The quest to defeat Erdogan

For the past three years, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken his nation on a seemingly endless political roller-coaster ride. Under the auspices of his government, the country has seen two parliamentary elections and a controversial referendum that vested wider powers in Turkey’s presidency. Meanwhile, the purges he commenced after a failed coup attempt in 2016 are still roiling the country.

The next big event comes June 24, when Turks will vote for their next president and parliament. For Erdogan and his opponents, the stakes are as high as ever. If he wins, Erdogan will assume the Turkish presidency’s expanded executive powers, granted by the bitterly fought referendum in 2017.

After a decade and a half in power, Erdogan has become the most consequential Turkish politician since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. But his critics fear the death of Turkey’s enfeebled democracy and the strengthening of an overt authoritarian. A growing body of analysts cast Turkey under Erdogan as a prime example of how democracies can backslide and how ostensibly liberal politics can give way to toxic majoritarianism.

Erdogan is a canny political operator, and he has preserved his rule by mobilizing a divisive yet effective brand of religious nationalism. He has trained his ire on a vast web of supposed enemies abroad, from obstreperous Western governments to a Kurdish separatist terrorist group to a geriatric cleric living in exile in Pennsylvania. But although he once could campaign on a track record of economic prosperity and development, the Turkish economy is teetering dramatically.

Erdogan 3

“Years of irresponsible policies have overheated the Turkish economy. High inflation rates and current account deficits are going to prove sticky,” Atilla Yesilada, an analyst with ­Istanbul-based Global Source Partners, said to The Washington Post. “I think we are at the end of our rope.”

“Opposition leaders have also cited encouraging poll numbers that they say reflect voter fatigue with the president after a tumultuous few years in Turkey marked by growing tensions with some of the country’s NATO allies and intensifying social polarization at home,” wrote The Post’s Istanbul bureau chief, Kareem Fahim. “The results suggest a possible opposition victory — if not in the presidential race, then in the parliament, where they hope to roll back the majority held by Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or AKP.”

Erdogan’s challengers are stronger this year, thanks both to the political winds and the emergence of an opposition alliance that includes not only leftists, religious minorities and secularists but also right-wing nationalists and pious Muslims.

Erdogan’s main opponent in the presidential race is Muharrem Ince of the Republican People’s Party, a centrist party once associated with decades of stifling secularism as well as the repression of ethnic minorities carried out by the Turkish state. Ince, a former schoolteacher, has worked assiduously to dispel this image and champion a more inclusive future.

Turkish presidential candidate Muharrem Ince spoke to a crowd of enthusiastic supporters from atop a bus at a rally in Kadikoy, near Istanbul, on June 8.

The challengers say that Erdogan is hobbling the country by sparring with the European Union and NATO, and making moves that tanked the Turkish currency. “The policies that Erdogan or his government are following do not help Turkey stand up on her own feet in almost all aspects and policies, whether economic or foreign policies,” Islamist presidential candidate Temel Karamollaoglu said to the Guardian. “His method of approach, the discourse, causes polarization in Turkey.”

But there are limits to the time-for-change argument. “The opposition’s main message is, enough is enough. You have been in power too long, you represent the past,” Omer Taspinar of the Brookings Institute said to Fahim. “Maybe that would work if he was 80 years old. Erdogan is still a force to reckon with, despite his vulnerabilities. He has done well for the middle class.”

As in elections in 2015, all eyes are on the Kurdish vote. Kurds represent about 20 percent of the country’s population; Erdogan, who moved to liberalize restrictions on Kurdish cultural rights, once drew tremendous backing from religiously-minded Kurdish voters. But the resumption of conflict with Kurdish militant groups in Turkey, Syria and Iraq has weakened that support, as has his government’s persecution of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, a left-wing, pro-Kurdish party that Ankara accuses of collusion with outlawed Kurdish militants.

If the HDP can win more than 10 percent of the national vote required to gain seats in Turkey’s parliament — as it did in June 2015 — Erdogan’s AKP will struggle to win a majority. The HDP’s charismatic leader, Selahattin Demirtas, has been thrown in jail on terrorism-related charges he and his supporters flatly reject. He is running for president behind bars.

“The Kurds are a reality, and in every country in the Middle East, in Iraq, Turkey, Syria, they are on the front lines for the struggle of democracy,” Demirtas told me in an interview in 2016, before he was sent to prison. “There’s a fundamental ideological conflict between the Kurds and Erdogan, who has a Turkish Islamist ideology.”

Egypt’s Sham Election

By Andrew Miller and Amy Hawthorne

Egypt’s presidential election on March 26-28 effectively is a theatrical performance, staged by the regime to contrive a popular mandate for strongman President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s second term. Sisi, who as defense minister led the 2013 coup against the Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, has forced out every credible electoral contender—including two prominent challengers from the military establishment, Ahmed Shafiq and Sami Anan—using threats and even imprisonment. Moussa Mustafa Moussa, who entered the race at the last moment to play Sisi’s token opponent, is an obscure politician and an avowed supporter of the president who is thought to have long-standing ties to the Egyptian security services.

What is more, the vote is being held against the backdrop of a vast crackdown under Sisi. Tens of thousands of people are in prison on politicized or fabricated charges. Civil society organizations are hounded by the police, and the regime has been buying up privately held media organizations and punishing those outlets that dare to diverge from the state’s Orwellian narrative. With the security services unleashed, the incidence of torture has increased dramatically and, in a frightening tactic new to Egypt, hundreds have “disappeared” from the streets or their homes. A state of emergency has further eroded Egyptians’ meager rights. Any balloting held under such brutally repressive circumstances reveals very little about Sisi’s standing with the Egyptian public.

THE MILITARY AS KINGMAKER

Nevertheless, the way in which Sisi has managed the election, ratcheting up repression and angrily and ruthlessly quashing military-linked candidates, demonstrates that his hold on power depends in large part on the military’s loyalty, or at least its acquiescence. The fact that challengers even emerged from the military establishment in the first place suggests that such support has declined, a trend that has rattled Sisi.

The armed forces remain Egypt’s most powerful institution, and Sisi became president in 2014 with their strong backing. But he must be acutely aware that the military could turn against him. After all, the military removed Sisi’s immediate predecessors, Morsi and Hosni Mubarak, once it came to see them as a liability to its own interests.

