General Sissi is no savior for Egypt’s non-Islamists

Quick glances at the events that lead to the June 30 protests and the subsequent army take-over on July 3rd are enough for any observer to understand that Sissi’s success came mainly in his ability to garner a wide coalition against the Muslim Brotherhood. This support included a wide section of the political elite, the police, media, judiciary, artists, and the general public.

The police and army are now coordinating their moves for the first time since January 2011 and are unleashing their coercive forces to subdue the Muslim Brotherhood and their alliance. Does that mean that the non-Islamists are winning, or even thriving within “Sissi’s coalition?” The simple answer is no. This comes about for various reasons.

For a start, it is not a homogenous coalition. In fact, the opposite is true, and the subgroups are only united by the their anti-Muslim Brotherhood stance. When considering all else, they have different visions and intentions. While some aspire for democracy, equality, and freedom, others are illiberal and are willing to welcome autocracy as a small price to regain their pre-January 25-revolution comfort zone.

The resignation of El Baradei was an early sign of the fragility of this coalition. The disputed protest law is another indication. This law has generated widespread opposition from parties that were previously united on June 30, from the 6th of April to Tamarod, and reaching even groups to the right. All have expressed their opposition to the protest law, and in a way have started to re-share some common ground with the Muslim Brotherhood. This common ground may not be enough to heal past enmity, but is enough for the Brothers to feel___ and claim___ that they are not alone.

Secondly, old habits die hard. Instead of learning from past mistakes, the non-Islamist, secular-leaning parties have continued with their failed pre-June 30 approach. They mainly focus on talk show discussions, instead of doing the tougher work of building support at a grassroots level. The elites still prefer their cities and beach resorts, and are not keen on taking tedious trips to southern Egypt or rural areas where the support for ex-president Morsi is still high. El Baradei’s Dostour party continues to struggle with divisions, a non-surprise after their leader left Egypt following his fallout with the army. There is no evidence that other parties, such as the Wafd or Tagammu, are gaining any additional popularity after July 3. The inability of the non-Islamist party to reform, and their failure to outreach to non-urban provinces will continue to hamper their ability to benefit from a Muslim Brotherhood defeat.

Third, the social void continues. Thus far, neither the interim government, nor non-Islamist political parties are willing to draft a plan to counter the Brotherhood’s social network, the core base of its political success. It is one thing to officially ban the Brotherhood’s charitable organization, it is another to provide the beneficiaries with a viable alternative. The lack of strong civil society that supports the poor and the needy will always allow the Brotherhood to maintain their links with their loyal grassroot supporters.

In fact, I am not aware of any non-Islamist public figure or politicians who have visited Dalga, Kerdassa, or other tense areas, even following the end of the security operations in these areas. The burned churches in the south are in desperate need of attention from those who rail day and night against sectarianism in the local media. Poor and impoverished villages around the country are crying for attention, yet no one from those who applauded the decision to close the Brotherhood’s NGO seem to be interested in finding ways to fill the void.

The rise of general Sissi’s popularity is partly due to his own appeal among the public who see him as someone with the leadership skills that are necessary to rule Egypt at this crucial time. It is also very indicative of the weakness and the fragility of non-Islamist groups and the parties that want to hide behind the strongman to conceal their own inability to capitalize from the Muslim Brotherhood’s downfall.

The weakness of the non-Islamists in Egypt is quiet spectacular, considering how their Islamists opponents insist on perpetuating their own self-defeating policies, continuous protests and disruption, and the absence of any articulation of a “clear-end-point.” In fact, they have even rejected mediation efforts by Professor Kamal Abu El Magd, whose suggestions could have provided a true reconciliation path.

Are Non-Islamists truly committed to fulfilling the aspirations of the millions who protested on June 30? If the answer is yes, then they must have a serious look at their dismal performance post-June 30, and understand that the army chief general Sissi will not save their political careers. They must stop their lazy approach to politics, put in sweat and labor at the grassroots level, fight against repression, injustice, radicalism, and rebuild a new, strong civil society, otherwise Egypt will remain subdued by regressive forces fighting over its ruin and wreckage.

