Viewpoint: Egypt’s New Leader Is Unfit to Rule

Al-Sisi's recent decisionmaking suggests a character that is deeply flawed, rash and dangerous

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Hassan Ammar / AP

An opponent of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi holds up a poster depicting the Egyptian armed-forces chief General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi during a rally in Cairo on July 26, 2013

Yesterday, Egypt’s ruling authorities made two symbolic yet important decisions. The first is that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, detained since the February 2011 coup that toppled him from power, is to be freed. The second is that the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, is heading in the other direction. He’s going to jail, where he’ll join another former President, Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first elected Commander in Chief who was deposed last month by Defense Minister Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the man who now calls the shots in Cairo.

Perhaps al-Sisi believes he is following Machiavelli’s advice to rulers, that people must either be caressed or crushed. However, showing leniency to Mubarak and baring his teeth at the Brotherhood, along with other decisions al-Sisi has taken over the past 40 days, give us an insight into the nature of the man and suggest a character deeply flawed, rash and dangerous.

(MORE: Egypt’s Military Defends Public Image Abroad After Fighting Protests at Home)

We don’t have many biographical details about al-Sisi. The 58-year-old general was born and raised in Cairo. He received his commission in 1977, so he fought in none of Egypt’s wars. He trained in the U.K. in 1992, served as military attaché in Saudi Arabia and in 2006 attended the U.S. Army War College. The fact that he regularly consults with Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, the 89-year-old Egyptian journalist who was a close confidante of Gamal Abdel Nasser, perhaps the greatest Arab nationalist hero, suggests al-Sisi is ambitious. A profile in the Daily Beast reveals little about al-Sisi that couldn’t be said of much of Egypt’s, or indeed all of the world’s, male population — he’s religious, conservative, keeps his own counsel and believes he is born to lead rather than follow. A professor who taught al-Sisi at the Army War College recalls that among all the Arab officers still reeling from the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Egyptian officer exhibited more self-control than the rest.

Self-control is hardly the first attribute that comes to mind to describe a man who during his brief tenure as de facto ruler of Egypt has already killed hundreds in the streets. That is, it is not the raw data of biography that shows who someone is — rather, it is the choices one makes and the actions taken that draw the lineaments of character. Here, al-Sisi is wanting.

If the White House still refuses to call al-Sisi’s July 3 coup by its proper name and much of Egypt rationalizes it as an intervention to save democracy backed by a large part of the population, the reality is that the army took sides with one half of the country against the other. The 2012 election that put Morsi in the presidential palace showed that the Muslim Brotherhood had broad support. How many people may have changed their mind about Morsi over the course of a year when he proved incapable of governing or how many people the anti-Morsi forces put into the streets to demand his exit is immaterial. Al-Sisi failed to comprehend the obvious consequences of reversing the outcome of the country’s first free vote — he was taking on not only the Muslim Brotherhood but also running roughshod over the political will of millions of Egyptians. The first move Egypt’s new ruler made was to create the conditions for civil war.

Al-Sisi’s campaign against the Brotherhood, including the arrest of Badie, shows that he is keen to decapitate them. Whether or not he’s capable of putting down a political movement born in 1928 and steeled by more than 80 years of violent repression remains to be seen. He certainly can’t crush all the many millions of Egyptians who support them.

As for Mubarak, yes, he deserves better than prison. He kept Egypt stable and at peace for 30 years and the young tech-savvy revolutionaries who helped topple him in 2011 owe their advancement and privilege to him. However, to release him now sets the revolutionaries against al-Sisi, the man they thought had come to restore the revolution that Morsi derailed. In freeing Mubarak, al-Sisi may well have further divided Egypt — the army and the Brotherhood and the revolutionaries against each other.

The Middle East is not like Norway or Denmark, as one Middle East leader famously said, referring to the region’s ruthless and often bloody political ethos. However, the Middle East is also not the lowest circle of hell. Rulers may at times find violence a useful tactic to achieve certain ends, but it is not a strategy, not the endgame, unless they wish to govern only rubble and flames. That’s where al-Sisi is leading Egypt.

