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El-Sisi and Egypt's bankrupt civil elite
In their support for military rule, Egypt's opportunistic civil political elite betray the very values they claim to defend
Khalil Al-Anani , Saturday 19 Oct 2013
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The actions of the civil political elite in Egypt have not ceased to amaze since the 3 July coup. Events over the past months have proven that their actions are not based on any moral or value-based system but more an expression of political opportunism and a desire to get rid of Islamists, even if the price is to create a military dictatorship.

This is obviously apparent in the exclusionary rhetoric of many key figures of this elite, that primarily focuses on excluding Islamists and isolating them from society and politics. They also eagerly support and promote Minister of Defence Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi as a presidential candidate — a paradox that history will ponder at length.

There are many flaws and ironies in the political rhetoric and actions of what is described as the liberal and secular elite, which contradicts the fundamentals of the civil state they claim to represent and defend. Their positions and statements prove they are moving Egypt towards a military, not civil, state. What is most disconcerting is the amount of one-upmanship and pressure they exert to justify their support and promotion of El-Sisi as a presidential candidate.

That they insist on El-Sisi’s nomination for president reflects their dismal failure in creating a political alternative that could fill the vacuum left behind after the exit of Islamists from power. Instead of diligently working to find such an alternative, especially after the political arena has been cleansed of any political opponent, they are behaving like a lazy student who did not do his homework and decided to rely on others to succeed.

Many key figures and leaders of the National Salvation Front (NSF) that was formed in the last quarter of last year and came together to overthrow Morsi are now competing with each other to demonstrate their support for the rule of the generals. For example, Mohamed Abul Ghar, the head of the “civil” Egyptian Socialist Democratic Party and a leading figure of the NSF, shamelessly declared his support for General El-Sisi and even tried to convince other NSF leaders to support El-Sisi as the most competent candidate to lead Egypt at this stage.

It is interesting that Abul Ghar blamed his friend Hamdeen Sabbahi when he mentioned the latter’s slim chances of winning the presidency, and advised him to support El-Sisi. Sabbahi did not disappoint, confirming his support for El-Sisi in a television interview.

As for Amr Moussa, a former presidential candidate himself, he does not hide his admiration for El-Sisi since the “general mood” in Egypt supports this. Moussa expects a landslide victory for El-Sisi in the coming presidential elections. In fact, not one day passes without Egyptian newspapers publishing news about support for El-Sisi among intellectual and cultural figures, whether out of desire, fear or coordination.

Meanwhile, there is also a long list of media people, writers and journalists who are on a public relations campaign to promote El-Sisi, as if they were playing a harmonious symphony led by a conductor from behind the scenes. Some have even suggested giving El-Sisi a “pledge of allegiance” as president to save the cost of campaigning and elections.

The level of how enamoured and flattering this group is to the military institution reflects Egypt’s deep crisis. Instead of the civil elite becoming a tool for intellectual and cultural enlightenment, they are racing to show their support for military rule. It seems they have not learnt anything from the wretched rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) that followed Mubarak’s ouster. Neither did they read the history of similar experiences, where the military reached power and the price was decades of authoritarianism, corruption and tyranny.

Judging by the eagerness of this elite, it is only logical that the generals do not take them seriously especially since they sacrificed democracy and buried it to spite Islamists after they failed in the political fray over the past three years. The more this group throws itself into the arms of the generals, the less they are taken seriously. Therefore, it is no surprise that El-Sisi asked them, in press statements that were leaked recently, to lead a campaign to bolster him in his position if he does not win the coming presidential elections.

The “leak” about El-Sisi conveys the outlook of the military institution regarding intellectuals and their important role in making the new situation legitimate by brainwashing the masses. It reflects their obvious contempt of the civil state that these intellectuals claim to want after the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood rule. It also demonstrates that the elite do not mind making one compromise after another in favour of the military institution.

Anyone who follows the debate of the Committee of 50, that is working to amend the constitution, regarding the mandate and privileges of the army will realise how weak and meek the civil elite are in confronting the military institution. It has even gone beyond pampering the military and giving it space in the civil arena which is unfathomable for any sane person. A few days ago, a member of the Tamarod (Rebel) campaign defended prosecuting civilians in military courts, demanded that the minister of defence should be allowed a 12-year term and that SCAF should have the right to veto the president’s choice of minister of defence.

There are many more such examples that reveal contradictions and falsehoods in many claims by the civil elite in Egypt.

Many key figures of this elite today believe that they are protected by the military institution and all raise the banner of “the army and the elite are one hand,” which is why many of them are disturbed by talk of reconciling with the Muslim Brotherhood. They have launched counter media campaigns against any mediation to resolve the current crisis, causing many mediators to back down in the face of the media assault. A case in point is Ahmed Kamal Abul Magd, who proposed an initiative to end the crisis and clear the air, but was lambasted with attacks and mockery.

The intellectual bankruptcy of the civil elite is similar to their moral bankruptcy. Since the January 25 Revolution in 2011, they have not presented a genuine political vision that can push the country towards democracy. Their sole battle was how to get rid of the Islamists at any cost.

It is astonishing that they impose such guardianship over the Egyptian people under the pretext that they are more aware and capable of deciding the people’s political choices, something they do in a piercing arrogant tone that contradicts the fundamentals of a genuine civil state built on the free choice of the citizenry. They forget that the Muslim Brotherhood were overthrown because of their attempt to impose their vision on society, which means the fate of the civil elite that is allied with the military will not be much different from their predecessors.

Woe is the fate of democracy in Egypt.