In some ways, Sisi may be even more dependent on the armed forces than Mubarak was, as he came to power through a military coup and has not built up alternative bases of support outside the institution. By contrast, while Mubarak also came from the military, as president, he spent years cultivating constituencies in the business community and the state bureaucracy, especially the security agencies. (There are signs that some within state institutions harbor misgivings about Sisi, who has strong-armed the security services, shown frustration with Egypt’s bloated but influential civil service, and curtailed the judiciary’s independence.) Mubarak took the additional step of mobilizing these interest groups and spreading patronage through the establishment of a loyal ruling party. Sisi, who disdains civilian politics, has declined to create such a party, and by increasing the role of the military in the economy, has crowded out opportunities for important private-sector players. Arguably, he has also alienated other potential constituencies through his unbridled repression.

Sisi’s political survival will depend primarily on whether he can keep the perceived costs of his removal higher than the costs of his remaining in power.

Although it is notoriously difficult to get a clear picture of politics inside the Egyptian military and regime, there have been episodic, if somewhat cryptic, signs from the military of discontent with Sisi, and even of potential dissent. Rumors of dismissals and purges within the officer corps have circulated periodically during Sisi’s rule. In 2015, 26 serving and retired military officers reportedly were convicted of conspiring to overthrow the regime. Sisi’s controversial 2016 decision to hand over two Egyptian Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, his regime’s main patron, was privately opposed by top military figures, including Defense Minister Sedki Sobhy and Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazy, and was widely unpopular among Egypt’s political class.

More recently, in October 2017, Sisi abruptly fired Hegazy (whose daughter is married to one of Sisi’s sons), and put him under house arrest, reportedly because Hegazy had pushed back against some of Sisi’s policies. In the last several months, pro-Sisi figures have floated the idea of amending the constitution to remove presidential term limits. In addition, some reports have hinted that Sisi also may change the constitution to allow him to remove the defense minister, who is currently appointed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). This implies that Sisi does not fully trust Sobhy and that he cannot count on the SCAF to fire him.

That two high-profile challengers with military backgrounds tried to step forward for the 2018 presidential election, however, provides perhaps the clearest sign of disaffection in parts of the military. Former prime minister and air force commander Shafiq, who narrowly lost Egypt’s 2012 election and remains popular with some Egyptians, announced in November that he intended to challenge Sisi. In January, Anan, who was chief of staff from 2005-2012 (and Sisi’s army superior), declared that he planned to run.

It is highly unlikely that Shafiq and Anan would have taken the risk to step forward unless they were confident of at least some support in the military. Lest there be any doubt that their candidacies were aimed at repudiating Sisi’s leadership, both men criticized Sisi, directly or indirectly, for his dictatorial tendencies and economic failures. Anan even expressed cautious disapproval of Sisi’s handling of the Red Sea islands transfer and other sensitive national security issues.

Sisi has reacted to these developments with a combination of fury and panic. To force Shafiq to drop his bid, Sisi had him detained for weeks and put him and his family under intense pressure. Anan was placed in military detention immediately after refusing to end his campaign, and his running-mate was attacked by unidentified “thugs” and then imprisoned. In an unusual speech on January 31, Sisi lashed out against “anyone trying to undermine Egypt’s security” and, staring menacingly at the defense minister, declared that an uprising like in 2011 would never be repeated. Following Anan’s arrest, there have been unconfirmed reports of more military reshuffles and purges.

It is hard to know if these embryonic signs of dissent will grow into more significant military opposition to Sisi, much less support for his eventual removal. The Egyptian military is generally a risk-averse institution, and would be especially reluctant to act against one of its own. As we saw in 2011, the military did not remove Mubarak until it concluded, after 18 days of mass grassroots protests, that it had no other option. And so far, Sisi has been able to snuff out any burgeoning discontent within the military.

Yet, as the 2011 uprising also demonstrated, there are conditions under which the Egyptian military is prepared to force a change. The armed forces fear instability above all else, and the possibility of chaos, in the form of sustained large protests or general disorder, can cause it to act. The military’s posture towards Sisi likely will be driven by its assessment of what is riskier: keeping the president in power or removing him. Moving forward, this suggests that Sisi’s political survival will depend primarily on whether he can keep the perceived costs of his removal—such as the unavailability of acceptable alternative leaders and political uncertainty—higher than the costs of his remaining in power, such as the reputational damage that the military could suffer from continuing to support a president who has manifestly lost public support.

Egyptian Army soldiers are seen in the troubled northern part of the Sinai peninsula during a launch of a major assault against militants in Al Arish, Egypt.

SISI’S TWO MAIN CHALLENGES

Whether the military leadership will eventually move against Sisi may hinge on how it views his management of two main challenges: the economy and security. Should either issue threaten to strain military cohesion—the armed forces’ unity of purpose and respect for the authority of the leadership—senior leaders may be even more inclined to take the drastic step of forcing Sisi out. Sisi must prevent further deterioration in the public’s living standards, which, when combined with popular mobilization around other grievances, has the potential to trigger public unrest that could elicit a response from the military. Most of Egypt’s nearly 100 million people, many of whom have long struggled with poverty, are enduring even greater hardship under Sisi. Egypt’s security establishment has long feared a “revolution of the hungry” in which the economically dispossessed would spontaneously rise up against the political system.

Foreshadowing this possibility, economic grievances were central to the 2011 revolt against Mubarak and shortages in key commodities during the Morsi presidency were exploited by opponents of the Islamist president to build popular support for the July 2013 coup. Should declining living conditions yield full-blown protests or civil disturbances, the military could face incentives to remove Sisi, who would likely bear the brunt of the blame from the public. His ouster could ameliorate popular grievances and distance the military, as an institution, from his policies. Sisi, apparently aware of such risks, has implemented a series of difficult economic reforms, including cutting subsidies and devaluing the Egyptian pound, to improve Egypt’s vulnerable macroeconomic position. These measures have had the immediate effect of harming living conditions for the Egyptian people, most obviously in the form of runaway inflation that topped out last year at 34.2 percent, but many Egyptians seem to have accepted Sisi’s argument that short-term austerity measures are necessary for long-term prosperity.