MORE: Viewpoint: Egypt No Longer Matters

67 comments
LuSanChin
LuSanChin

This is so unprofessional article that it could be taken as written by Muslim Brotherhood itself! No need to go in to detail again, that was done ever so nicely by commentators below.

JohnBreland
JohnBreland

Continued from previous comment....   As for Mubarak, I would urge you to conduct some research before putting pen to paper. You would find that Mubarak faces multiple charges. He was being detained based on certain charges of corruption for which the prosecution has not yet made a sufficient case. The law, Mr. Smith--the LAW--required Mubarak's release at the end of two years. He still faces potential prosecution on other charges.

Mohammad Morsi is a dangerous man, leading a dangerous movement. The Muslim Brotherhood expressly devotes itself to the goal of a totalitarian, Islamic caliphate. It has spawned numerous terrorist organizations, not the least of which is Al Qaeda. Mubarak wisely kept the Brotherhood under lock and key. Egypt's current leaders would be prudent to return it there again. The Muslim Brotherhood is a pestilence that needs to be at least contained or, preferably, rooted out to the last adherent.

If the German military had interceded in 1933 to depose Adolph Hitler, you probably would have written similar rubbish bemoaning wounds to Nazi sensibilities. And the world, hopefully, would have ignored you and gone on to avoid the horrors of World War II.

JohnBreland
JohnBreland

Tsk, tsk, Mr. Smith. Did the Muslim Brotherhood supply you with talking points? Let's get the facts straight. Mohammad Morsi was elected in the wake of a revolution launched by a popular revolt against the authoritarian Mubarak administration. Within a year of taking office, Morsi effectively suspended the courts, unilaterally pushed through a revised constitution based largely on Islamic, anti-democratic law, and assumed for himself dictatorial powers. The "street revolt" that you disparage was the largest gathering of human beings ever known to be assembled in the history of the world--30 million strong--and this in a country of only 80 million. The assembly was a cross section of Egypt, Christian and Muslim, rich and poor, with the exception, of course, of the Islamo-extremists who saw Mohammad Morsi as their ticket to totalitarian Islamic rule. When the Morsi faction began to instigate violence in the streets (supporters of the revolution were being dragged into Mosques for torture and interrogation), the military stepped in with an ultimatum. Defiant, the Morsi regime refused to budge. The army removed him with a pledge to preserve civilian rule with a restoration of constitutional governance in due course.

Continued in next comment...

pyramidpreventativemedicine
pyramidpreventativemedicine

I am going to be polite about this and ask you where your thinking is at certainly not clear?  First , Mubarak release from prison has nothing to do with the current status in Egypt right now and shouldn't even have been used in this context. Mubarak served his term two years and need not stay any longer. Your remarks are out of context with the General showing leniency when the General had nothing to do with his prison term being fulfilled.   Second, you mention Mohammed Badie going to jail where the deposed President Morsi is as a result of  General el-Sisi's July 3rd movement . If you are smart enough you would know that the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist group who want to control and run the country through Mr. Morsi leaving millions of Egyptians without adequate means of daily needs. I think you are a little smarter than I am giving you credit for. So why not just say " I support the Muslim Brotherhood" "I support Terrorism" and "I denounce General el-Sisi" . These statements are what you are thinking and saying while counter playing your strategies to make General el-Sisi look like the evil "deeply flawed dangerous and rash".  This is a rant of terrorism that is what you are. 

General el-Sisi answered the call of thirty million Egyptians who were desperate due to the current damage politically and economically that Mr. Morsi placed upon them while lining his pocket and the Mulsim Brotherhood leaders with foreign aid.  That is obvious when you see where those leaders lived in expensive villas with nice cars and the civilians barely with enough food to eat . I call that a SIN to all  HUMANITY and you are guilty too.

The videos of Muslim Brotherhood camps with opposition deaths and beating of children this is what you stand for just the stand for a terrorist group.  Many bodies were hidden in bags. A horrific sin against humanity you support.

