A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, November 1, 2013

At Last, a Pro-Sisi Video I Can Applaud, But Also Some Serious Questions: If Not Sisi, Who?

I have had a reasonable amount of fun ridiculing the over-the-top Sisi cult in Egypt; it has at times verged on the North Korean in its excesses, and the number of respected Egyptian liberals. including a few friends who spent some time in Mubarak's jails, seem to have drunk the Kool-Aid:
Say it ain't so, Saad.

Before I give you a Sisi support video I find I can actually get behind, though, let's address a question that's easy to miss as we dismiss the cult of personality: but, if not Sisi, who?

Who indeed. Even if the EU pressures for a political reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood produce results (and I see no sign of that happening), a Muslim Brotherhood candidate will not win again, and I can't envision one even running. Those who despised Morsi will see the Nour Party or other Islamist candidates to his right as equally taboo though they may be allowed to stand. So who then?

An outright fallul like Ahmad Shafiq? An aging diplomat like Amr Moussa, a slightly less tainted fallul? Mohamed ElBaradei, who excites (well, perhaps that's too strong a word) only a few intellectual salons, and the West? Amr Hamzawy? Hamdeen Sabahi. a Nasserist who showed strength in Cairo in the 2012 elections, but no rural support? I can't picture any of those other than Sabahi having a snowball's chance in hell, to be frank. And Sabahi is Cairo's candidate I think.

Even before July 3. I suspect there was already a groundswell, given the lack of security and unending conflict, for a man on a white horse. The Pharaoh habit doesn't die easily. The enthusiasm with which liberals have embraced Sisi, but some did that with Nasser, and after the Terror many French Revolutionaries bought into the Bonapartist fantasy. (As I've said before, this isn't "fascism," but it is Bonapartism with a splash of Nasserism.)

Sisi could most likely win a  free and fair election right now; some Egyptians are ready to elect him Pharaoh. That's not a good sign for democracy, but what's the alternative? Who else can win? I'm not happy with the situation, but you know what? Right now nobody in Egypt gives a damn about what Americans think, and  I surely don't have a vote.

Now, after all this serious stuff, a Sisi cult video that at least is worth watching. I've also lamented, over the past few years, the decline and gradual eradication under Islamist pressure if the Egyptian cultural tradition known as raqs sharqi or, in Western vernacular, belly-dancing. This comes from the Sisi Cult Watch Tumblr I've referenced before, and I know little more about its origins (so follow any links at your own risk), and will merely note that as someone who appreciates Eastern dance it at least gets one's attention. (Though this is more a tacky stripshow sexy bump and grind* without the stripping than the classic gyrations of the real belly-dance.) Still, this should get at least some recalcitrant males to drink the Sisi Kool-Aid:
What flavors does that Kool-Aid come in?

*Or so I've heard second-hand.


Anonymous said...

That is the "indispensable man" argument of all tinpot dictators: there is no one but me who can save the country.

Allow a range of candidates to run in a primary and then the two top vote getters compete in the finals.

As to those who opt for a pharaoh, can we agree to stop dignifying them with the term "liberals" or "democrats" and just use the term "political opportunists" or "imagined liberals and false democrats"?

Anonymous said...

I see the General continues to restore democracy in Egypt one cancelled TV show at a time - Al Bernameg is off the air.