Egypt’s Coming Election – Surprises Can Happen

BY: Middle East Observer Staff

In 2011, everyone in the Middle East thought that the old regimes were toppled and a new system with a new spirit, more youthful, more revolutionary was replacing it. It is obvious that the route was not smooth as many believed it would be.

Yemen is in a destructive civil war with no health, education or social life, about 10 thousand civilians died in a war led by Saudi Arabia. Syria is totally destroyed and half of its population fled and sought refuge is many countries, while Assad supported by Russia and Iran are not likely to pursue other plans in the near future. Libya is in another civil war with Emirates and Egypt’s regime along with France and Italy welcoming relations with General Haftar, while the international community is still backing Al-Serraj as the legal head of government. ISIS expanded their operations in Libya; the situation is Libya is still very critical with no imminent hope for a breakthrough.

General Al-Sisi seized power from elected president Morsi in July 2013 and launched a massive campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood and revolutionary forces killing hundreds and putting 60,000 in prison. Egypt’s economy is in its worst position with inflation rate crossing 40% and external debts reaching 79 Bn Dollars against 45 Bn in 2013. Sinai is witnessing an insurgency with hundreds of Ansar beit almaqdes killed and scores of army soldiers ambushed and killed. The last terrorist attack in Alwahat few kilo meters from Giza, where 16 officers were killed, is another example of how terrorism is getting nearer the main cities like Cairo and Giza. Yet, Al-sisi has become more acceptable in the West and is being received cordially in Germany, Britain and lastly in France by President Macron who avoided reminding him of the human rights situation in Egypt saying he would not give lessons to Egypt on Human Rights. Sisi is still getting a big support from his close ally Mohamed Bin Zayed and he is getting closer to Mohamed Bin Selman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia who is expected to be the king in the near future.

Amid all this cloudy situation in the Middle East, the presidential election in Egypt will take place early next year; till now it is planned to be in March. While Sisi is planning to run for his second term, other possible candidates are considering running against him. The mission of running against Sisi is like the mission impossible, especially when he has the support of the army generals, the parliament that he chose its members carefully to ensure full control over legislation, his media arms that control the whole media channels in Egypt now, as well as the regional support and his close relation with President Trump, who has described him as “awesome”.

But as the situation in the region is shaky and dramatic changes take place over night, everything can be possible. For example, General Shafik, who used to serve in President Mubarak’s cabinet for 13 years, was his last prime minister, ran for presidency against Dr. Morsi and lost by minimal percent, may run for the next election, and if this turns out to be true as many sources confirm, then one can ask is he running without a support from the army or some of it, or without the support of the Emirates which has been hosting him in Abu Dhabi since 2012 till now.

Is the Emirates happy with Al-sisi? Yes and No. He is their man that they have supported till he came to power. It is known that Mohamed bin Zayed is like the god father of Sisi, but in many incidents Sisi was not so obedient to MBZ especially in Yemen and Palestine. MBZ is not happy with the economic performance of Egypt although he gave Sisi many of the top consultants and he wished to have a self-dependent Egypt not the one that asks for money and free petrol every month, “We are not a money machine” he said once about his relation with Sisi.

If part of the army and Emirates start to plan before the state becomes a failure, we can expect surprises in the coming election. It is not a high possibility still, but no one knows what the coming weeks might bring.