Cairo in denial

Cairo in denial
3 min read
28 Oct, 2015
Comment: When it comes to understanding why voters failed to support the regime's rubber-stamp parliamentary elections, Egypt's generals just don't get it, writes Khalil al-Anani.
26 million Egyptians staged a protest, but the generals remain oblivious, writes al-Anani [AFP]

It is unlikely that the Egyptian regime will understand the message sent by would-be voters who did not take part in the first round of parliamentary elections held last Sunday and Monday.

It is also unlikely that the regime will care much for the apathy of 26 million Egyptians towards the elections, who decided to protest in their own special way. Just 26 percent of eligible voters turned out at the polls.

Authoritarian regimes are afflicted with terminal denial, whereby they not only refuse to acknowledge the negative realities on the ground but also attempt to beautify these realities to save face.

     Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will not care about what happened last week and will probably think the voter boycott was a sign of people's confidence


Take Bashar al-Assad for example, who made a quick visit to Moscow last week as if he had not come from a country destroyed by barrel bombs, but a calm and stable home.

The same used to be the case during the final decade of Hosni Mubarak's rule in Egypt. Mubarak believed that he was in control, before an uprising erupted overnight to throw him out of the presidential palace.

The regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will not care about what happened last week and will probably think the voter boycott was a sign of people's confidence in "the general" and that the country does not need a parliament anyway.

Sisi will not learn from Mubarak's mistakes. His regime held their final elections in 2010, which played a contributing role in the eruption of the 25 January revolution - due to the flagrant fraud of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDC).

Sisi mistakenly thinks that having elections that do not result in a parliament and ballot boxes with no votes could work in his interest, because his regime could claim to have held elections in front of the international community.

I remember in 2010, when parliamentary candidates who had lost created their own alternative parliament. Mubarak responded: "Let them have their fun."

It seems that the current regime is observing the voter boycott in a similar manner - without paying much attention to society's objection, anger and despair that the boycott represents.

The Sisi regime is in severe denial, despite all the signs that clearly demonstrate the crises - political, economic and social - staring the generals in the face.

Economic indicators released in the past few days show the regime is on the verge of bankruptcy, which does not necessarily mean that it faces collapse, but means public resentment against the regime will only grow as it continues to fail to meet their essential needs.

     Cairo's finances have been hit so hard that it has introduced taxes on everything it can tax


The country's foreign currency reserves are being quickly depleted and the Egyptian pound is losing value. To make matters worse, foreign financial assistance - especially from the regime's regional allies - is being reduced.

Cairo's finances have been hit so hard that it has introduced taxes on everything it can tax in order to cover the budget deficit.

The Egyptian regime mistakenly believes the silence of the population is a sign of surrender and acceptance and that its repressive tactics have paid off.

The regime fails to realise that repression will never result in true security and that its actions are simply paving the way for another popular explosion - the like of which neither the General nor his apparatus of repression will be able to contain.

Dr Khalil al-Anani is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute. He is a leading academic expert on Islamist movements, authoritarianism and democratisation in the Middle East.

Follow him on Twitter: @khalilalanani

Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

This is a translation from our Arabic edition.