A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sisi Makes it Official

We can't say we didn't see it coming. As expected for months Field Marshal al-Sisi has resigned from the military today, and has announced that he is running for President. With the campaign season opening Monday, he was up against a deadline; serving military cannot run for public office. (Nor, in fact, can they even vote.)  The video in Arabic is at the end of this post, along with a full text in English.  Ahram Online provides excerpts:
"Today is the last time you’ll see me wearing this [military] uniform. I was honoured to wear it to defend the nation and today I am also leaving it behind to defend the nation,” said El-Sisi, stressing that he has been a member of the armed forces for over 45 years.
The last few years in Egypt have proved "that no one could be president without the people’s will,” he said.
"My determination to run in the election does not bar others from their right to run. I will be happy if whoever the people choose succeeds,” he said, adding that he hopes for "a nation for all without exclusion.”
Any Egyptian who has not been convicted by the law, El-Sisi said, is unconditionally welcomed to be an active partner in the future of Egypt.
He said that he does not intend to "have a traditional campaign but rather a comprehensive vision for the nation to rise,” and called on his supporters not "to spend a lot” for his campaign.
The presidential hopeful also expressed his determination to fight for a "fearless Egypt."
"Egypt is rich with its resources and people [and yet] it relies on donations and assistance. This is not acceptable.
Egyptians deserve much better," he said.
El-Sisi pointed out that Egypt faces serious economic, social, political and security-related challenges that existed before the 25 January 2011 revolution and have continued after the 30 June 2013 protests which led to the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi.
Egyptians deserve to live with dignity, security and freedom, he said, in addition to having access to jobs, food, education, medicine and housing.
"Production must start again in all state apparatuses. Our mission is to restore Egypt,” he said.
It's a predictable campaign platform, but the coming weeks will show us if Sisi has a program or just slogans. Sisi is so popular right now because the Muslim Brotherhood failed so miserably to address any of these issues (platform: "Islam is the solution").

During today's meeting between SCAF and President Adly Mansour, Lt. Gen. Sidqi Subhi, the Armed Forces Chief of Staff, was promoted to full General, a rank normally reserved for the Defense Minister and a sign he is in line for that job.

As an aside, and keeping in mind that Mansour is still the interim President and Sisi one of his Cabinet Ministers, take a look at the body language in the photo at left: which one is being deferential?

Lest you forget Sisi's military background, there's the official photo of today's meeting of SCAF with Mansour; as always in SCAF photos, the Navy and Air Force chiefs look a little lonely:
Here is the speech itself, followed by an English text provided by Egyptian Streets and posted to their Facebook page.

And the translation, as published by Egyptian Streets:
 "Great people of Egypt,
Today, I stand before you in my military uniform for the last time for I have made up my mind to retire as the Minister of Defense. I have spent my whole life as a soldier of this homeland serving its hopes and aspirations and so I will continue.

This is a very significant moment for me. The first time I wore the military uniform was in 1970 as 15-year cadet in the Air Force High School, almost 45 years ago. And I will always be proud of wearing the uniform of defending my country.

These recent years of our nation's history have conclusively shown that no one can become president of Egypt against the will of the people or short of their support. Never can anyone force Egyptians to vote for a president they do not want. Therefore, I am here before you humbly stating my intention to run for the presidency of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

Only your support will grant me this great honor.

I stand before you to say true and genuine words as always. I say to you that I will answer the demand of a wide range of Egyptians who have called on me to run for this honorable office. And I will always remain in the service of this country in any capacity desired by Egyptians.

The great people of Egypt,

In this moment that I stand before you, I intend to remain as honest with you, with my country and with myself as I have always been.

We, Egyptians, have an extremely difficult task and a costly mission. The economic, social, political and security realities - whether before January 25th Revolution 2011 or the accumulations afterwards until June 30th Revolution 2013- have reached the limit that requires an honest and brave confrontation of challenges.

We must be honest to ourselves. Our country is facing monumental challenges while our economy is weak. Millions of our youths are suffering from unemployment. This cannot be acceptable.

Millions of Egyptians are sick and cannot find cure. This is also unacceptable.

