A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, August 9, 2013

General Sisi Post Generates My Best Comment Thread Ever

My post yesterday on General Sisi's possible ambitions has produced an unusually long, and inventive, comments thread for this blog. After a first comment that was a bit tongue in cheek but fairly straightforward, things started off in a whole new direction, for example:
While still a young lad, he used his slingshot in 1956 to stop an Israeli tank in Suez. The rock he hurled went straight through the driver's view slit causing the tank to swerve off the track, causing the entrapment of several tanks behind it. This bold move and not Eisenhower's intervention was the real cause of the end of the 1956 aggression . . .

While not technically yet in the military, he was the first Egyptian to cross the canal. The true hero of 1973. Sadly, his accomplishments were not honored because of a jealous Sadat eager to claim all glory from the war  . . .

So he studied at home at night by candlelight and wrote his lessons out on a shaduff using fakhm. A practice that also developed his reflexes and coordination skills.

Later when he was a young man he sold bread to travelers at the Ramses train station. One day he discovered that he had shortchanged a traveler 1 piastre. He walked all the way from Cairo to Menufia to repay the man . . .
That's nothing.

While a young cadet at the Military Academy in 1973, Al Sisi analyzed the Vietnam War and prepared a plan that would have ensured an American victory.

His letter was only delivered to the Pentagon in 1975 because of the incompetence of the American postal system. 
And several more in this vein. Read them and, by all means, keep them coming.  My readers are funnier than I am.

UPDATE:  And now you're commenting on this post. Great.

And more seriously. don't miss Issandr El Amrani's take on Sisi, including a lot of links.


Anonymous said...

Today I will share a secret with you that our modest, beloved, and heroic leader has kept for over 40 years.

As is known, our great Umm Kalthoum's voice began to fail in the late 1960's.

What is not known is that for the last four years of her career, Al Sisi sang the songs and our Kawkab only pretended to sing.

At her last performance at the Kasr el Nil, the tape recorder speeded up creating a strange sound. She never performed again out of fear that her secret would be discovered.

The General never revealed this, but one night after a 300 kilometer hike carrying a 500 kilogram backpack he gave a rendition of AlAtlal in the shower in the barracks that brought tears to my eyes.

Ibrahim Nagi said...

Anonymous' post has touched my conscience and I can no longer live a lie.

I did not write al Atlal, Abdel Fattah did.

Bill Jates said...

Our reluctant president for life is a man of many talents, but he is as well a modest man who does not brag.

Many do not know that he actually invented the Internet.

As a young lad in primary school, he sketched out the basic concept and some of the technical details one night at home. He intended to give this to his teacher the next day as part of a science assignment.

On his usual 50 kilometer walk to school, he ran into foreign tourists who were trying to find the Egyptian Museum. As a hospitable and generous Egyptian would, he insisted on personally taking them to the museum.

On the way, he dropped the Internet plans and a young Al Gore picked them up.

The rest is history.

Abdel Moneim said...

That's not the only invention that our kindly leader for life came up with.

In order to pay for his sister's wedding he sold the Winklevoss Brothers the idea for Facebook or Kitab al Wag as he called it for Fifty Pounds. They were visting on Spring break from Harvard.

As an honorable man, he never went back on his word on the sale or tried to extract money from them because to a man of honor his word is more important than mere money.

The General's idea came from his study of ancient Egyptian temple paintings. A story for another time of how he influenced a young Zahi Hawass choice of career and later guided him to make several important discoveries in the Valley of the Kings.

Zahi said...

Even the hat was his idea.

M. H. Heikal said...

You published the picture of a young AlSisi giving flowers to President Nasser but you did not tell the story!

Maybe you do not know or maybe you are trying to hide our selfless leaders accomplishments.

When he gave Nasser the flowers, Nasset bent down to thank him and AlSisi said "You should build a dam at Aswan".

Nasser liked the idea and later used to consult him on a regular basis.

AlSisi was sick with influenza in June 1967. Had he been well, the course of history might well have been changed.

O. Suleiman said...

Ian Fleming who met the General when he ran one of Egypt's intelligence services based the character James Bond on the General.

But as usual for a foreigner changed the name and nationality to deny Egyptians their hard earned glory.

C. Powell said...

You slander our gracious and kindly leader by saying that he has no military experience in war.

Yet, as a young cadet studying at the US War College, he gave Norman Schwarzkopf the battle plan for Desert Storm.

I know I was there.

J. Kim said...

He is indeed a remarkable man whose talents and wisdom are vast as the oceans.

After learning Korean in a week, he wrote Gangnam Style for Psy. If you look close at the video you'll see him in more than one scene as Psy.

Hint look for the trademark Beloved and Benevolent Leader Sunglasses.

Brian E. said...

After Paul died, Abdel Fattah filled in for him. The Beatles were never more popular.

