Military backing al-Sisi for President in Egypt-Here we go again..or? Part I Military rule since Farouk (1952)
With the expected news that the military had given its backing to Field Marshall Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s candidacy for the Presidential elections this April came an almost universal sighing of “Oh no, here we go again.” Democracy seems to have taken a step backwards as military rule, once again, becomes the mode of governance in Egypt, as it has since the overthrow of King Farouk in 1952. The one exception was the election and rule for but two days beyond one year, of President Mohamed Morsi, now seen by the world in a glass cage being tried for jailbreak. The election of Sisi, who led the coup that toppled Morsi is all but certain to bring the Presidency back to the military. How did this come about? And what does it say about democracy in Egypt? This is a three part series and in this Part One we’ll trace the military’s post-Faruk lineage. In Part two, we’ll examine the relationship between the military and the Muslem Brotherhood up to Mohamad Morsi’s election following the “Arab Spring.” In Part Three we’ll examine the one year presidency of Morsi, his overthrow by the military, and how we see that playing into the upcoming elections.
Modern Egypt is said to have begun in the 19th Century, when Muhammid Ali established the Alawiyya Dynasty that ruled Egypt until the overthrow of his grandson King Farouk I in 1952. Farouk, aka “His Majesty Farouk I, by the grace of God, King of Egypt and Sudan, Sovereign of Nubia, of Kordofan, and of Darfur.” Farouk was considered by many Egyptians to be no more than a a puppet of the British Colonial Regime and was overthrown in the The Free Officers Revolt, led by General Muhammad Naguib and Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser, and supported by the CIA.
With the establishment of the new republic in 1953, General Naguib became its first President. Colonel Nasser then forced Naguib to resign in 1954 and placed him under house arrest with Nasser taking over as President in 1956. In rapid order, the remaining British military in the Canal Zone left the country, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal and the resulting “Suez Crisis” ensued, with Great Britain, France and Israel gaining temporary control of the Canal. Israel became involved and provided the main military force, when Nasser closed the Canal to Israeli shipping. Though a blockade is considered an Act of War in established International Law, Eisenhower, who wasn’t consulted before the Triumvirate acted, forced the return of the Canal back to Egyptian control. Nasser became an Egyptian icon, indeed the vast body of water beyond the Aswan Dam has been renamed Lake Nasser, in honor to the late President and Prime Minister.
Following Nasser’s death in 1970, Anwar Sadat, also active in the Free Officer’s s revolt that overthrew Farouk, and Nasser’s close confidant, became President. Here it should be noted that despite Islamist factions in the military, by and large there has been a strong antagonism between the military and The Muslim Brotherhood. Nasser survived a jihadist Brotherhood attempt on his life in 1954, and Sadat was assassinated by an Islamist faction within the military. We will elaborate on this antagonism between the military and the Muslem Brothers in Part Two, next week.
Back to the Presidency: Hosni El Sayed Mubarak, Sadat’s Vice President, and like Sadat a former military commander who was famously injured in the attack on Sadat, succeeded him as the military’s choice for President. He stayed in power from 1981 until he was forced to step down during the Arab Spring Revolution in 2011.
Mohamed Morsi was elected as the fifth President of Egypt following the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, and the subsequent forced resignation of Hosni Mubarak. Following Morsi’s imposition of a pro Islamist constitution, fears of reactionary restrictions led, once again, to massive protests from more secular demonstrators. This was met with counter-demonstrations by Brotherhood supporters. As the crisis deepened, the military took matters in their own hands and Morsi was overthrown in a coup. New elections, with the Muslem Brotherhood barred from fielding a candidate, are scheduled to be held in April, 2014.
In one of the many ironies that we have become accustomed to involving CIA strategic activities abroad, they covertly supported the Free Officer’s Revolution against Farouk only to see Nasser lead Egypt right into the Soviet camp. The USSR was not only a supplier of arms to Egypt, but was allowed to place and man missile sites in the supposedly neutralized Sinai, threatening our staunch ally Israel. Thus the irony: our intelligence services supported and armed Bin Laden in Afghanistan, Sadaam Hussein in Iraq and Nasser in Egypt, all subsequent enemies of The United States.
Martin, The Pragmatic Liberal-writing on pragmaticliberalism.com