Sisi stole another general's coup, and ultimately Egypt

Sisi stole another general's coup, and ultimately Egypt
3 min read
22 Apr, 2015
Comment: Mohamed Morsi was doomed almost from the minute he stepped into the presidential palace. Sisi was the man who ultimately prevailed, says Wael Kandil.
Shafik (above) was an early opponent of Morsi's rule [Getty]

The plan for a coup against former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi began when he replaced then head of the Egyptian military, Hussein Tantawi, with Abdel Fatah el-Sisi in August 2012.

Mohamed Morsi had hardly been president at the Ittihadiyah Palace for two months before members of the previous "deep state" moved to overthrow him.

The feudal class of the Mubarak regime could not stomach the fact that a man with peasant roots, a civilian not a military man, a man with a beard, was in the presidential palace. Messages indicating a desire to remove him appeared very quickly.

Whenever we asked Morsi a question about the future, he would lower his voice, indicating he sensed the palace walls had eyes and ears.

The day after Morsi entered the presidential palace, I visited as part of a national delegation that had verified the results of Morsi's election were fair and accurate.

The previous occupants had stripped everything - tea could not be served as the palace kitchen was empty.

Whenever any of us asked the president a question about the future, he would look at the ceiling and lower his voice, indicating that he sensed the palace walls had eyes and ears.

The driving force behind coup plans was Ahmad Shafik, a general and the losing candidate of those who survived the January revolution.

It was perhaps a fatal mistake for Morsi to believe it was only Shafik that presented a danger - there were more like him.

In November 2012, in an article entitled "Who is Egypt's president in 2013", I said: "We are currently experiencing a phase in which mines are being laid and the ground is being prepared for a large explosion... when the third anniversary of the 25 January revolution occurs, everything will have been destroyed.

The plan for the coup

I argued that, according to several accounts from outside Egypt, the revolution's opponents were massing and pumping vast amounts of money into a psychological war to spread fear and panic.

I subsequently learned the details of that plot were known to the president and his aides.

However, no one had imagined at the time that Sisi, the new defence minister, would pounce on Shafik's coup plan and take it over.

This was facilitated by formation of the Salvation Front, led by the three former presidential candidates - Hamdeen Sabahi, Amr Moussa and Mohamad ElBaradei - who were frustrated Morsi had snatched the post from them.

This also offers a likely explanation for the collapse of the sudden amiability that sprung up between Shafik, hiding in the UAE, and the salvation front's main personalities, particularly ElBaradei.

No one imagined Sisi, the new defence minister, would pounce on Ahmad Shafik's coup plan and take it over.

The Salvation Front had tested its ability to mobilise dozens of times between November 2012 and February 2013, both with and without coordination with Shafik.

It had become clear both to the front and to everyone that even if it continued to try for 100 years, it would not succeed.

The main personalities of the Salvation Front concluded that betting on Shafik - who boasted that his counter-revolution was backed by 12 million citizens - was a losing wager.

Hijacking the counter-revolution

It was at that point Sisi decided to hijack the counter-revolution and initiate a coup against the president, who chose him as a defence minister because of his apparent loyalty and piety.

Sisi's first move was to invite the main personalities of the Salvation Front to talks to undermine the those under way at the presidential headquarters.

As those major revolutionary personalities rushed to accept his invitation, Sisi realised the atmosphere was perfect for him to ride the movement. And so the coup took shape.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.