While he speaks in a very soft voice during political speeches, Al-Sisi does not hesitate to turn into a hardcore leader to stamp out any voices of dissent. His supporters – and there are many – claim that “brute force” is what Egypt needed to escape political and institutional disintegration after the chaotic post-revolution period. In his new term in office, people should expect “more of the same”, analysts say.
Egypt has embraced its fifth president since 1953. That is to say, the country of Pharaohs has seen only five leaders in 59 years: Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat, Hosni Mubarak, Mohamed Morsi and Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, without counting interim presidents and supreme council of the Armed Forces rule.
While growing voices in Egypt highlight the similarities between Mubarak’s and Al-Sisi’s style of rule, the later has recently reaffirmed his support for a two-term limit for the office of the president.
However, a “strange” petition demanding that Egypt’s current president remain in power for longer is circulating between Egyptian institutions and among pro-state figures. Will Al-Sisi seek an amendment to the constitution to allow longer terms and the removal of term limits? One would say that history eternally repeats itself.
Al-Sisi and foreign affairs
Here’s a brief summary of Al-Sisi’s diplomatic highlights since coming to power:
- “(He) is doing a fantastic job”, Donald Trump said when he welcomed president Al-Sisi to the White House in April 2017. The US Trump wants to reboot bilateral relationships with Egypt to move over the high tensions between Al-Sisi and the Obama administration;
- On the same month, Al-Sisi also received a solemn royal welcome in Saudi Arabia. Two months later, he ratified a controversial treaty to transfer two uninhabited Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. The president was accused of “selling territory” for aid;
- In summer 2017, Egypt joined the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt accused the small Gulf state of destabilising the region with is support for Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood which Al-Sisi has declared a terror organisation;
- In December 2017, Al-Sisi welcomed Vladimir Putin in Cairo to sign a contract for the building of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant.
Al-Sisi and human rights
“There are more restrictions on civil society now than there were under Mubarak”, says Samer Shehata, a professor of Middle Eastern politics at the University of Oklahoma.
Human Rights Watch is very regularly bashing the government in Egypt for prosecutions, travel bans and asset freezes against human rights activists. “President Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi should prioritise reforms to end serious human rights violations during his second term”, Human Rights Watch said in a press conference in Beirut.
To see more, discover our latest videos on the Egyptian economy :