The General leads in light and if you looked at the poll of Egyptians you would see 67% agreed with the ousting and clearing the streets. You are ignoring the tortured and murdered police  that the Muslim Brotherhood performed . Yes death is ugly but what is uglier is you a editor of the Weekly Standard and a BIGOT!!  You are unfit to be a editor.

In Gods name General el Sisi and his cabinet will rid Egypt of you and this terrorism with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Openminded1
Openminded1

Well send Obama over after his term in the oval office, I am sure he will do better there then here, with him be a Muslim and all.

HannoPhoenicia
HannoPhoenicia

Time Magazine supports Middle East terrorists as this editorial rant shows, and is unfit to publish the news. Of course, Time has been unfit to do that for generations now. If reporters are profoundly ignorant about an area of the world, they have no business reporting on it.

tonexchange
tonexchange

I believe the role military in a democratic country is to protect a democratically elected government until the next democratic process. Military should have restored order by suppressing excessive street revolt to destabilize running of government by opposition during Morsi presidency. Not supporting the street revolt and topple a democratically elected government.

lovely
lovely

The respectful editor is commenting on the Egyptian judiciary system!!! The release of Mubarak and the questioning of Morsi or Badie is all by the Egyptian law. We cannot comment on the judiciary system at the US. In other point Sisi is not calling shots in Cairo. The Egyptian authorities are fighting terrorism like the US or you might forgotten. The editor continues his fallacy about Sisi saying that he shown not self control during his 40 days ruling the country and killed hundreds in the streets. Sisi is not ruling Egypt. Egypt has civilian interim administration. The Egyptians did not split into two halves around Morsi. The absolute majority is against the dictatorship of the MB and went into the streets to declare it and thank goodness the army listened to the people and put things straight to avoid catastrophic situation. What happened in Egypt is not a coup by any means and the military don’t and won’t rule.
Morsi failed miserably during the first year and consequently he lost the very minor majority he has (he won by 51%) and a great deal of who has voted to him did that in order not to vote for his rival.
Sir, you are insulting the Egyptian judiciary system when you say that Sisi released Mubarak and you should apologize for that.
Egypt will win its war against terrorism against the wish of those who conspires this country and we will never get into civil war.

StephenReal
StephenReal

The counter revolution of the Egyptian deep state is on. Right down to the traditional burning of the Coptic churches to play the Western media.The Mubarack machine with it's stunning propaganda apparatus is in full swing covering up the crimes of General Al-Sisi and his murderous thugs bringing their massacre to the streets of Cairo. These guys are creeps.


TasheryOtway-Smithers
TasheryOtway-Smithers

General Abd El Fatah Al Sissi is an enlightened and intelligent man who only has the good of the Egyptian people at heart.He is supported by the vast majority of Egyptians who turned out in millions to ask him to oust the Muslim Brotherhood and the economic collapse and repression they were responsible for.They persecuted Christians, tortured people who differed with their ideology and Egypt needed saving.We have no buisness interfering in the internal affairs of the Egyptian government.

helsayes
helsayes

The Brotherhood is made up of terrorists and terrorist supporters, plain and simple, and their agenda calls for nothing less than complete dominance of Islam and Sharia law. The Egyptian people decided to fight those fascist for their freedom and democracy. In wars for freedom killings do happen.

IhsanSoayed
IhsanSoayed

@LuSanChin You are right. These people support MB terrorists. They're afraid of the birth of a new Gamal Abdel Nasser

IhsanSoayed
IhsanSoayed

@pyramidpreventativemedicine as an Egyptian I'd like to thank you about your reasonable comment. I lost respect and trust in such countries supporting these terrorists, paying them milliards from their peoples taxis to spread destruction , terror and treason all over the Arab countries.

We faithful and loyal Egyptians are living this tragedy long ago, General El Sisi is doing his best to rescue Egypt from this nightmare. I'd like to ask such reporters to take away their dirty hands from Egypt's internal affairs.

lovely
lovely

@pyramidpreventativemedicine

Such newspaper and such editor are doing this for living. They got paid to put this under their names. They know nothing about the situation in Egypt. They just print what they are told to print. This in non professional at all.