Two proofs:

(1) You never see the General and Paul at the same event or in the same picture.

(2) It's all there in Revolution, but in ancient Egyptian. The first to notice this were Coptic scholars in Asyut, but the story has been surpressed until now.

M. Tantawi said...

Everyone knows that world leaders from George Bush to Jacques Chirac used to call Mubarak when they had a problem they could not solve.

But few know that the sage advice that Mubarak gave was not his own.

He'd always say "Let me think about it and I'll call you in the morning".

Then he'd ask Abdel Fattah what he thought before calling back.

Anonymous said...

Most of the posters have mentioned the intellectual accomplishments of our gracious and dear leader.

But how many know the man's kind heartedness or humanity?

When he was head of Military Intelligence he instituted a policy of not torturing suspects on national or religious-including Christian--holidays.

And stood his ground against a furious Omar Suleiman because "it was the right thing to do".

Tolerant, humane - a leader for all Egyptians!

A. Seada said...


Your post bearly scratches the surface of the man's kindheartedness.

One time during an interrogation, he was passing by. He stopped, looked deeply into my eyes, and said "I feel your pain".

Then he attached another car battery to the electrodes.

I'll never forget that personal gesture. Even today it means so much to me.

I'd call to personally thank him, but my phone is still broken.

M. L. Baradei said...

General AlSisi's family was so poor that the only time they weren't hungry or thirsty was during Ramadan.

A man like that understands the plight of the average Egyptian.

That's why according to the Army's figures more than 90 million Egyptians demonstrated on the Yaum al tafweed in favor the General.

Some say the number was even more but that the General with his characteristic modesty ordered the Army to lower the true figure.

Such is our wise and dear General. The only President Egypt will ever need!

Adel E. said...

My greatest rival in cinema and the theater was the General.

When I learned he was being considered for the title role in AlZaeem, I knew I had little chance.

When I was picked, I was surprised.
Later I ran into the General at the GSC, I asked him what happened.

"I decided against it" he told me.
I asked why. He smiled and said "Baadain".

I never knew until last month what that puzzling remark meaned.

S. Diab said...

As usual MHH is not the father of two goods but of two lies. By now if there were any justice or freedom, he'd have changed his name to Kizbain.

No, our young General did not tell Nasser to build the High Dam. The decision to build the dam was made before the General was born. Rather he told Nasser "Yemen for the Arabs is like Afghanistan for the British". Proving that even at this young age, he had surpassed Nasser in understanding.

And finally, he was NOT sick in Jun 1967. He was standing guard for Egypt -not from his front porch - but from the Burg al Qahira. When he saw the Israeli planes take off from their bases, he rushed to the Nile Hilton where he called Abdel Hakeem. But like Nasser about Yemen, Abdel Hakeem refused to listen.

A man this wise is a rare treasure and that he is willing to serve his entire life as our President is the most generous act he could make.

K. Al Fouli said...

But to rule a man must understand politics.

Here our wise General is a man of wisdom. Egypt's own Karl Rove.

The "Big Man" and I never made a move without first taking his advice.

Al Thaalabi said...

Glory to the Egyptians and to the Arabs has been restored.

A modern Khalid Ibn Walid and AlHajjaj Ibn Yusuf.

Watch out all your Jabir bin Abd Allahs out there!

Anonymous said...

If not Yazid, a least Ibn Ziyad!

Anonymous said...

"What's the difference between Bashar AlAssad and Abdel Fattah Al Sisi?"

About two years.

Sabry said...

Many of Egypt's Christians have criticized the Morsi Government for discriminating against them.

They are likely to be much relieved by the accession of The General to power.

When he was a military cadet, he was asked to determine the winner of a contest in which a Muslim and a Copt were tied.

He solved the issue with Solomonic wisdom - a trait he's continued to demonstrate to this day.

"I will show no preference in my decision because I am a Muslim. We will decide this via a fair and transparent contest of questions".

Turning to the Muslim officer, he asked "What is the land of 1 million martyrs?"

"Algeria" answered the officer.


Turning to the Copt, he said "Now name them".

Such is the wisdom and justice of Egypt's beloved and dear leader.

S. Hawking said...

More than 20 years ago I was struggling to find a topic for a book.

I was completely stuck and called Michio Kaku in New York and told him of my plight.

He said that whenever he was stuck, he called a guy in Cairo - not a formally trained physicist but a person born with scientific sense.

I called the General. Unfortunately, he was very busy with a recalcitrant interrogee and send only three brief words "Asif, maandish waqt."

Those three insightful words led me to write a best seller.

Such is the wisdom of God's gift to Egypt!

C. Riche said...

Usually every day about 4 PM Abdel Fattah would stop by for a cup of ea after selling bread to travelers at Ramses Station.

