Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi is emerging as a likely front runner in the Egyptian
presidential elections planned for next year, though he has not announced
whether he will be running for the office.
Since the coup against the
Muslim Brotherhood on July 3 which brought him to power, Sisi has enjoyed
positive media coverage and public support, and according to a report in the
Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm this month, a campaign is underway to gather 30
million signatures endorsing him for president.
Eric Trager, an expert on
Egypt and a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The
that Sisi’s plans are as yet unknown, “but one thing that might
propel him to run is the fact that every new Egyptian president since Anwar
Sadat has ultimately fired the defense minister as a way of removing a potential
Hence, Trager said, Sisi may believe that “based on
history, if he doesn’t become president, he may be out of a job before
Samuel Tadros, a research fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, stated to the Post that at this point it is just media hype, though Sisi is currently the most popular figure in the country.
"Hardly anyone remembers the name of the interim President and none of the politicians or political parties have much of a following, so it is no surprise that people are urging Sisi to run," he said.
Tadros believes that while it may seem attractive to continue running things from behind the scenes, he is 59 now, and "risks becoming another Tantawi, an old man disconnected from the lower ranks."
On the other hand, "running for President comes with its own risks," he said pointing out that Sisi would be "held accountable for the certain policy failures that will emerge."
Professor Abdallah Schleifer, a Cairo-based columnist for the Al-Arabiya news website, told the Post that if a poll were held, at least in greater Cairo, which makes up more than half of Egypt, Sisi would win hands down.
He says that people compare him to former president Gamal Abdel Nasser. "In neither the Arab world nor Israel - nor in an America that favored George Washington and Dwight D. Eisenhower - wearing a uniform is not a disability."
"Unless one is a spokesmen for the Muslim Brotherhood or a member of the foreign press that seems to a large degree to accept the idea that whoever wins a democratic election is a democrat and whoever stages a coup d'etat is automatically a bad guy, then one could say, Oh! if only the German General Staff had so moved in 1933 as al-Sisi did in 2013," he said.
In an interview with The Washington Post
in August, Sisi was asked
if he would run for president and he avoided a direct answer, instead saying, “I
am not a hero. I’m just a person who loves his people and country and felt hurt
that the Egyptians were treated in such a way.” Asked again by the paper, he
said, “You just can’t believe that there are people who don’t aspire for
According to a report on Al-Arabiya
, a top Egyptian fast food
chain has introduced a “Sisi sandwich.”
This comes after a cookie company
baked “Sisi cookies” during the Eid holiday. The Egyptian media have given him
glowing coverage, and have played songs supporting the military.
bolstering Sisi, former Egyptian prime minister Ahmed Shafiq has said he would
back the army chief if he decided to run for president.
Shafiq, a former
air force commander who came second in last year’s presidential election, said
he would not run if Sisi stood in the next election.
This comment may
help explain why there are no declared candidates just months before the
election, as other politicians could be waiting to see whether Sisi is going to
run before announcing their own intentions.
In separate comments, former
Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who also ran in last year’s election, said Sisi
would win by a landslide. Egyptians had become “angry and afraid of anarchy and
terrorism” and wanted a decisive leader, he said.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian
daily Al-Youm al-Sabaa
reported that an Israeli security delegation had arrived
in Cairo on Tuesday in order to discuss security developments in the region. The
delegation stayed in the country for several hours, meeting with a number of
officials and focusing on the situation in the Sinai, it said.
addition, Egyptian police arrested Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad
on Tuesday, three security officials said, the latest high-profile detention in
the army-backed authorities’ crackdown on the Islamist movement.
was detained with two other Brotherhood officials in an apartment in Cairo. He
served as chief of staff to deputy Brotherhood leader Khairat El-Shater and is
the son of Essam El-Haddad, an aide to deposed Islamist president Mohamed
Haddad, the Brotherhood’s main point of contact with international
media before the crackdown, is charged with inciting the killing of
Many of the Brotherhood’s top leaders have been detained on
similar charges since the military coup, which triggered the worst spasm of
violence in Egypt’s modern history.
Morsi, who is being held at an
undisclosed location, has himself been charged with inciting killing and
violence. Besides Morsi, the Brotherhood’s three top leaders are also in jail,
together with the head of its political party.Reuters contributed to