EGYPT POLITICS: Abdel Fattah al-Sisi Biography And Profile

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By Politicoscope November 10, 2016 09:00

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EGYPT POLITICS: Abdel Fattah al-Sisi Biography And Profile

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The former head of Egypt’s armed forces, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, came to prominence as a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), which governed after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak. He resigned from the military on 26 March 2014 in order to run for president.

This came nine months after he helped to topple the previous president, Mohammed Morsi, who had made him commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
A central figure in the army-backed post-Morsi interim government, Mr Sisi became the object of almost cult-like popular devotion, while showing adeptness as a political tactician.

In February, the Scaf gave him the green light to stand for president, in what it said was a response to the “desire of the masses”.
At the same time, interim President Adly Mansour promoted him from general to field marshal – Egypt’s top military post.

Support
Mr Sisi launched his election campaign under the slogan “Long Live Egypt”, outlining an ambitious plan to develop agriculture, housing, education and impoverished areas and boost employment through “hard work by him and Egyptians alike”.

On his plans to combat poverty, he pledged Egyptians would see a better standard of living within two years of him being in power. He called on the private and public sectors to help the poor by opting for “lower profit margins”, otherwise the army itself would offer high quality goods at lower prices.

He has also said his victory would mean the Muslim Brotherhood’s time would be “finished” and that the discourse of Islamists had to be “rectified”.
Mr Sisi’s campaign is better-funded than that of rival candidate Hamdeen Sabahi due to the backing of a number of prominent businessmen.

Those who have declared their support include al-Dawa al-Salafiya (The Salafist Call), the Salafist Nour Party, the liberal Free Egyptians Party and the liberal New Wafd Party.

Mr Sisi appears to be genuinely popular. Far from being a stern military figure, he has a softly-spoken but charismatic presence, often seen smiling and known for emotional speeches. At a concert in 2012, his words famously had artists on the stage with him in tears.

Many Egyptians see in him the strong leader needed to overcome the instability that has beset Egypt since the mass protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square ended Hosni Mubarak’s long rule in 2011.

But his ascendancy has left some worrying that it heralds a return to the authoritarian security state that prevailed under Mr Mubarak, rendering the Tahrir Square revolution a brief experiment in democracy.

Only a day before the army backed Mr Sisi’s rumoured presidential ambitions, the interim government rearranged the post-Morsi authorities’ “roadmap” to democracy to ensure that the presidential election will be held before parliamentary polls, and not after, as had been initially intended.

The move left some fearing that the new timetable will allow Mr Sisi to use a likely landslide victory to cement near-complete control over the political system.

Fall of Islamists
Mr Morsi’s decision to appoint Abdul Fattah al-Sisi as army chief in 2012 was then actually seen as an attempt to reclaim power from the military, which had assumed interim control after President Mubarak’s fall.

The following year, nationwide protests erupted against the Muslim Brotherhood-led government, motivated by anger at at a perceived drift towards greater Islamist influence on public life, as well as continuing economic hardship.

After months of mounting pressure on the government, Gen Sisi effectively delivered the coup de grace with a televised ultimatum warning that the army would intervene if the government did not respond to “the will of the people” and end the crisis within 48 hours.

Hours later, army helicopters threw thousands of Egyptian flags over anti-Morsi protesters in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square. The cheering crowds responded with chants of “the people and the army are one hand”.

But Mr Sisi’s rise has not been without controversy.

He is blamed for the deaths of hundreds of people killed in the authorities’ crackdown on Islamists since the ousting of President Morsi in July 2013.

Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters are believed to have been killed in August 2013, when security forces stormed two protest camps in Cairo set up by supporters of Mr Morsi demanding his reinstatement.

The crackdown in Cairo sparked a wave of violence across the country after pro-Morsi supporters attacked government buildings and dozens of Coptic Christian churches were burnt, prompting the authorities to declare a state of emergency.

More people have been killed since the military launched a major campaign against suspected Islamist militants in northern Sinai in September 2013.

The exact figure is not known but the Muslim Brotherhood said in August 2013 up to 2,200 of its supporters had been killed in the crackdown.

Aside from the bloodshed, in April 2012 Mr Sisi also hit the headlines with a statement that appeared to defend “virginity tests” carried out on 17 women detained and beaten by soldiers at an anti-Mubarak protest in Tahrir Square in March 2011.

Gen Sisi said the tests had been done “to protect the girls from rape, and the soldiers and officers from accusations of rape”.
Scaf quickly distanced itself from the comments, and Gen Sisi quickly promised to abolish such tests, but the incident was a blow to the military’s image.

Military career
Despite a long military career, Mr Sisi has little actual combat experience, latterly specialising mainly in military intelligence. On his appointment as army chief, he was the youngest member of Scaf.

Born in Cairo on 19 November 1954, he served in the infantry after graduating from the Egyptian Military Academy in 1977, rising to command a mechanised division.

He went on to serve as information and security chief at the Defence Ministry general secretariat, military attache in Saudi Arabia, chief-of-staff and then commander of Egypt’s Northern Military Zone, before being appointed head of Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance.

– BBC

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Fast Facts

Here is a look at the life of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Personal:
Birth date: November 19, 1954

Birth place: Cairo, Egypt

Birth name: Abdel Fattah Said Hussein Khalil el-Sisi

Father: Said “Hassan” el-Sisi, bazaar shop owner

Mother: Soad Mohamed

Marriage: Entissar Amer (1977-present)

Children: Mustafa, Mahmoud, Hassan and Aya (daughter)

Education: Egyptian Military Academy, 1977; Attended Egyptian Command and Staff College, 1987; Attended Joint Command and Staff College, United Kingdom, 1992; Attended Nasser’s Military Sciences Academy, Egypt, 2003; Attended U.S. Army War College, Pennsylvania, 2006

Religion: Muslim

Other Facts:
After graduating from military academy in Egypt, Sisi began in the infantry corps and later rose to command a mechanized infantry division, then Egypt’s northern military zone.

Served as the Egyptian military attaché in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during then-president Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

Timeline:
February 2011 – Following Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, is appointed director of military intelligence and reconnaissance. He also becomes the youngest member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the interim military authority comprised of senior military leaders.

June 26, 2011 – Sisi pledges to Amnesty International that the Egyptian army will no longer subject female detainees to “virginity tests.” Months earlier, Sisi had confirmed that forced “virginity tests” were performed on women arrested at the March 9 protests and defended the practice.

August 12, 2012 – President Mohamed Morsy appoints Sisi as minister of defense and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

July 1, 2013 – After widespread demonstrations, Sisi delivers the Egyptian military’s message that the country’s civilian government has 48 hours to “meet the demands of the people” or the military will step in to restore order. The ultimatum is not considered the declaration of a coup.

July 3, 2013
Egypt’s military removes Mohamed Morsy from power and reportedly holds him under house arrest.

July 16, 2013 – In addition to retaining his positions as defense minister and leader of the armed forces, Sisi is also sworn-in as deputy prime minister.

January 2014 – Is promoted to field marshal.

March 26, 2014 – Resigns from his military post and declares his candidacy for president of Egypt.

June 3, 2014 – Officially declared the winner of the presidential election, with more than 96% of the vote.

September 23, 2015 –
Sisi pardons 100 prisoners. Among them are Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who were arrested in December 2013 after being accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.


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