Popular patience is unlikely to be infinite, however, especially if conditions worsen, and it remains to be seen whether Sisi can translate monetary and fiscal-stabilization steps into better living conditions for the Egyptian people. If past is prologue, the prospects may not be promising. While prior episodes of economic reform in Egypt did help to generate higher aggregate growth, most recently in the 2000s, the benefits of increased economic activity were not widely shared, as reflected in stubbornly high unemployment rates, expanding poverty, and higher wealth inequality. It should be a cautionary tale for Sisi that popular frustration with an earlier period of economic reform and vast corruption among the ruling class formed the background for the 2011 revolt.

Alongside the need for revitalizing the economy, Sisi must avert a substantial decline in security conditions in the Egyptian heartland. Providing security is central to the military’s image as the defender of the Egyptian nation, and an abject failure to fulfill this duty could provoke public disenchantment with the regime or even seed doubts in the military about Sisi’s ability to cope with the country’s top threats, such as violence from jihadist groups. Although a significant worsening of the security environment is less likely to provoke popular demonstrations than a continuing decline in living conditions, if the military leadership holds Sisi responsible for such a deterioration, they could feel compelled to act.

Concern about the counterterrorism performance of the Egyptian military is not merely theoretical. It appears that the armed forces are failing in the main combat theater of the Sinai Peninsula, though the regime’s control over media reporting has obscured the full extent of its struggles. The security situation in remote Sinai does not affect most Egyptians, however, and the military seems prepared to accept a steady stream of casualties amongst rank-and-file soldiers, who have been sent there to battle the Islamic State’s (ISIS’s) local affiliate.

By contrast, a scenario in which jihadist groups make major inroads in the population centers of the Nile Valley, resulting in the state’s loss of effective control over territory or the collapse of law and order, would present a serious challenge to Sisi’s standing, publicly and within the regime. Unlike in the Sinai, military and security agencies have been more successful in disrupting threats in and around the Nile Valley. And groups like ISIS will probably find it harder to embed in Egypt’s major population centers, where there is a stronger sense of nationalism. But, as a series of lethal, high-profile attacks in the past 16 months demonstrates, the intensification of terrorism in the heartland remains a distinct possibility.

Sisi’s growing authoritarianism, while on its own is unlikely to disquiet the autocratic military, could exacerbate these economic and security challenges. Egyptians will probably be less willing to tolerate the deprivation of their political and civil rights if their security and economic expectations are not met. To the extent that political repression, when coupled with insecurity and economic hardship, begins to provoke a popular backlash against the regime, the military may have cause for concern. And separate from how poorly his regime treats ordinary citizens, Sisi’s moves to consolidate power within the state could antagonize some in the military.

Only time will tell whether Sisi’s response to recent challenges is just another step towards regime consolidation or the beginning of the end.

COMING TESTS OF SISI’S POWER 

As other analysts have noted, after his reelection, Sisi is expected to seek to amend the constitution, and we agree that the military’s debate over such a move would provide a more meaningful indicator of support for Sisi than does the election itself. But even if Sisi is successful in expanding his powers, it will not mean that his position is then secure. The coming struggle over constitutional amendments is likely to be an important, though not final, obstacle to his consolidation of power.

This is partly because another test is in the offing—one even more consequential because it directly affects security and economic interests: responding to the new Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). It seems likely that Ethiopia will begin filling the dam as early as this summer, a process that could reduce Nile water flow and result in a cut to Egypt’s already scarce water supply by as much as 25 percent. This could have huge implications for the living conditions of millions of Egyptians, who already have one of the lowest per-capita water shares in the world, and for Egypt’s economy. Owing to Ethiopia’s apparent reluctance to address Egypt’s legitimate concerns, there are few options available to Sisi to mitigate the threat posed by the GERD. He could initiate covert or overt military action against the dam. But, due to the Egyptian military’s limited expeditionary capacity, the prospects of using force to stop or even delay the dam filling are slim, and a high-profile, failed military attack on Ethiopia would undermine Sisi’s security credentials and damage the military’s prestige.

The preceding analysis strongly suggests that Sisi’s hold on power is far from secure, but it does not necessarily indicate that the demise of his regime is imminent or even inevitable. All prior Egyptian presidents who hailed from the military—Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar el-Sadat, and Mubarak—faced major challenges in consolidating their regimes, which required years to fully resolve. If, in hindsight, these iconic figures’ eventual domination of the Egyptian political scene now seems inexorable, their triumph appeared anything but assured to their contemporaries. For instance, that Mubarak, upon succeeding Sadat in 1981, was viewed in certain circles as a placeholder president is now a distant memory.

To be sure, Sisi enjoys certain advantages in his effort to eliminate threats to his rule: the power of incumbency, his support among some Egyptians (though apparently weaker than when he took power), and the military’s conservatism. Yet, his failure so far to cultivate and organize alternative bases of support outside the military, in contrast to his military predecessors, and his reliance on repression, like his predecessors, may not only leave him more dependent on continued military support, but may also exacerbate the very pressures that could lead the military to act. Ultimately, only time will tell whether Sisi’s response to recent challenges is just another step towards regime consolidation or the beginning of the end.

Source: Foreign Affairs

 

EGYPTIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SHOWS SISI IS EVEN LESS DEMOCRATIC THAN MUBARAK

The puzzling thing is why the regime did not want to put on even a show of a contest, to say nothing of a real competition that could have enhanced Sisi’s legitimacy.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s regime has been making one thing clear about the presidential election coming up in March: It won’t be a time for democracy.

Authorities arrested the leading challenger to Sisi, former army chief of staff Sami Anan, days after he announced on Facebook his bid for top office. The official reason was that Anan had not acquired a permit from the army to run and had allegedly forged his end-of-military-service documents.

In fact, the respected former general’s real transgression may have been constituting a credible voice of criticism to Sisi’s authoritarian rule. In the video announcing his candidacy, Anan spoke of Egypt being in decline as a result of “faulty strategy,” in which the army was overburdened and the state’s civil sectors were hindered.

Anan was the fourth potential candidate against Sisi to be prosecuted or detained, while other candidates chose to withdraw in the face of what they said were threats. A day after Anan’s arrest, human rights lawyer Khaled Ali dropped his bid followed by Hossam ElShazly, the Secretary-General of the Egyptian Change Council and an advocate of the liberal movement in Egypt.

With the exception of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi’s 2012 victory, Egypt has never had a fair presidential election.