Also published in the Daily News Egypt

About nervana111

Doctor, blogger and Commentator on Middle East issues. The only practising doctor who write in Middle Eastern politics in UK.
This entry was posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt, June30 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to General Sissi is no savior for Egypt’s non-Islamists

  1. Sunni Khalid says:

    Sadly, Nervana, class continues to be the prevalent division in Egyptian society.


  2. Amr says:

    Dear Nervana than you for post and good analysis,
    I agree with you that secular political class in Egypt is not very developed,as a matter of fact EGYPT doesn’t have real efficient political parties since 1952,under Nasser it was banned and eroded gradually,till Sadat who opened the door again,but in his days you still had veteran like Fouad Pasha Seregeldin and others,the Mubarak years saw an end to any serious political like,the NDP being similar to the Nasser’s socialist Union,with small cartons parties,and the brotherhood more tolerated than most people think,basically haven taken the social role that the State had started to abandon since Sadat,
    As we know the Brotherhood did many agreements with the Mubarak regime,and had at one point about 90 MP,still somebody need or explain me how Khairat El Shater became a millionaire while in prison?

    Anyway to go back to our political life,one of main reasons,apart from being the Nation savior.a great majority of Egyptian want el Sissi for president is precisely because they sense what I mention above,IE the very limited capacity of our current secular political class,with few exceptions,
    Maybe it would be the right thing that he becomes president,if during that time,political life can be gradually built,with new elites,younger generation
    It’s the very important point you mention,about who will replace the social works of MB? That is the responsibility of the State,as matter or fact that is its primal role,with giving security and enforcing the rule of law,
    I think or at least hope that is being done now
    I want to be optimistic,believe in future precisely with a new generation of leaders and better education for all,when one look at latest reports on Egypt school education level,that’s alarming!

    Finally I would vote for el Sissi as he the man of the time,but want Egypt to start rebuild its political class and look forward,I don’t know for sure if he able to put us on right track,but I don’t see anyone else at the moment


  3. Amr says:

    I want to add that General El Sissi is not an angel,no one is,and in Egypt we have the bad habit of deification of our leaders,which needs to be addressed if we want any real democracy here,
    The other possibility if to keep Pr Mansour, or new elected person similar,after all he doesn’t disturb anyone,very respectful gentleman as more an honor President and arbitrator between powers,with an executive PM coming from the elected majority leader or collation in parliament,but that takes to the first problem,no real strong political party in Egypt,,,


  4. beamout says:

    Useful idiots of June 30 are spineless sissies who worship Sissi. Under him, crimes against humanity against thousands were perpetrated.

    I am so glad that none of my relatives are in Egypt anymore. They left a couple of years ago. I could not believe their stories of years ago telling me how spineless and opportunistic Egyptians in general are. Indeed, June 30 proved they were right.

    And Nervana, fie on your idiotic sarcasm in your idiotic, hypocritical tweets! Sarcasm has rendered you woefully vapid.


  5. Amr says:

    Beamout,you forgot your terrorist Rabea yellow sign,it’s usually visible when insults are said
    Post again but show your true colours,yellow hand
    Nervana is a fair commentator,I disagree with her sometimes but in full respect and cordiality not like your kinds do,but assaulting thinkers as we’re seen overseas,probably your PR contracts expired otherwise they would have explained you that,but
    Now better that we see you in your true colours,yellow Irys


  6. beamout says:


    The fact is, all those who belittle crimes against humanity at Rabaa are supremacists at heart.

    June 30 has disgusted Egypt for me so much that now when I read or talk about Egypt it disgusts me so much. The fact is MB or no MB, Egyptians in general are spineless wusses, sissies to be precise.

    And just for the fact I am not MB, salafi or liberal. Those idiotic labels mean nothing to me.

    I do however, discern bullshit and hypocrisy when I see one.

    The fact that Nervana glosses over the crimes against humanity so easily, proves how sick and hypocritical her heart really is. She could be a superb annalist, yet she sold her heart for a handful of cynical sarcasm.

    But what the hack, enjoy for military rule. Egyptians (because the majority of them seem so spineless) deserve nothing better.


  7. Pingback: June30 | Nervana | Mark Geoffrey Kirshner

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