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Sisi come, Sisi go!

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Ziad Akl

Ziad Akl

If somehow we managed to research the words used most frequently by Egyptians in the past three months, I’m sure “Al-Sisi” would come high up on that list. You can easily recognise the kind of political atmosphere you’re caught in the middle of simply by noticing the reactions of people to the  General’s name.

Al-Sisi is indeed the most charismatic figure in Egyptian politics at the moment. He is exceptionally charismatic because there are those who have genuine appreciation and honest admiration of the man, and at the same time he has behind him a relentless media instrument that can’t help being anything but a source of blind, silly and closed-minded propaganda.

Whether Al-Sisi actually asks for such propaganda or doesn’t is another point. I personally believe that this is the only way Egyptian media knows how to deal with charisma; blind propaganda.

The way Al-Sisi was treated since early July is just a perfect explanation of how politics and authority in Egypt is always summed up in an individual. In fact, I would argue that if we closely examine the different factors that have been influential in shaping the outcome of Egypt’s revolution since January 2011, we’d find the most formative to be the post-revolutionary elite.

The factors that commonly influence the outcomes of revolution include things like class structure and its reflection on revolutionary mobilisation. But in both of Egypt’s uprisings in 2011 and 2013 there was no class-based mobilisation; although some would argue that there was an evident upper-middle class presence in June 2013 specifically, it was still quite far from being called class presence. Therefore, it is not social classes that had the most effect on the outcome of revolution in Egypt, probably because class consciousness in Egypt is a lot less than sufficient for social change.

Other factors like the intervention of international actors, the structure of state institutions and ethnic and religious conflicts have not been of equal influence. The place we have reached today has been the effect of post-revolutionary elite (both the Islamist and the security elites) and the control of the state’s coercive apparatus (the police and the army).

To cut a long story short and to keep things simple, what I want to say is that the new phase Egypt’s about to enter is one that will not necessarily be led by Al-Sisi as an individual, but will definitely be engineered by Al-Sisi and his fellow security elite and nurtured by the business elite that has been clearly supportive of the road-map so far.

Mind you, I’m not trying to hint that a new police state is on the rise, or that a military state a la the sixties is about to emerge. What is really on the rise and being formed at the moment is a new alliance between security institutions, the bureaucracy, business elite and post-revolutionary political elite. I do not believe we are witnessing the making of a police state, but rather a very modern, pseudo-representative and security-manipulated democracy.

In a nutshell, whether Al-Sisi ends up being president, or another military or intelligence figure like Murad Mowafi or Hosam Khairallah or whoever else the numerous security institutions of Egypt decide to nominate and end up filling the office, real power will remain in the hands of the deep state institutions – mainly security institutions and the bureaucratic elite.

The fundamental structural problem so inherent within the system in Egypt is far from over. As long as we believe that individuals hold the answer instead of institutions and principles; then we will simply wait for one charisma after the other, a Sisi comes, a Sisi goes; it’s all the same.

What we need to ask is not who will be president, but rather, how will he be president and by who’s support.

About the author

Ziad A. Akl

Ziad A. Akl

Ziad A. Akl is a political analyst and sociologist. He is a senior researcher at the Egyptian Studies Unit in Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

  • Reda Sobky

    Why can’t it be seen as always a dynamic balance in a multipolar system each with its own institutions? Judiciary, business, army, bureaucracy, religious establishment, worker’s and now street organization. None of them posses a plurality but need to make allies with other forces. For a moment the deposed became the leaders of a broad alliance and fritted away their political space until they became everybody’s enemy indeed they threatened the very arena structure and thus betrayed the rules and everybody else by trying to hog power. The multipolarity creates a changing alliance picture and makes for strange bedfellows. I think it is healthy in that it places limits on each force, if it goes too far out it runs the risk of finding itself alienated from other social forces as the deposed have demonstrated clearly. The mood is that of impatience, lead, follow or get out of the way as we have to catch up and there is no time to waste, look how much time was wasted on the deposed and the recovery from the deposed is still ongoing. This time it has to be right which means everybody has to be in on the action and included.

  • Sally Wilton

    I don’t know if it is Egyptians or the media but they seem to love to make hero’s of people. Egypt is desperate for that. I keep telling Egyptians that it’s a mistake but they want pharoahs. Angela Merkel is the best sort of modern politician in my view because like her or not, she sees her role as no more than a job. she is not glamorous, not heroic and not an icon. Just another worker and that is probably the best way for a present day leader to be.

  • sam enslow

    From Kahlil Gibran’s “The Garden of the Prophet”
    ..pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.
    Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harvest, and drinks a wine that flows not from its own wine-press.
    Pity the nation that aclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bontiful.
    Pity a nation that despises a passion in its dream, yet submits in its awakening.
    Pity the nation that raises not its voice save when it walks in a funeral, boast not except among its ruins, and will rebel not save when its neck is laid between the sword and the block.
    Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.
    Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpetings, and farewells him with hooting, only to welcome another with trumpeting again.
    Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years and whose strong men are still in the cradle.
    Pity the nation divided into fragments, eavh fragment deeming itself a nation.

  • Doom

    Egyptians gained very wide and deep orientation regarding politics in the past 2 or 3 years than they ever did. They learnt to analyze deeper than just move spoken promises about Western democracy type that in part of it can never give us any step forward, leave alone the impossible application in a nation with different background, ethics, heritage, religion, beliefs and goals.
    They are now capable of political moves on the ground. They would express AND change the situation at any price.
    So please go beyond your meager analysis of the situation to find deeper facts. One is that man is supported merely because he is doing what the mass people want. Another fact is people in Egypt can stop this support any time the guy lose the way, just like they did before.
    One of the other facts is that superficial people taking the lead, and unfortunately given one, in writing the above nonsense will go no where trying to think they know better or can even convince a whole nation to be loose, pathetic and incapable just to apply rigid rules that on papers lead to democracy yet in fact lead to a broken country waiting for orders to come from other countries that you well echo its demands here.

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