The March election, coming four years after Sisi won 97% of the votes in his first run for office, now looks likely to be a referendum. The puzzling thing is why the regime did not want to put on even a show of a contest, to say nothing of a real competition that could have enhanced Sisi’s legitimacy. It “seems they don’t even care how it looks anymore,” Mohammed Anwar Sadat, nephew of the late president and a candidate who pulled out over concerns for the safety of his staff, told the Daily Telegraph.

A busy street near a poster of Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for the upcoming presidential election in Cairo, Egypt, January 22, 2018 (Reuters)A busy street near a poster of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for the upcoming presidential election in Cairo, Egypt, January 22, 2018 (Reuters)

Appearances aside, the inescapable conclusion is that the regime believes that it is sufficient to rely on fear to rule. Seven years after the ouster of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, tolerance for dissent is even less than it was under his regime.

The fear factor stems not only from draconian steps the authorities take against opponents, but also from the regime projecting the image that Egypt is under mortal threat from terrorists, making it is necessary to rally behind Sisi to survive. “The mindset of the deep state, the intelligence, the police, the army reflect their premise that Egypt is under existential threat and this is an emergency time; that it is not right to use regular measures; that emergency acts are needed,” said Yoram Meital, an Egypt specialist at Ben-Gurion University. In the view the regime projects, there is no difference between the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic State insurgents.

“Most of us believed Sisi would win the election and that there is no need for dramatic measures. But the regime wanted to send a message: that this is not the time for democratic struggle, that they expect Egyptians to rally behind Sisi,” Meital said.

Although the State Department criticized Anan’s arrest, it came just two days after US Vice President Mike Pence met with Sisi. Pence made no public comments about the egregious human rights situation in Egypt, and it is doubtful he mentioned it in private.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi meets with with US Vice President Mike Pence at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt January 20, 2018 (REUTERS/KHALED DESOUKI/POOL)Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi meets with with US Vice President Mike Pence at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt January 20, 2018 (REUTERS/KHALED DESOUKI/POOL)

A Western observer in Cairo said that Sisi believes he has a free hand from the Trump administration for abuses against human rights and democracy, and that he also feels a degree of cover from the EU because the Egyptian Navy is interdicting refugees and migrants en route to Europe.

The observer noted that parliament recently extended Egypt’s state of emergency. “Many people really believe a strong leader and state are the only thing between them and chaos.” For the regime, “it is all right to hold an election during the state of emergency, because you are supposed to have an election, but they feel it should be clear that ‘we have one leader and that’s Sisi and that’s the way it will be.’’ In the view of Ofir Winter, an Egypt specialist at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, the handling of the presidential race shows Egypt is moving backward. “They are going back to the authoritarian pattern. There were hopes of more democracy after the Arab Spring. But the elections prove we are very far from this goal and are becoming more distant. The situation in some way is worse than under Mubarak. The fear of every expression that deviates from the main line is much greater today.”

Source: The Jerusalem Post, ME Politics, 

 

 

Life is hard in Sisi’s Egypt, but voters have little choice

A 50-foot campaign poster of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi stares down over Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where hundreds of thousands of Egyptians demanded bread, freedom and social justice during the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. Across from the square, a huge screen shows a video montage of the President and his supporters.

In Cairo, it’s impossible to miss that Egypt is having a presidential election from Monday. Sisi’s face is plastered on nearly every street along with slogans such as, “Yes, to building the future,” and “You are the hope.”
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What is difficult to find are the more subdued posters of Sisi’s little-known and only remaining rival, Mousa Mostafa Mousa.
The lack of serious competition has drawn the fierce condemnation of critics who say Sisi has stifled dissent, but the President says he is not to blame.
“It is not my fault. I swear to God, I wished there would have been more candidates for people to choose who they want. But they were not ready yet, there is no shame in this,” Sisi said in a recent TV interview.
“We have more than 100 parties. Have they fielded many (candidates), or any?”
In fact, multiple candidates tried to enter the race, but all but one has since exited. The opposition blames Sisi’s government for squeezing potential rivals through what they see as a strategy of intimidation.
Egyptian authorities arrested former army Gen. Sami Anan in January, saying his candidacy broke military rules.
Former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik announced his candidacy in self-imposed exile from the United Arab Emirates but withdrew upon his return to Cairo and human rights lawyer Khaled Ali said he withdrew his name after coming under pressure and facing obstacles getting on the ballot.
Mohamed Anwar Sadat, the nephew of late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, pulled out after facing what he called obstruction and fear for the safety of his campaign workers.
“I was scared that all my campaign representatives might be in a situation where they face a difficult time or are stopped, detained, and abused,”. Hossam ElShazly, the Secretary-General of the Egyptian Change Council, an advocate of the liberal democratic vision, and the Political and Economic Advisor withdrew on 28 January 2018 after the arrest of another candidate; Sami Anan, and as a direct result of the suppressive environment generated by the military ruling regime in Egypt. ElShazly supporters faced difficulties in registering pledges for him as Sisi has exerted pressure on former presidential candidates so that they would not run against him.
In February, Human Rights Watch expressed concern that the Egyptian government had compromised the election process with its use of special laws under an ongoing nationwide state of emergency.

‘Not a puppet’

But there is one candidate who has managed to remain on the ballot.
Mousa registered an hour before the final deadline in late January. His last-minute candidacy, by his own admission, is aimed at avoiding a one-horse race that treats the vote like a referendum on Sisi’s rule.
I saw the catastrophe coming,”. He said his participation makes the vote a democratic one. “President Sisi was going alone in this game, and if he falls, we all fall.”
Detractors have accused Mousa of being a stooge candidate, sanctioned by the regime to give the election a veneer of legitimacy.
Mousa admits he was a Sisi supporter before running, but he insists his campaign, run on a platform of job creation, is genuine and that he would make a better president.
“I want to tell the people I’m here for real. I’m here as a candidate willing and wishing and wanting to win,” Mousa said.
“People need to understand that I was not brought in as a puppet for anyone.”
Sources : CNN News ,  ME Politics Article. 

