Sisi's political bankruptcy has polarised Egypt

Sisi's political bankruptcy has polarised Egypt
4 min read
04 Feb, 2015
Comment: President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's campaign against his political opponents has divided Egypt, and is inciting attacks in the Sinai.
Sisi should confront terrorism in Cairo, not the Sinai [AFP]
After a recent attack Sinai left 30 people dead, the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, addressed his people: "You chose me, so if you continue the journey with me, I will not die alone."

The general seemed sullen, shaken and lacking confidence.

He spoke with clear anger. He decided, as usual, to blame his arch-enemy, the Muslim Brotherhood. Sisi has not dared to dismiss anyone for negligence. Instead he promoted a brigadier-general to fight what he calls terrorism in Sinai.

Since Sisi asked for a popular mandate to fight "potential terrorism" three weeks after the 3 July 2013 coup, a parallel political and media campaign of terrorism was launched that could be summarised as "you are either with us or against us". Anyone who opposed Sisi became an enemy. 
     Egypt has been divided into two parties, two populations, two societies and two different worlds.

After every attack, instead of being held accountable for further polarisation of Egyptian society, the operators of this campaign are rewarded, brought closer to the authorities and promoted in their jobs.

Sisi does not realise that "terrorism" started a year and a half ago, when television studios began inciting murder and bloodshed.

These studios hosted shameless journalists who churned out lies and fabrications, analysts who promoted myths, and regime loyalists who levelled all manner of accusations against certain segments of Egyptian society. Therefore, Egypt now reaps what was sown in that sensationalist campaign, with normal Egyptians paying the price.

If Sisi was serious about fighting terrorism and stopping the cycle of violence, which I doubt, he would stop the public media campaigns inciting the killing of citizens. If he was honest, which I also doubt, he would start by confronting terrorism in east Cairo, not east of the Suez Canal. Sisi has to hold his loyal journalists and supporters accountable for the state we have reached because their hate campaigns have taken Egypt to the edge of civil war.

Sisi is politically bankrupt and no longer has any cards to prove his competence and ability to run the country. He has not achieved a thing since coming to power.

In fact, Sisi's rise did more than fan the flames of division and tensions in the country - after he gave his media supporters a blank cheque to continue their attacks against anyone opposing them.

Police brutality has increased and many people have been killed. It is as if the police is a militia and not a state institution that can be held accountable for its actions.
     What is currently taking place in the Sinai is not simply religious or ideological terrorism.

What is currently taking place in the Sinai is not simply religious or ideological terrorism, but revenge operations against the state and its repressive and brutal security apparatuses, because of the crimes they have committed against the people of the Sinai.

What do you expect from people who have been forcibly removed from their houses, lands and farms? What do you expect from entire tribes that have no citizenship rights? What did you think would be the result of the public vilification and incitement campaigns against the people of Sinai?

This is undoubtedly not intended to justify terrorism or those who commit terror acts, as they are clearly criminals. It is merely an attempt to understand the context of the current situation, and to identify the facts.

Sisi and his minister of interior have clearly not learned from the mistakes of the former president, Hosni Mubarak, or his former interior minister, Habib al-Adly, who dealt with Sinai as a source of tension and instability, and implemented repressive security measures. Now Sisi is using the same logic, and sees Sinai as nothing more than a desert - a piece of land, and not the home of humans, families, and tribes, and a part of Egypt's history.

Conditions will deteriorate for as long as Sisi remains in power, not just because he is weak and unable to manage the current tension and polarisation or stop the campaign of incitement and hate, but also because he is the main cause of the political crisis Egypt has suffered since since the July 2013 military coup.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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