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The President and the Contractor

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Two names dominate the current political landscape in Egypt: Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the President, and Muhammad Ali, the Contractor. The former runs the Egyptian state with an iron fist and dominates all power centres through the use of security agencies. He recently amended the constitution in order to guarantee that he will be in full control until 2030. The latter is a young man who appeared suddenly on the political stage after fleeing to Spain and divulging from there what he claims to know about the corruption of the regime in whose bosom he grew up and flourished. In doing so, he used a series of videos and assumed the role of a national hero who fills the knowledge void from which Egyptian politics is suffering.

The president decided to respond in person to the charges made by the contractor, exposing a situation so absurd that it is turning into some sort of an enigma itself. How can we understand what’s going on?

Some people believe this to be a natural outcome of the role played by the military in Egyptian politics and the insistence of the institution on maintaining control over the government since it seized power in 1952. It intervened to abort the January 2011 revolution, which was a revolution against “military rule” and not against the person or regime of Mubarak specifically.

Such a vision, however, sees the rule of the military as an extension of what it has done since 1952. This is inaccurate. What goes on in Egypt today has nothing to do with the national project of the “July 2013 revolution” or its regime. Some may argue that Sisi came to power in exactly the same way that Gamal Abdel Nasser did, through a military coup that toppled a civilian government, and that he is laying the foundations for a new renaissance similar to Nasser’s. This is also inaccurate. Sisi did not come to power via a secret organisation whose members agreed on a national project as was done by Nasser, or as Sadat did and then Mubarak after him through a “mechanism of bequeathing power by choice”. In fact, Sisi took power by virtue of a completely different set of circumstances which reflect the ambitions of a man who was in a position that enabled him to exploit the contradictions of the January revolution, on the one hand, and the mistakes of the Muslim Brotherhood on the other. Ironically, it was the late President Mohamed Morsi himself who provided Sisi with that opportunity, not because he appointed him as Minister of Defence, but because when he did so he broke the seniority rules that are much venerated within the military establishment, thus creating a serious gap that........

© Middle East Monitor