البيئة السياسية المصرية ومفهوم التحول الديمقراطي

بقلم الدكتور حسام الشاذلي، المستشار السياسي والإقتصادي الدولي و السكرتير العام للمجلس المصري للتغيير ، 

 التعريف والمفهوم 

لا شك أن التاريخ والواقع قد أثبت بما لا يدع مجالا للشك بأن البيئة السياسية المصرية هي بيئة فريدة عجيبة ، فوضوية وبرية، مزيفة في غالبها وغير حقيقية ، تحمل من العجب والقصص مالا يخطر علي قلب بشر وما قد ينطق عنه الحجر ،

وبادئ ذي بدأ إذ بدأ ، وحتي لا يختلط المبتدأ بالخبر ولا نضل الطريق في السفر ، نعرف أو نتعرف علي ماهية البيئة السياسية وهويتها ، ومفهومها ومعيتها، تعرف البيئة الحياتية السياسية  للدول والمجتمعات ،  والشركات والمنظومات كونها أسلوب حياة يتمثل في عقد ذهني جمعي ،  غير مكتوب ولا بالحبر مخطوط ، يحدد المقبول والمرفوض ويوصف التقاليد والعهود، يطرح أساليب حل المشكلات وكيف تواجه الكوارث والعقبات ، يؤصل لتفنيد السياسات وكيفية إدارة الدواوين والحكومات ، يشرح كيف يختار الناس في الإنتخابات وكيف ترسم السياسات مع الدول ذات العلاقات ،

هو عقد ذهني نفسي ، صيغ وكتب ووقع ووثق بالسنين والعقود بين جموع الناس وعامتهم وساداتهم وساستهم، تعلمه الجميع داخل المجتمع والمنظومه وتوارثته الأجيال منتصرة أو مظلومه ، فصار واقعا وحقيقه ، ومنهاجا للحياة وطريقه ، جزءا من حياة الناس وعلمهم ،  وعقدا لتعاملاتهم ووعيهم وجل إدراكهم ، بل بات كتابا لحسابهم قبل يوم حسابهم وميزانا لجنتهم ونارهم ،

وهنا يكمن السر وأصل الحكاية ، لب التعريف وخلاصة الموضوع وسر الحياة والكلام الغير مسموع ، فعلي مر السنين والأعوام تشكل البيئة الحياتية وعي الناس وإدراكهم وتحدد هويتهم ومصيرهم ، فتصبح قانونا لحياتهم وواقعا يعيشونه قبل مماتهم ، توثقه محكمة الدنيا جيل بعد جيل ، ويحمله الأبناء عن الآباء لمسافة العمر وسرعة الضوء ميل بعد ميل ،

الإنتقاء والإرتقاء الطبيعي

من المعلوم بالضرورة ومن الموروث علي الأرض المعمورة ، أن تشكيل البيئة الحياتية والسياسية للمجتمعات مرتبط بالوعي الإدراكي للبشر والعامه ، وبالتقدم العلمي والمحتوي التعليمي للأمة والفرد والمجموعة ، فإذا ما ترك الأمر لطبيعته ولقدرة الخالق في خلقته ، فإن الإنتقاء الطبيعي المتوازن يأخذ المجتمع لخيره وخيراته ويخلصه من أشراره وويلاته ، فتشهد الأمم تتحرر وتتقدم وتري الخير يعم ويتأصل ، حتي أذا بعد الناس أو قربوا من دينهم ، فهذه فطرة حياتهم وسنة الله في أيامهم وأقدارهم ،

ومع التطور الطبيعي والإنتقاء الحياتي تنضج البيئة السياسية والحياتية للمجتمع ، فيقوم بإنتقاء الأقدر والأصلح من بين أفراده ومن عامة مواطنيه ومجموعاته ، من أجل رخاء الحياة وإصلاح المعيشة وتحقيق الأفضل للجميع ، ومع تطور الوعي للأفراد والمجتمع ، تتشكل بيئة سياسية متقدمة تحمي حق المجتمع في حياة أفضل وتؤصل لنظام يفرض الأقدر ويطيح بالأخطر ،

وهنا يتحدث التاريخ فلا يسكت ويصرخ الماضي فلا يصمت ، يحكي عن دول وقارات وأمم وحضارات ، دمرتها الحروب وأكلتها الكوارث والمجاعات ، فباتت اليوم نموذجا للحرية والرخاء والتقدم والحياة بلا عناء ، اليابان والصين وأوروبا والولايات المتحدة ومن قبلها أمة الإسلام بمسافات ، كلها أمثلة ونماذج لقدرة الخالق في تطور البشرية والمجتمعات ، وإثباتا وثبوتا لنظريات الإرتقاء الطبيعي والإنتقاء للبيئات ،

تزييف البيئة والتلاعب بالمقدرات 

إن المأساة الحقيقية للبشر والمجتمعات والكارثة الغير طبيعية التي تتعدي حدود الزمان والمكان ، تكمن في تلك الدول والبيئات السياسية والحياتية التي لم تترك لكي تنشئ وترتقي وتتطور طبيعيا علي فطرة خالقها وبقانون وعيها وتعليمها وخبرتها ، ولكن تأبي أياد خبيثة مجرمة إلا أن تتدخل في القدر وتصنع الخطر ، فتزيف وعي الناس ومقاديرهم وتتلاعب بمفاهيم حياتهم وبيئاتهم ، فيتبدل العقد الإلهي النفسي المحكم بين أفراد المجتمع ومكوناته، ليحل محله عقد وهمي زائف يصنع بيئة حياتية سياسية وهمية تأخذ الناس لشر حياتهم ، وتعذب الناس في دنياهم قبل مماتهم ،

تتبدل بنود العقد وفطرته ، لكي تخدم فئة علي حساب فئات ولكي تنهب كل الأموال والمناصب والخيرات ، فيتشكل واقع المجتمع علي أساس خرب بائد وتري الحقائق مغيبة والحقوق مضيعه، وواقع البيئة السياسية المصرية وفشل التحول الديمقراطي هو نموذج حي لتلك المأساة الإنسانية البشرية ، فمع إفساد بنود التعاقد الذهني والنفسي للمجتمع تتبدل البنود وتغيب العقود ، فيصبح الجنود باشوات ، وضباط الشرطة بهوات ، وقضاة الظلم أسيادا للمجتمع وأدوات للسياسة والساسات  ، تري اللصوص رجال أعمال والمرتشين أصحاب أفضال ، يبيت الدجال عالما ورجل الدين متخلفا والحرية خلع والتعليم وهم والديمقراطية كذبة والحرية خدعة ،  تسطر أقدار الناس بأيدي حفنة من الجهلة وتحكم البلاد بأمهر الفشلة ،

 لا تري دورا للعالم ولا الطبيب ولا المهندس ولا المثقف ،  ولكن تري هؤلاء من تذيلوا قوائم العلم والتعليم يتوارثون الحكم والمناصب في دولة الزيف والخرائب  ، تتشكل بيئة سياسية قميئة فاشلة لا تصنع حرية ولا تنتج رخاء ، فلا عجب ولا عجاب إن فشلت المنظومات الإقتصادية والإجتماعية والسياسية ، ولا غرابة ولا عجابة في أن تتصدر البلاد قوائم الجهل والفقر والمرض،  فتلك البيئة المزيفة لا تبني أسرة ولا مجتمع ولا مدرسة للعلم ولا فناء ،

تحيط تلك البيئة السياسية بالجميع ، لا فرق بين معارض ومؤيد ، تري تعريف السياسي المرموق وقد بات إبن الباشوات وصاحب السيجارات والسيارات والقنوات ، صار النموذج الوفدي السراجي مثلا ومثالا لمن له الحكم أو الحق في أن يترشح في الإنتخابات ، هذا من منظور هؤلاء من يرون نفسهم قادة للمعارضة والحريات ، أما من يحكمون فقد باتوا يرون البدل والنياشين وصفائح المعدن ورتب الدواويين رمزا لمن يجب أن يحكم ويحدد مستقبل الوطن والمواطنين ، كلاهما جاهل يفتقر لعلم الحداثة وإدارة المنظومات في عصر الحريات والديمقراطيات، والجميع ينسي أو يتناسب أن كلا النموذجين فشل في تقديم أي نجاحات لوطن قد عاني فيه المواطن من كل الجهات وعلي مر العقود والسنوات،

باتت التجمعات السياسية فاسدة بلا هدف ولا إنجازات ، لا تقارن تشكيلها ومضمونها بأي بيئة إحترافية متطورة ، يري هؤلاء معارضهم ومؤيدهم أن الحلم جرم إذا لم يخرج عنهم ، فلم يتعلم هؤلاء أن أساس التغيير هو الحلم والفكرة ، ففي مفهوم بيئتهم السياسية تري تحقير المختلف غاية ووأد الإبداع آيه ، فالمهم والأهم أن تسيطر حتي لو لم تكن تعي ماتقول أو تسطر ،

صار تعريف الشخصية الهامة تلك التي لا يمكنك الوصول إليها بسهولة ، ولا ترد علي رسائلك بكلمات ولكن بأصابع وورود وقبلات ، فالمغيب هام ومشغول ولا يجد وقتا للكتابة والمقول، وإن كان ينام نصف حياته ولا يختلف وجوده عن مماته ،  لم يتعلم هؤلاء في عصر التواصل والإبداع أن التواصل فن والكلمة سر وأن قيمة الشخص وقامته تتحدد بكتابته ورسالته ، وأن العالم الحديث يقيم شخصيتك بإهتمامك بمشاعر الناس وتقديرك لكل حرف ورسالة ، ولكنها بيئة متخلفة رجعية لا تعلم إلا النفاق وطعام المأدبات ولا تتقن إلا الرشاوي وحكايات الليل والمؤثرات ،  لا مكان لها في عالم التغيير والإبداع المتجانس، ولكنها تلك البيئات السياسية المزيفه التي لا تنتج إلا شخصيات وهمية وزائفه ، غير قادرة ولا مؤثره ،

في تلك البيئة السياسية المصطنعة تري الناس مشلولين عجزة، غير قادرين علي تغيير واقعهم ولا تشكيل مستقبلهم ، يغيب الوعي والفهم  ويحل الجهل والهم ، تري الكذاب القاتل يكذب ثم يقتل ، فيقتل ثم يكذب ولكنه يحكم ويتحكم وتري من يفسر له البنود ويهيئ له الأسباب والعقود ،

العقد الجديد وحلم التغيير والأمل 

كانت ثورة يناير محاولة جادة لإنهاء ذلك العقد الزائف  وطي صحيفته وإنهاء مدته ، حملها شباب لم يتشكل وعيهم داخل تلك البيئة السياسية الفاسدة ولم يتمكن  منهم ذلك المرض العضال برمته ، ولكن بأبي أصحاب العقود والأختام الزائفة إلا أن يعيدوها وأن يجددوها فتسير البلاد علي بحور من الدماء والفقر والقهر إلي مصير غير معلوم وإلي قدر بالخطر محتوم،

ولذلك فأصل الخطر وكل المصيبة يكمن في تغيير تلك البيئة السياسية الحياتية الفاسدة والتي غيبت وعي شعب بأكمله وسيطرت تاريخا زائفا لحاضره ومستقبله ، فبات التغيير مستحيلا وصار الخروج من مستنقع الزيف خطيرا ، حتي مع كل الظلم والفقر والقهر والفشل ، يبقي السؤال دائما ، أين الأمل ؟

يبقي الأمل في الشباب ، في تلك النبتة التي تتعلم وتطور من قدراتها في كل يوم وليلة ، هذه المجموعات التي تأبي في خضم كل هذه الصعوبات إلا أن ترتقي وتنجح وتلحق بركب العلم والفهم والحرية ، تراهم وتعلمهم في كل مجالات العمل والعلم المتقدمة علي أرض مصر وخارجها ، يتواصلون مع العالم عبر الشبكات العنكبوتية ويعيشون في بيئة حياتية مختلفة وينتمون لعقد ذهني مختلف ، يبقي الأمل في بناء جيل جديد من هؤلاء ، جيل يحمل وعيا وفكرا مختلفا ، جيل ينمو ويتطور بعيدا عن المؤثرات الرجعية للمعارضة والنظام ، جيل يري الحق في كل الناس ولا يقصر رؤيته علي حزب أو جماعة ، جيل يري العدل واجبا والتغير طريقا ، يحمل منارة الحداثة والعلم ومهارات الإبداع والتواصل ، جيل يربي علي مفهوم إدارة التغيير وعلم المشروعات وقبول الآخر و إحترام الحلم وإعطاء الفرصة للكل ،