Egypt is rich with its resources and people while it relies on donations and assistance. This is not acceptable, either.

Egyptians deserve to a lead a life of dignity, security and freedom. They deserve to have a job, food, education, medical treatment and affordable homes.
We, Egyptians, face tough challenges:

- The flapping state systems that cannot perform their duties need rebuilding. This is an issue that requires firm handling so that these systems can recover, cohere, unify and be in tune.

- Production has to resume in all sectors to save our country real dangers.

- The State needs to regain its posture and power that suffered much in the past period of time.

Our mission is to restore Egypt.

What Egypt witnessed in the last years in politics or media, internally or externally made this country occasionally trespassed. It is time for this disrespect and this intrusion to stop. This is an esteemed country and everyone must know that this is a decisive moment that disrespecting Egypt is an adventure with consequences that Egypt is not a playground for any internal, regional or international party and will never be.

I believe the realization of the future roadmap formulated by the truly patriotic forces in a decisive moment in the history of this nation has been our immediate task. On this path, God has ensured us success in drafting the constitution and here we are, taking our second stride to the presidential elections to be followed by the legislative elections.

My nomination for office should not deny others their right and duty to run if they see themselves competent to undertake the responsibility. I will certainly be pleased with the choice of the people and the winner of the voters' trust.

I call upon the partners of this nation to realize that we all – the sons and daughters of Egypt- are in the same boat navigating to safety with no scores to settle or temporary disputes to pursue. We need our motherland for all its children with no alienation, exclusion or discrimination. We have open arms to everybody here or abroad declaring that any Egyptian not indicted by the law that we all abide by is an active partner in making the future with no limits or restraints.

The great people of Egypt

Despite all the hardships that our country is going through, I stand before you without the slightest feeling of despair or doubt. I rather stand with absolute faith in God and in your strong will to change Egypt to the better and usher your country to its rightful place among advanced nations.

It was your will that made the change. It was not the politicians or the military that removed two regimes. It is you, the people.

The greatness of the Egyptian will have been evidently witnessed. However, we need to recognize that we are destined to do all in our powers to overcome future difficulties. The making of the future is a joint effort. It is a contract between the ruler and the people where the ruler is responsible before God and the people for his part and the people also have a commitment to work hard and show patience. A ruler cannot succeed alone it takes the joint effort of both the ruler and the people to succeed.

The whole Egyptian people know that big victories can be attained for they have done that before. Yet, our will and desire to achieve victory have to couple with hard work.

The abilities and talents of 7 thousand years have to ally with hard work.

It is the hard, sincere and patriotic work that makes successful countries. Every Egyptian able to work will be required to exert real efforts and I will be the first to spare no pains for a future well-earned by Egypt. This is the time to rally for the sake of our country.

With complete openness and under the circumstances that you all know, I am not going to launch a traditional presidential campaign. However, it is your right to share my vision of the future. This will be in a clear platform that seeks a modern and democratic Egypt once the High Electoral Commission allows for that. Yet, if you may, I will do that with no extravagance neither in words, funds or traditional practices for the circumstances are not in our favor.

My fellow citizens

We are threatened by the terrorists by parties who seek the destruction of our life, safety and security. It is true this is my last day in uniform but I will fight every day for Egypt free of fear and terror not only Egypt but the whole region. I repeat what I have said before we'd rather die before Egyptians are terrorized.

Finally, I will speak about hope hope that is the outcome of hard work hope that is the security and stability. Hope is the dream to usher Egypt to its leading place in the world. It is the dream to restore its strength, power and influence and teach the world as it did before.

I cannot make miracles. Rather, I propose hard work and self-denial. And know that if I am granted the honor of the leadership, I promise that we together, leadership and people, can achieve stability, safety and hope for Egypt.

God bless Egypt and its glorious people.

Thank you."

1 comment:

David Mack said...

For those worried that this signals a return to authoritarian rule by a president who rose to power through the Egyptian military, let me remind you that the Egyptian judiciary has just demonstrated its independence as a bulwark against abuse by those with executive powers. (Ha, ha ha.)