Egypt: Al Sisi’s Solo Rule: Can it Last?
The strongman drives Egypt like a racecar, but in the wrong direction.
May 21, 2016
After two years of Al Sisi’s exclusive rule of Egypt, I often pose this question to his fans: Are you still optimistic?
Although the vast majority of the president’s supporters are, in varying degrees, less optimistic than they were, most tend to attribute the deficiencies of the president’s rule to a number of factors that they see as beyond his control.
Nevertheless, having taken it upon himself to run the political show single-handedly for the past two years, Al Sisi should bear the entire responsibility of Egypt’s progress, or lack thereof.
Egypt’s ruling mechanism can be portrayed as a vehicle that is trying to move forward in extremely congested traffic conditions.
How (not) to drive Egypt
Mubarak was not the world’s most gifted driver, but he was in full control of the vehicle. It was not veering erratically. He knew where he was heading and how to control the 90 million passengers aboard the vehicle!
Egypt’s former president was aware that he wasn’t a talented race driver, so he managed to create his own well-defined road lane that was respected by his peers, who never thought to challenge him. Mubarak’s “better late than never” style of driving allowed him to rule Egypt for three decades.
On the other hand, Al Sisi, who first landed in the racecourse two years ago, certainly lacks the ability to maneuver. As if he were in a Formula One race, he aspires to be the Schumacher of this world!
Egypt’s current president wants to prove to the world not only that he is capable of racing. He also believes he actually deserves to win. “I rule you blindly; follow me” is Al Sisi’s ruling philosophy!
His belief that he knows best has led him to lend a deaf ear to the entire population – marginalizing his opponents and criminalizing Islamists.
Meanwhile, his endorsement as the strongman of Egypt has empowered him to work on getting rid of all “vehicles” on the road so that he can be the sole driver around.
Not all top-down rulers are this incompetent
Egypt has been ruled by a top-down approach for decades. However, past rulers were more sensible. They passed their critical decisions down to the masses in a manner whereby they could be digested easily.
In contrast, Al Sisi is continuously surprising Egyptians with his “drop & go” policy. Citizens are abandoned to their fate and have to live with his shocking political actions.
Today, as a result of the president’s policy of polarizing the Egyptian population, any citizen who isn’t convinced of Al Sisi’s policies finds himself accused of being one of the “Evil People.” They are said to be collaborating with “external forces” that are conspiring against the country.
Al Sisi’s style of rule has prevented him from reaching out to the Egyptian population to establish genuine political pillars. These could have backed him up in better defining and justifying his policies.
On the contrary, the president has managed to neuter Egyptian politics by marginalizing the parliament, appointing executives that follow him blindly as well as integrating Egyptian state institutions into the ruling regime.
Al Sisi believes that his overwhelming personal popularity qualifies him to be the screenwriter, the director and all the key actors of Egypt’s political movie!
Having managed to drive the Egyptian vehicle for the past two years by obtaining the needed financial fuel from Arab Gulf countries and maintaining a tight grip on the steering wheel, Al Sisi is challenging himself further.
He believes that, by continuing to apply the same exclusive policy, he can win the race. To be competitive in this kind of race, a champion doesn’t only need to be a courageous race car driver. He must also have a superior race car, a qualified supporting team and solid racing experience.
Lacking these qualities and advantages, Al Sisi often encounters nails on the road – yet he is convinced that he will reach his goal simply by pressing down on the gas peddle.
Roar of the crowd
Yet, he has been consuming a great amount of fuel by driving around without a specific goal. The noise being made by the president’s supporters is meant to deceive the entire Egyptian population into believing that the country is on the right track.
The fact is that Egypt won’t progress unless the president unites all Egyptians, capitalizes on Egypt’s true resources and uses them efficiently. Sisi needs to understand that totalitarian leadership is a “mission impossible” in the present era.
Politics has become the domain of Egyptian society as a whole.