جيل يحمل مشعل الأخلاق والعلم والحرية والديمقراطية ، يتخلص من الأحقاد والأضغان الشخصية والإعتبارية ، جيل يعلم أن كل مبادرة خطوة علي طريق التغيير فيدعمها وكل حلم أمل علي طريق الحرية فيعيشه ، جيل يحمل الحب ويبغض الكره وسيطرة الأفراد، جيل يعيد العقد الجمعي للمجتمع لفطرته ويبني دولة المهارات والفن والقدرات ، جيل يخلق بيئة سياسية جديدة من أجل الخير للجميع ومن أجل وطن أفضل وحياة أثمر، من أجل مصر الغد ، مصر الحرية والديمقراطية ، مصر الحق والعدل،

إعادة انتخاب السيسي ومستقبل المؤسسة السياسية في مصر

هيثم حسنين

علنت الهيئة الوطنية للانتخابات في مصر في 2 نيسان/أبريل فوز الرئيس عبد الفتاح السيسي بولاية رئاسية ثانية بنسبة 97 في المئة من الأصوات. وخلال فترة ولايته الأولى، ركّز عمل السيسي على خنق الحياة السياسية وتهميش أخصامه، وبالتالي سيتحول اهتمامه الآن إلى إعادة بناء المؤسسة السياسية. وبالفعل، تم زرع بذور النظام السياسي الجديد، من دون أن تلاحظ واشنطن ذلك.

ومنذ انقلاب عام 2013، سعى السيسي وحلفاؤه إلى تدمير المعارضة من خلال قمع الإسلاميين، ولا سيما جماعة “الإخوان المسلمين”. وشكّل “حزب النور” السلفي الاستثناء الوحيد كونه دعم الانقلاب وقدّم شرعيةً دينية لحكومة السيسي. وبالمثل، تم طرد الكثير من أعضاء المعارضة اليسارية والليبرالية خارج البلاد أو تم حظرهم من جميع وسائل الإعلام، في حين، وللمرة الأولى، بدأت أجهزة الاستخبارات في شراء الوكالات الصحفية أو الاستثمار فيها بشكلٍ مباشر. وفي هذا الصدد، حظّرت الحكومة أيضًا جميع الأنشطة السياسية في الجامعات.

من جهة أخرى، اختارت الأجهزة الأمنية غالبية أعضاء البرلمان بعناية، وذلك لضمان أن تلقى مشاريع القوانين التي يقررها السيسي الموافقة التلقائية. ومن بين التشريعات الجديدة تأتي القوانين التي تفرض عقوبات صارمة على أي مواطن يجرؤ على تنظيم مظاهرات غير مرخصة، كما تم اعتماد “تصاريح احتجاج” شديدة التقييد.

وفي هذا الإطار، تنبثق كل هذه الأعمال من الاعتقاد المتأصل بأن التشاحن السياسي والسياسة عامةً يشكلان مصدر إلهاء للبلاد. ويبدو أن السيسي نفسه يحتقر السياسيين، ويصفهم بأنهم منافقون وفاسدون ولا يخدمون سوى مصالحهم الشخصية. ففي رأيه، إنّ المؤسسة التي هيمنت على مصر، بعد أن أعاد الرئيس أنور السادات فتح المجال السياسي في السبعينيات من القرن المنصرم، قد تجاوزت الغرض الذي كان منشودًا منها.

ففي ذلك الوقت، أعاد السادات العمل بالأحزاب السياسية لتقديم هالة من الشرعية والديمقراطية. ومع مرور الوقت، تمكنت المعارضة من تحقيق دور سياسي كبير بلغ ذروته في ثورة عام 2011. ووفقًا للسيسي وحلفائه، كادت تلك الانتفاضة أن تدمّر الدولة والجيش عن طريق جلب الإخوان المسلمين إلى السلطة. وبرأيهم، إنّ الحفاظ على مثل هذا الحيز السياسي الواسع يمكن أن يؤدي إلى انتفاضة أخرى.

ومن هنا، يتطلع السيسي إلى إعادة تعبئة المجال السياسي بشبان “أوفياء ووطنيين” من اختيار الأجهزة الأمنية ومكتب الرئيس، على أن يحل هؤلاء الشبان محل النخبة من المسنين الذين بدأوا حياتهم المهنية في السبعينيات من القرن المنصرم.

وبعد وفاة الرئيس السابق جمال عبد الناصر، واجه الزعماء في مصر صعوبات كبرى في صياغة أيديولوجيا سياسية قادرة على التنافس مع اليساريين والإسلاميين والليبراليين. ولا شك في أنّ السيسي قد لاحظ فشل أسلافه. لذلك، يبني المؤسسة الجديدة حول قضايا مثل محاربة الإرهاب وحماية الوطن من محور الشر المحسوس والمؤامرات الأجنبية والجيل الرابع من الحروب ـ وبعبارة أخرى، يكمن الحل بنظره في تجييش الحس الوطني.

والجدير بالذكر أن الحكومة تعمل على هذه الخطة منذ فترة، إذ أعلنت عن “المؤتمر الوطني للشباب” الأول في كانون الثاني/يناير 2016 وأجرته في شرم الشيخ في تشرين الأول/أكتوبر من ذاك العام. كما نظّم قسم الإعلام التابع لمكتب الرئيس هذا الحدث بالشراكة مع وزارة الشباب والرياضة و”البرنامج الرئاسي لتأهيل الشباب للقيادة” ووكالات أخرى. أمّا المشاركون الذين قدّر عددهم بنحو 3 آلاف فرد فقد ضموا الطلاب الجامعيين والرياضيين والمثقفين والسياسيين الناشئين. وحضروا محاضرات ألقاها حوالي 300 “خبير” وشخصية عامة. ومذاك، تم عقد ما لا يقل عن ثلاثة مؤتمرات وطنية للشباب.

وتجدر الإشارة إلى أن “البرنامج الرئاسي لتأهيل الشباب للقيادة”، الذي تأسس في أيلول/سبتمبر 2015 بهدف خلق قادة سياسيين جدد، يشكّل العمود الفقري لهذه الفعاليات. فينقسم المشاركون إلى مجموعات ويوضعون في ورشات عمل حول الاقتصاد والإعلام والعلوم السياسية والاستراتيجية والأمن القومي، وذلك ضمن برنامج مدته تسعة أشهر. ووفقًا لمقابلة أجريت مع وزير التربية طارق شوقي في تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر 2017، تخرجت من هذا البرنامج مجموعتان حتى الآن، ويعمل حاليًا اثنان وعشرون من خريجيها في مناصب وزارية مختلفة.

