Egypt is back to square one. After the much highlighted Arab Spring–the protests, the damage to property and the loss of precious lives to rid Egypt of a dictator–the country is once again returning to its old ways. The interim president of Egypt has promoted Abdel Fetah el-Sissi from general to field marshal. It is expected that he will be a presidential candidate in the coming elections.
For the majority of its history after independence, Egypt has been ruled by military-backed dictators Gamal Abdul Nasser, Anwar-ul-Sadaat and Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak was the last dictator ousted by mass protests after a 30-year stint in office. For the first time in Egypt’s history, presidential elections were held. Mohammad Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist party, was elected president. As the days passed, the people who had fought hard to oust Mubarak realized that Morsi was as autocratic, if not more so, as his predecessor. An anti-Morsi movement began, and after much bloodshed, torture and mass imprisonments, he was ousted from the power corridors with the active backing of the Egyptian military.There still was hope left that Egypt would continue on the course of a democratic dispensation but today, any remnants of such a fleeting wish evaporated, when el-Sissi was made a field marshal.
El-Sissi came into national and international highlight Nov. 19 last year, when he appeared on Egyptian television, announcing the ouster of the Morsi’s government. Back then, he was hailed as a messiah by the people of Egypt. Nobody at the time expected that the messiah would be a ruthless chief of military and a presidential candidate in the coming elections. With him running for the office of the president of Egypt, the once messiah is, even before the elections, being referred to by political analysts as an oppressive dictator in the line of those before him, someone that the people of Egypt have endured over the years.This assumption is further reinforced by the fact that el-Sissi served as the head of military intelligence under Mubarak. This, perhaps, is the main reason he is being supported by the group of corrupt politicians, clerics and business magnates close to Mubarak. Therefore, according to the majority of political commentators, Egypt, once again, is back to square one.
El-Sissi headed the military intelligence under Mubarak. Later, he was the youngest member of the military council that ruled Egypt for 18 months after Mubarak’s ouster. It is ironic that Morsi chose him as the military chief of staff over senior and far more professional generals, because he wanted someone relatively young to lead Egyptian military–the largest military in the Arab world.
Morsi wanted a young general in order to nullify any influence of the pro-Mubarak old guard on his administration and the future of Egypt. In the short time that el-Sissi has been in public, he has proved himself to be a tyrannical administrator. Generally known as a man of few words, he has used deadly force against anti-government protesters in the recent past. It must also be kept in mind that he was the main part of the coterie that made a law declaring protesting without permission a crime, with the maximum penalty of life imprisonment. So, it goes without saying that after a brief honeymoon period of three years with a fledgling democracy, it is back to square one in Egypt.
Editorial By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada