Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sisi is all out of ideas

Comment: A recent speech delivered by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reveals that he cannot even give Egyptians false hope, writes Khalil al-Anani.

The speech delivered by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi two days ago in front of an audience of Egyptian army and police officials could be considered a turning point for the legacy of a man who seemed visibly tense and angry.

As per usual, the general dwelled on a number of inconsequential matters, but he could not hide his obvious anger at what he saw as "criticism" levelled against him by some of his aides and media arms, after the flooding of Alexandria two weeks ago.

The general seemed shaken and scared while making excuses for the political bankruptcy of his regime.

Cairo's crises include the voter boycott of parliamentary elections and the deterioration of Egypt's economy leading to an unprecedented drop in the Egyptian pound - as well as the ongoing catastrophes of education and health - all topped off by the drowning of Alexandria.
    Sisi seemed to be attempting to defuse a bomb that could explode at any moment due to rising inflation and worsening living conditions
Sisi had no choice but to resort to the catalogue of excuses used by the deposed President Hosni Mubarak.

He blames "population increase" for hindering economic recovery at times and at others says that the infrastructure has been deteriorating for decades prior to his coming to power.

Sisi seemed to be attempting to defuse a bomb that could explode at any moment due to rising inflation and worsening living conditions.

He called upon the army to intervene to regulate the prices of essential products and stop inflation before the end of November, which is a clear admission of the expansion of the military's economic activities.

He also seemed to be begging - while simultaneously threatening - his media allies to "inspire hope in people" and to realise and convey the dangers that face the "Egyptian state".

However, the most peculiar aspect of Sisi's speech was when he repeated his over-used statement that his critics should stand in his shoes and govern, saying: "You're punishing me because I've come and stood here?"

The man still believes that he has come to carry out an historic mission - and that he was chosen by God to complete that mission.

He also thinks that he is the only person who can save Egypt - when he was the person to push the country into the abyss.

The man did not speak of his achievements as he normally does, but spoke about the conspiracies being plotted against Egypt, which he is tirelessly attempting to thwart.

There are many things one can read into Sisi's speech, including the fact that he no longer trusts those who surround him, especially the media personalities - even though they sing his praises and justify his crimes and failures.

The general has finally realised that he is in danger, along with his regime, as it seems the intelligence agencies have finally started sending him reports of growing public discontent due to his failures and false promises.
    Sisi is now attempting to find a way out of the economic morass at any cost, including implicating the army

Sisi is now attempting to find a way out of the economic morass at any cost, including implicating the army by asking it to intervene, and changing his tone of false humility to one that is more threatening and confrontational.

In short, the general is no longer able to hide his anger and frustration after facing increasing criticism, even from some of his supporters.

General Sisi did not provide a plan or vision to combat the crises facing Egypt, but chose the easier route of blaming previous administrations for the country's current problems.

This is the man who carried out a military coup against the Muslim Brotherhood under the excuse that they had failed to achieve popular demands, and relentlessly talks about preserving the Egyptian state, when he is precisely responsible for its corruption.

General Sisi is all out of ideas and has nothing more to offer the Egyptian people - not even false promises. The only thing left for his to do is to quit the pretence and emulate Muammar Gaddafi, asking his population: "Who are you?"

Dr Khalil al-Anani is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute. He is a leading academic expert on Islamist movements, authoritarianism and democratisation in the Middle East.

Follow him on Twitter: @khalilalanani

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