يتمثل هدف السيسي على المدى الطويل بإنشاء طبقة سياسية خالية تمامًا من جماعة “الإخوان المسلمين” وأعضاء المعارضة الآخرين. وقد تكون هذه الرؤية على وشك الإثمار خلال الانتخابات المحلية القادمة، والتي أجلتها الحكومة مرارًا وتكرارًا بهدف إعداد مرشحين مناسبين – وبالتحديد المشاركين في “البرنامج الرئاسي لتأهيل الشباب للقيادة” ومؤتمرات الشباب. وفي هذا الصدد، أشار وزير التنمية المحلية أبو بكر الجندي إلى أن البرلمان سيعتمد التشريع التنفيذي المتعلق بإدارة هذه الانتخابات بعد انتخابات الرئاسة.

وبصرف النظر عن مشاعر واشنطن تجاه حكومة السيسي، فإن رعاية هذا الجيل السياسي الجديد وإشراك أفراده خلال سنواتهم الأولى قد يؤديان إلى مساعدة المسؤولين الأمريكيين على إعادة ترسيخ نفوذهم في القاهرة. وهذا يشمل دعوتهم إلى الولايات المتحدة من خلال المبادرات الدبلوماسية العامة التابعة لوزارة الخارجية مثل “برنامج الزائر الدولي القيادي”. وستزداد فرص نجاح هذه الجهود في حال تم التعاون فيها مع الحكومة المصرية.

Source: The Washington Institute

Presidential Candidates Egypt 2018 – Hossam ElShazly Withdrew from the race

Presidential elections will be held in Egypt between 26 and 28 March 2018, though Egyptians abroad will vote from 16 March until 18 March 2018. On 19 January, incumbent President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi formally announced he would run for a second and final term. A runoff, if necessary, will take place 19 April to 21 April outside the country and 24 April to 26 April within the country.

Withdrawn candidates:

Hossam ElShazly, the Secretary-General of the Egyptian Change Council, an advocate of the liberal democratic vision, and the Political and Economic Advisor officially announced his intention to run for the Presidential race on January 21, 2018 via a formal recorded video which was published on his official campaign page on the Facebook and was published in all the related newspapers throughout Egypt.

ElShazly withdrew on 28 January 2018 after the arrest of another candidate; Sami Anan, the former Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces and Khalid Ali, a human rights lawyer, and as a direct result of the suppression environment generated by the military ruling regime in Egypt. ElShazly supporters faced difficulties in registering pledges for him as Sisi has exerted pressure on former presidential candidates so that they would not run against him. The current regime led by Sisi used its pro-governmental media against the campaign of ElShazly, falsely accused him of acting against the government and issued an official decree via a local court in Egypt to add him to the list which prevents ElShazly from participating in any forthcoming election in Egypt for the period of 5 years. The list of withdrawn candidates includes, Khaled Ali, a human rights lawyer, the former head of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights , Sami Hafez Anan, a former Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, El-Sayyid el-Badawi, chairman of the New Wafd Party., Mortada Mansour, chairman of Zamalek Sporting Club, and Anwar Essmat Sadat, expelled MP.

Egypt election dominated by elderly voters and dancers.

Egypt presidential election seen as little more than a referendum on the rule of President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi.

At three polling stations across Cairo, a trickle of mostly elderly voters on Monday and Tuesday walked past heavy security, including armed soldiers and police, to get to the ballot box. At one polling station in the Giza neighbourhood of Haram, a young soldier guarded the entrance from behind a pile of sandbags, the barrel of his gun pointed at the path of incoming voters.

After an election campaign in which five of Sisi’s potential challengers were prevented from getting on the ballot, the battle in this election is for turnout. Sixty million people are eligible to vote in Egypt. Yet despite the lengthy voting period, with the polls open from 9am to 9pm every day, voters appeared in short supply.

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At a polling station in downtown Cairo on Tuesday afternoon, judge Ahmed Abdel Raoof listened to nationalist pop music as he watched over the empty room of a school that was being used as a polling station. There were no booths at any of the polling stations visited by the Guardian, meaning voters filled out their ballots in full view of others.

“There are 3,000 people registered to vote at this school. So far just over 500 have voted, yesterday and today,” said Abdel Raoof. He blamed the low turnout on a high proportion of elderly voters in that district who, he said, would have trouble getting out to vote.

But young people have been a rare sight at polling stations. Almost 61% of Egypt’s population is aged under 30, yet voters from that demographic were almost impossible to find.

In a petrol station cafe in Cairo’s upscale Zamalek neighbourhood, the pink ink stain on 19-year-old Farid Fadhy’s little finger marked him out as a rare young voter. “I hope that whatever comes next is better,” he said, explaining what drove him to the polls.

With voter numbers in doubt, the Egyptian authorities continued their push for a high turnout. The governor of Beheira in the Nile Delta declared that districts with the highest turnout would be rewarded with upgraded water and sanitation infrastructure. Egypt’s state news agency Mena reported that people boycotting the vote would be fined 500 EGP (roughly £20).

Down the street from a polling station in Haram, Mamdouh Abdel-Moneim, 21, and his friend Ahmed Said, 20, leaned against a car as they watched a procession of older voters go to the polls. A group of elderly women had gathered outside the polling station to wave banners in support of Sisi, dancing and ululating to earsplitting pro-government music.

“I’m not going to vote, as I know the result – Sisi will win,” said Abdel-Moneim. Said, however, said he would vote for Sisi’s challenger, Moussa Mostafa Moussa, who entered as a candidate at the last minute, even though his party previously endorsed Sisi. “If he wins, it’s OK, if not, it doesn’t matter. It’s not that competitive,” he said.

Kholoud, a 22-year-old student who declined to give her full name, said she would not be voting.

“I live across the street from my polling station in Heliopolis, but I won’t participate [in the election],” she said. “There is no credibility in all of this. I will not vote because I do not matter to this country. I am nothing in this equation. My voice is not important.”

She added: “I don’t want to judge the people who are voting. But the old people who are voting and dancing in the polling stations learn nothing from history. They should know that when they give leaders carte-blanche support like this, it’s us who end up getting screwed.”

Source:Ruth Michaelson, the Guardian