LuSanChin
LuSanChin

@tonexchange  You somewhat forgot that Morsi suspended democratic rights of people, When 30 million people take out to the streets and demand Morsi to take a hike, someone has to listen!  After all Hitler was also democratically elected!

HannoPhoenicia
HannoPhoenicia

@tonexchange  Moronic. Under Morsi, there no longer was a democratic process, only a new dictatorship. Sounds like you're in favor of a dictatorship by your rant.

HannoPhoenicia
HannoPhoenicia

@lovely Thank you, it's nice to see someone here who understands what's going on in Egypt. The uninformed staff in Time certainly don't.

MustafaGulam
MustafaGulam

@lovely you really need to do your research. That entire Judicial system is controlled by sisi and his crimminal thugs. These pieces of garbage are ruining egypt and along with their Israeli and inbred Arab gulf thugs are destroying the entire middle east. 

adham.khairy
adham.khairy

@lovely couldn't have said it better. I'm not sure how did the writer arrive at the conclusion that it is sisi who let Mubarak out when the trial has been going on for more than a year now! Actually it is Morsi's fault when he brought his MB general prosecutor who promised to bring new evidence and failed to do so resulting in letting Mubarak out now! And I don't know how he's saying that sisi took sides? Whose side? Should've he left Egypt to go to ruins because of these terrorists rule? How come he never moved until millions went to the streets? If MB are half of Egypt then you are grossly misinformed bro!

Openminded1
Openminded1

@TasheryOtway-Smithers What did he do for you ? invite you to dinner at his palace and speak softly and whisper in your ear that he is a good man, or maybe he went riding with your snobby ass and gave you a horse as a gift. Your PC crap was your daddys job not yours you are not part of the Diplomatic corp.

mopteron
mopteron

@TasheryOtway-Smithers And in a democracy you wait for the end of his term and vote him out. What's happening in Egypt is called kleptocracy.

MustafaGulam
MustafaGulam

@TasheryOtway-Smithers this criminal thug sisi is the next Bin Laden and we should make sure our predator drones or Navy SEALS hunt him down one day. And Egypts affairs do concern the USA and the entire world...I'm sorry but when you're in that part of the world America cares what you do because it has massive implications globally. 

FrankNolo
FrankNolo

'enlightened' certainly doesnt reconcile with the dark vision of Egypt that he is currently producing.  It is so clear that the burning of Christian churches is being committed by Sissi followers as false flag attacks to frame MB.  When Morsi was president, there may have been some backlash against the Coptics because for years they traditionally supported Mubarak, but other than that there was no where near the violence that you see now.  All of a sudden, MB gets deposed, all their leaders get arrested on false charges, their television stations shut down, their unarmed protesting citizens being shot dead in the streets, and poof, you have audacity to claim that Sissi is protected the same churches that MB is burning down, but where is Sissi?  Where are all the Egyptian military protecting Coptic Christian sites??  There are none, because it is Sissi himself setting all the churches on fire.

StephenReal
StephenReal

@TasheryOtway-Smithers Let me put your sweet heart attitude in front of the general's rifle squads murdering waves of humans on the streets of Cairo. Al-Sisi is a criminal thug.


FrankNolo
FrankNolo

and what about Mubarak.  So he is not a terrorist yet miraculously he is free, yet Morsi is a terrorist for no other reason than being elected by the Egyptian people.

Egyptian government system of lies and corruption is the problem, and this is not a system that will change for anyone unless you stop acting like barbarians.  You label people terrorists like it is some easy word, something simple.  Like 'oh my god el barabai resigned so he is a terrorist'

in egypt, all you have to do to be called a terrorist is disagree with the military, poof, you are a terrorist

If i write a article in US critical of Egyptian military, i am terrorist.  If EU critisizes Egyptian military, they are terrorist.  For egypt, the term terrorist is used so liberally, it has no more meaning to the rest of the world, because the rest of the world looks to actions, not words, to define a terrorist.  Any military general that slaughers 1000 innocent people, destroys the reputation of the country, kills the economy, are terrorists