It was one of the most anticipated events.

As he entered, all would stop talking and he would head directly for the table where Yusuf, Tawfiq, and Taha sat.

They got many an idea for their works as well as helpful criticism of their first drafts from this young lad - who then as now is wise beyond his years.

How Egyptian literature flourished under his gracious tutelage and how it will again.

Oh, my General, your table and Egypt await you!

H. Kissinger said...

To record all the illustrious accomplishments of this remarkable man would require volumes and volumes.

But what of the General's statesmanship?

It is little known that the General is the father of Camp David.

When Carter was looking for a way to secure his legacy, he thought that a Middle East peace would be a crowning achievement.

He tried and failed and tried again. His advisors told him it was impossible. Calling in the head of the CIA, he posed his problem.

The reply, "There is only one man with the bold and farsighted vision to achieve your goal." And then wrote the General's name and phone number on a piece of paper and handed it to Carter.

Carter phoned him. "Basit, ya raiis, basit. Attini yaum wahid".

One call to Sadat was all that was required although he did have to phone a skeptical Begin twice.

At Camp David, the General was there to persuade Sadat to make certain concessions to secure the peace.

Our General, our President --statesman, peacemaker, beloved and wise leader.

Many will have noticed that just before Kerry announced his venture to restart the peace process he visited Egypt. Americans hope that the General will not turn his back on them as they have on his.

C. Riche said...

I forgot to mention how he helped Taha with Arabic vocabulary and grammar.

He would take the older man aside so as not to embarrass him in front of his peers. Patiently he would explain. Sometimes more than once.

Usually, the old man would evenutally exclaim, "I see, I see".

And soon was calling the much younger Abdel Fattah, "Aini".

Taha Al Shazli said...

I too was a guest of the General when he was Head of Military Intelligence.

His acts of kindness towards us all were legendary.

Al Libyi once told me that the General insisted that they use fresh clean water each time. Not an inconsiderable expense given the number of "baths" he received.

Batons and truncheons were always squeaky clean - at least at the beginning of a session.

Like Mr. Seada the General stopped by once, patted me on the head and said "I feel your pain". He then turned to my interrogator and said, "Adel it's not enough, increase the voltage".

Whenever I try to sit down, I remember the General's kind words and his cigarette lighter.

Anonymous said...

Sual: What's the difference between Mubarak and AlSisi?

Ijaba: The Public Prosecutor has already filed charges against Mubarak for his crimes against the Egyptian people.

B. Netanyahu said...

Of all the Arabs, I always considered Abdel Fattah my only true and reliable partner for peace.

Husni M., Taba Prison said...

Kamal characterized Abdel Fattah's political skills perfectly.

We never lost an election as long as we took his advice.

I'm sure that when he's running his campaigns for the new National Democratic Fuluul Party - neither will they.

He's a blooming genius to quote Tony Blair.

Avi L, Tel Aviv said...

He is always welcome in my beit and that of my people.

C. Riche said...

A very different Taha in my cafe.

AlShazli was never welcome. He hung out at Groppis with his extremist friends.

Bashar A., said...

From Damascus I send my greetings to my brother Abdel Fattah in Cairo.

Comrades in arms against terrorism.

We practice what the famous American Jefferson said, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of demonstrators". Ideally peaceful ones.

Your friend in Damascus

B. Begin said...

My dad always said he was my best advisor at Camp David.

S. Rifaat said...

Our General's genius knows few if any bounds.

It was his keen architectural vision that gave us both Khaled El Fauda's Tower in Zamalek and the bridge over 26 July Street.

An Alexandre Marcel for our times!

H. Nour said...

Oh, misguided editor, you distort history with your lies!

In the picture you posted, it was Nasser who gave the flowers to our young General. Not the General giving Nasser the flowers.

Even at that early age, his genius had been recognized.

Nasser was planning to amend the Constitution so that he could name Abdel Fattah Vice President. Then he would have resigned in his favor.

But the other members of the RCC were jealous of the young leader and stopped Nasser's plans.

A great loss for Egypt and one which is only now being rectified.

K. Sutherland said...

When I found out that my character was based on your dearly loved General, I demanded that Fox acknowledge that Jack Bauer was Egyptian.

They refused and I walked away from the show.

In the new series, due credit will be given. And Sama al Masry will play a new character Cleo - short for Cleopatra a Coptic exchange officer from the MOIS.

Together we'll fight elected presidents and legislatures across the world.

C. de Pablo said...

I'll be joining the cast too reprising my role as Ziva.

A restoration of the old pre Morsi tri-partite partnership in our first episode "The Tunnels of Gaza" when CTC opens a branch in Cairo and we close the tunnels.

You'll love the scene at Torah Makhoum when Jack looks at the two way mirror during an interrogation and says "Is that enough voltage, mon general?"