Egyptian “Presidential” Elections: The Dictator Runs Alone!
|Friday, January 12,2018 03:23|
Many say that so called “the re-election” of El Sisi, who is expected to announce his candidacy in the next few days, is conclusive and that the result will be as overwhelming as the 97 percent that he announced in the previous “election” nearly four years ago.
However, his failure to fulfill his basic promises may open the door to different results. The unprecedented devaluation of the Egyptian pound and the reduction of subsidies for fuel, energy and basic consumer goods, have made the middle class groan under the disastrous economic reality, not to mention that one third of Egyptians, whose daily income is one euro, live below the poverty line.
El Sisi's performance in what he calls "fight against terror" also paints a bleak picture. In contrast to his pledge to restore security, the bloody attacks that have left thousands of people dead are repeated more frequently. The Coptic churches are attacked even in the center of Cairo, while the rebellion of the Sinai Bedouin tribes against the regime is taking a civil war direction. The regime's resort to a military approach only to impose calm, even at the expense of civilian lives, warns of further deterioration of the situation in this strategic region.
In practice, El Sisi has eliminated all hopes of his rivals to run for president via pressures, threats and legal prosecutions. The most recent episode, in this regard, is the announcement by Ahmed Shafiq, who won second place in the 2012 elections, that he withdrew from the coming presidential elections according to his statement.
At the same time, sources that worked with Shafiq's 2012 campaign, said that his withdrawal was the result of repeated threats to his team, by officials in el Sisi entourage and some security apparatus, to reopen closed investigations of his alleged corruption, prosecute members of his family, and distort his image through orchestrated media campaigns, which led to Shafiq's withdrawal decision.
What happened with Shafiq coincides with what happened in the 2014 elections with the former chief of staff of the Egyptian armed forces, Gen. Sami Annan, where he announced his withdrawal in a press conference two days after his office issued a statement, saying that Annan was subjected to an assassination attempt by an unknown car before appearing at a press conference accompanied by pro-El Sisi media figures, and announcing his withdrawal from the elections in order to ensure the unity of the armed forces, and the country's supreme interest.
However, what make El Sisi more likely to prevail in the internal strife over power are the alliances he has built with Western powers in recent years. Last October, during his visit to Paris, el Sisi closed a 6 billion euro arms deal, including supplying the Egyptian army with the latest model of French aircrafts, warships and an advanced electronic surveillance program. During the visit, French President Emmanuel Macaron stressed the importance of enhancing exchange and coordination with Cairo. He declared, in a press conference, that he rejects the demands of journalists and human rights advocates to pay attention to the human rights grave violations by the Egyptian regime.
Last year alone, Germany's military exports to Egypt reached a record high of half a billion Euros. The two countries also signed an agreement to combat clandestine immigration from Egypt in the same year. Perhaps the best expression of the friendly relationship between the German government and El Sisi is German Foreign Minister Ziegmar Gabriel's words to his Egyptian counterpart during his visit to Cairo in 2016 that they have an "impressive president."
A view opposed by the international human rights organizations that accuse El Sisi regime of arresting 60,000 people for political reasons since the overthrow of freely elected President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, which resulted in, at least, one thousand civilian deaths according to Human Rights Watch. Human Rights organizations also counted 1,700 missing persons whose fate is unknown as a result of El Sisi regime's crackdown on dissidents, especially members of the Muslim Brotherhood, while the number of those executed in the past two years alone has risen to 100.