See how much tourism you get after your Sissi.  Pyramids are nice, but no one wants to risk their lives to see it.  You underestimate the will of the globe to dominate your military lunatics.  Sissi is going down like sadat, plain and simple, and he chose that path for himself, no one else

FrankNolo
FrankNolo

So why did your country elect him fool??? are you telling me that Egypt elected a terrorist organization into power??  Then obviously the entire Egypt needs to be burned to the ground by Israel so that finally peace can be restored to the middle east

JulianDuschene
JulianDuschene

@LuSanChin @tonexchange Please stop repeating that stupid number of 30 millions, there's no way 30 millions got out in the streets to protest against Morsi, there's no way they all were against him, there's no way to count their heads, on the other hand, presidential, parliamentary elections and constitutional referendum proved, with international recognition, that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood has the support of the people. And these are legalized results.

JulianDuschene
JulianDuschene

@HannoPhoenicia @tonexchange Fallacious! Morsi's governement never closed an opposition TV station, even though they kept spreading lies and destructive propaganda against him, Morsi never declared the state of war, not even opposition protesters attacked the presidential palace or the muslim brotherhood headquarters, Morsi never sent troops to the streets to kill and snipe peaceful protesters... On the other hand, again, the military coup authorities did all of the above from the minute they kidnapped the president Morsi.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@HannoPhoenicia @lovely The US will take over Egypt soon do not worry people you will be saved Obama for president of Egypt, Do not forget brother L. Farahkan

lovely
lovely

@MustafaGulam @lovely No sir, the judicial system in Egypt is independent and impartial. It is one of the deep-rooted systems in the world. We trust it for our lives. Please do not put Israel in one side with the genuine Arab leaders that bring us back to the good old days of our ancestors. It is clear that General Sisi is giving you such a hard time!!!!

adham.khairy
adham.khairy

@FrankNolo It is amazing how many false claims you are making here. MB protesters were not by any means peaceful, MB leaders calls for bloodshed all over Egypt are well documented. It is true the authorities were not able to cope with the amount of criminal acts by the MB after removal of their puppet from presidency, but non the less, it is a documented fact that all of these attacks are coordinated by the MB and their supporters.

If you have any piece of evidence proofing that it is the military killing and burning then by all means, please share with us! Otherwise, you will only need to open the TV to see the atrocities committed by these terrorists.

MahmoudZayed
MahmoudZayed

@FrankNolo I think you are  obviously not well informed about what has happened in Egypt.Your support of the MB is beyond my comprehension but your last statement about isreal made me understand. Your are obviously a supporter of isreal who wants no good for Egypt. As for your  wishes that Isreal burns my country to the ground ,i will ask god for forgiving you as you are obviously a moron

IhsanSoayed
IhsanSoayed

@JulianDuschene @LuSanChin @tonexchange

YES , THE NUMBER IS CORRECT. 

We ُEgyptians are the sons and daughters of the great Pharaohs , we are stubborn people who, if designed a thing , then it should be done. We went out , more than this number, according to statistics of satellites, we came out all in all the fields of Egypt in all the provinces to topple the regime of Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, who only want the destruction of the country, in order to America remains mistress of the world and for the interests of the financiers of terrorism in the Arab world.

Raise your hands dirty for beloved Egypt and let us decide our own future in peace.

Long live Egypt and long live our rescuer General El Sisi

Openminded1
Openminded1

@HannoPhoenicia @Openminded1 @lovely Not lonely at all hanno and i did make sense, you are just to stupid to get it. It went over your Hanno head. what is a Hanno anyway is that your way of saying hell no?

IhsanSoayed
IhsanSoayed

@MustafaGulam @lovely  

It is clear your friends are those MB terrorists. If you were living in Egypt, may be you might have a better view than what you were told

JulianDuschene
JulianDuschene

@HannoPhoenicia @MustafaGulam @lovely Oh now I see how your twisted criminal mind gets things, people just have to be put down like that!? You have got an insatiable lust for power and deep frustration about the loss in the democratic game, that you lost your humanity, and now you call for bloodshed because you lost in the game of democrcy! What a shame...