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14



Democracia
22-10-2013 09:44pm
18-
2+
Alla al Aswani
Hello dear author! Did you read the article about Alaa al Aswani from today? If this man is still confident and hopeful about the faith of Egypt, then this makes me even more strong believing in may own opinion I commented already. And I hope you will not put Mr. Aswani on one level with your "bankrupt civil elite"...
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13



abdul ghani mahfouz
22-10-2013 07:44pm
5-
10+
They are just showing their true colors
The situation of liberal elites of Egypt may seem stunning to foreigners but for Egyptians it's quite natural. Those parties and groups have always been living on the crumbs thrown to them by the autocratic regimes. They have no real understanding of the true essence of democracy or political liberalism. All their manoeuvres against Brotherhood and their underlying reasons are quite clear. Because they have always failed to get the attention of the electorate, they believe that the removal of Brotherhood would give them unprecedented chances to come to prominence. The problem is that they would get nothing in the same military dictatorship under which they had lived so long before the Brotherhood reign. They are losing every day. And because they have tied their fate to the coup, its sure failure would alienate them more and more. The coup is not only an illegal political act, but it was also accompanied by ations that are deemed war crimes against citizens that constitute a part of electorate.
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12



Dr Mohamed A M Mohamed
21-10-2013 07:21pm
5-
16+
Political Pipers vs. Real Liberals
The "illiberals" of Egypt can best be understood in the light of the well known proverb: "He who pays the piper calls the tune." Apparently, the Islamists have shown more liberalism. In a talk to some Islamists about the concept of liberalism, I had to conclude that the Muslim should be the most "liberal" of all. By accepting Allah as the only one to please, the Muslim has to pursue the truth and to deliver rights to all without fearing anyone but Allah. Besides, the Muslim must believe that none can prevent what Allah gives and none can give what Allah prevents. So, Sisi cannot give or prevent. Sisi can kill, detain and maim even his "illiberals" but not without being destined to happen. It is what the protesters on the ground do that will be decisive in the current situation equation. Freedom seekers must pay for freedom by struggling peacefully and enduring; as a result,they can achieve victory or be martyred. In either case, they are winners: pure liberalism, isn't it?
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Democracia
22-10-2013 01:51pm
126-
13+
Keep out....
Please, Dr. Mohamed, do me one favour: Keep Allah out of this discussion! All this has nothing to do with religion or god, all this is just concerning having power on this earth.
11



Muzz
21-10-2013 03:56pm
1-
9+
Heavy heart
Excellent piece. Bravo. Looks like there's still some light at the end of the tunnel?
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10



arab citizen
21-10-2013 10:39am
0-
7+
Just to say..
Thank you Mr. Khalil. Very Interesting!
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9



Anthony Grey
20-10-2013 11:48pm
1-
13+
A reader of Egyptian history
The biggest problem in Egypt that the genie of democracy has left the bottle. Once people have tasted democracy, it is unreasonable to expect Egyptians to accept a government that is not accountable to the people. In a democracy, military leaders are appointed by civilians. Police are held accountable to citizen review boards. Citizens cannot be tried by military tribunals. There is freedom of the press and of speech, and the right to peacefully demonstrate. The government cannot ban political parties or seize assets without due process. The judiciary must be open and transparent and defendants are not put in cages during a court trial. The only way Egypt can move forward is that all citizens and political parties have a seat at the table discussing Egypt’s future including representatives of the police, army, and various religions including the Muslim Brotherhood. The next election should be run under the auspices of the United Nations to insure a free and fair election. This is what it will take to move Egypt forward to a prosperous future.
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Dr Mohamed A M Mohamed
21-10-2013 09:58pm
1-
5+
Sorry for Error
Correction in the reply above:"....They must worry about Sisi's massacres, for none will die except at the destined time, not before not after
Dr Mohamed A M Mohamed
21-10-2013 07:36pm
3-
6+
Fear Barrier Broken
Indeed, having broken the barrier of fear and having realized how powerful they can be, the "freed" Egyptians will not let themselves be enslaved again. The coup has to be defeated, and those responsible have to be tried. It is worth struggling for. "Freed" Egyptians have to continue their PEACEFUL protests till they defeat the coup. They must worry about Sisi's massacres, for none will die except at the destined time, not before not after.
8



Ellias Ajadi
20-10-2013 03:42pm
4-
12+
Egyptians have themselves to blame
After the January 25 Revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood won the first democratic election in Egypt, it baffles me how they expected the rots entrenched by the Mubarak-era rent seekers to be undone. Now El Sisi is warming up to bring back the old regime. They have themselves to blame.
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7



Citizen
20-10-2013 07:54am
3-
14+
important to know
important to know is that Their predecessors did not kill fellow Egyptians,and did not closed religious channels ,and did not make a law that forbids to demonstate.Egyptians are just waiting for laws to come that forbids them to hear ,to see,and to speak.
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6



Amer
19-10-2013 10:14pm
1-
29+
Excellent article
An excellent article that highlights the underlying powers and influences attempting to shape Egypt's future.
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abdulrahman
20-10-2013 11:55am
6-
10+
They Are The Devils In Human Form
Evil elements who only are interested in their own narrow selfish interest at the expanse of thousands of lives and destruction of Egypt's democracy. The Egyptian must wake up and begin to destroy them - these evil forces.
5



Dalou
19-10-2013 10:10pm
1-
38+
To regress or not
A brilliant article, a true patriot who loves his country, trying to put some sense in an incredibly complex and complicated situation, a historical analysis
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