The speech made by General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Sunday before a group of Egyptian army and police officers, may be considered a turning point in the man’s path; he seemed nervous and panicked and was clearly angry but trying to hide it so as not to explode in the face of those present. The general, as usual, said some empty words, but even his tone was obviously full of anger and resentment due to the “criticisms” directed at him by some of his mouthpieces and media outlets after the flash floods that occurred in Alexandria two weeks ago.
He seemed shaken and frantic as he offered justifications and excuses for the bankruptcy and failure of his government. This includes the scandal of failing to hold parliamentary elections; the ongoing economic decline, which caused the Egyptian Pound to fall to unprecedented lows; the collapse of daily facilities such as education and health; and the disaster in Alexandria. All he could do was resort to the list of excuses used by ousted President Hosni Mubarak. Sometimes he would talk about the “overpopulation” that prevents economic improvement, and at other times he would talk about how the deterioration of public services and facilities began decades before he came to office.
Al-Sisi seems to be trying to defuse a potential explosion due to the high cost of living and the deterioration of living standards. He called on the army to interfere in order to help lower the prices of essential commodities by the end of November. This is an explicit admission of the spread of economic activity to the military institution and its domination over the official and unofficial economy. In a tone that hinted of begging, as well as impatience, Al-Sisi called on his media outlets to “spread hope and optimism”, and to understand and acknowledge the magnitude of the dangers facing the “the Egyptian state”.
The most exciting and astonishing part of the general’s speech came when he reiterated his usual argument that those who criticise him should take his place and govern the state. “Are you punishing me because I came and stood here?” he asked. The man still believes that he is performing a historic mission and that God chose him from among humankind to perform this mission; he still believes that he is the only one capable of navigating Egypt through this bottleneck. He does not realise that he is the one who caused the bottleneck and threw Egypt into the river of the unknown. The general did not talk about his achievements, as he usually does; he spoke in a miserable and pathetic manner about the problems and the conspiracies being plotted against Egypt, and how he is working hard to thwart them. He did not talk about the scandal of voting in favour of Israel at the UN, as he does not view Tel Aviv as an “enemy”, but as a friend whose “national security must be protected”, as he always says.
There are many things to be inferred from Al-Sisi’s speech, the first of which is that the man no longer trusts many of those around him, especially the media personalities and journalists who are defending him day and night and who justify all of his disasters and problems. Despite this, he is mocking them openly and criticising them by saying, “The media is a shambles.” The general has also started to sense the danger that is coming the way of him and his government. It seems that the intelligence agencies have started sending him reports regarding the quiet trouble brewing beneath the surface due to his failure to keep the promises he made. This drove him to address the people in order to absorb and contain some of the growing anger.
The third inference is the fact that the man is counting on the army and asking it to interfere in order to solve Egypt’s economic problems. This is either his way of involving the army in his problems — to enable him to lay some of the blame on it — or of trying to find a way out of the economic crisis at any cost.
Fourthly, he started to realise that the language of pacification and pretending to be shy and innocent is no longer fooling anyone, so he now resorts to threats, intimidation and impatience. This is a noticeable change in the man’s manner and it reflects the extent of his tension and his failure to control his temper, especially after the increase in criticism, albeit timid criticism, directed at him from his supporters.
General Al-Sisi did not propose any visions or solutions for the growing crises. He chose the easier way, commenting on the failure and problems of the past administrations and holding them responsible for what is happening now. He staged his coup on the pretext of the Muslim Brotherhood’s failure to meet the demands of the people and fulfil their aspirations. He has not grown tired of reiterating his line of trying to “preserve the Egyptian state” at a time when he continues to do the opposite. With his failure and confusion, he is paving the way for an explosion that no one will be able to stop, as the magnitude of stifled tension and anger in the country continues to grow. Meanwhile, the gap between the government and the people has become very wide at a time when the Goebbels-like media is exercising all forms of censorship and a blackout regarding everything that is occurring, with the exception of a few events. It is as if there are those who are deliberately inciting the public against him and seeking to overthrow the man gradually.
The general is now bankrupt and he no longer has anything up his sleeves to present to his people. He is even unable to make more promises. All that he can do is shed his facade of fabricated modesty and gear himself with arrogance and egotism, and ask them, as Gaddafi did before him in another land and time, “Who are you?”