HannoPhoenicia
HannoPhoenicia

@MustafaGulam @lovely ; Mustafa is a Muslim Brotherhood member and someday will have to be put down as a terrorist to protect the innocent. Most Egyptians support this sort of need.

lovely
lovely

@MustafaGulam @lovely Of course we don't like to be so. We will not ISA. We will have constitution and parliament election and presidential elections soon enough and I know this will be quickly and peaceful. I assure you the military will have no role at all in the next government. I want you to wish us the best. Thank you

MustafaGulam
MustafaGulam

@lovely @MustafaGulam yes Iraq is much more democratic than it was under Saddam and his cronies. And Sisi and his military Baath wannabees should be reminded of Abu Ghraib....the fear will make them realize how we treat people who destroy democracy. 

lovely
lovely

@MustafaGulam @lovely Do you think you brought democracy to Iraq after you assasinated Saddam Hussein and all you did at Abo Gharib prison. Is that is the model you are trying to sell?

MustafaGulam
MustafaGulam

@lovely @MustafaGulam wrong. in 1956 the UK and Israel took over the Suez and the US told them to give it back. They were so scared they listened. Look it up if you don't believe me. Don't think you can win when America joins the fight, we will take over your canal if we want and we won't give it back until you bring back democracy and free and fair elections. We are the world's most powerful nation and have the most powerful military in the history of mankind and the Suez canal is under Egyptian control because we permit it to be, not because YOU want it to be. 

Sisi is the new Bin Laden plain and simple and if you don't like that analogy a better one might be that he is the next Saddam Hussein a military leader drunk with power....and we all know what happened to Saddam don't we? Several of my American friends are already comparing your new dictator to Hitler and Saddam Hussein. 

lovely
lovely

@MustafaGulam @lovely You are completely messed up. He is fighting the extremist Jihadies and Al-Qaeda in Egypt so how he becomes like Bin Laden while he is fighting his organization? You don't know history very well and I will remind you that in 1956 all of the US, UK, and Israel tried to take over Suez Canal and they have failed. Egypt is capable of defending itself very well. Don't worry my friend.

MustafaGulam
MustafaGulam

@lovely @MustafaGulam haha pathetic, Sisi is the next Bin Laden and it's sad you don't see it. I have many Egyptian friends and they laugh at the Egyptian judicial system...people around the world are laughing at your country and I knew some americans just want to take the suez canal out of your hands. 

FrankNolo
FrankNolo

excuse me, unarmed protestor being killed by Sissi

FrankNolo
FrankNolo

Look, for an Egyptian to be screaming 'liar liar pants on fire' is the joke of the century.  Lying was invented in Egypt 4000bc.  The origin of all liars on earth is an Egyptian male that lived approximately 4000BC, and we check the DNA to confirm.  MB and Sissi lie.  I dont listen to anything an Egyptian says, i look on the TV and can see with my eyes an unarmed protestor shot for no reason.  My eyes dont lie to me.  MB call for bloodshed because Sissi is threatening bloodshed.  It is ok when SIssi threatens bloodshed, but if MB defend with similar threats, they are arrested.  Sissi uses military weapons on unarmed protestors, and when MB sneaks in a gun or two to defend, all of a sudden this is a terrorist group armed insurrection and all the typical Egyptian media lies.  We (outside of Egypt) see the truth.  Everyone inside of Egypt is living lies.  So the proof you speak of is already online,

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/16/egypt-protester-shot_n_3769466.html

I do not see any gun in this protestors hands.  I do not see him hiding a nuclear weapon in right pocket, and ayman al zawahiri in the other pocket.  It is just unarmed protestor being killed by Morsi.  Stick that one in your Egyptian Hooka pipe a smoke it.

cryptomedia-dot-com

MustafaGulam
MustafaGulam

@adham.khairy @FrankNolo dude are you in Egypt? Just turn on the TV in the USA and everyone sees those military thugs killing innocent civilians. Even Baradei left your government and fleed the country because he did not agree with the kiling of civilians. The MB has done nothing but renounce violence.