Is History Repeating Itself in Egypt?

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A handout picture released on February 1, 2015, by Egypt's Middle East News Agency (MENA) shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi delivering a speech during a meeting with security forces commanders, representatives of political parties and other public figures in the capital Cairo. AFP/MENA

By: Rania Rabih al-Abd

Published Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Is history repeating itself in Egypt today, or are the same mistakes being committed again? About four years ago, the opposition called for boycotting the second round of elections, because candidates of the now-dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP) won a suspicious landslide victory, gaining 95 percent of parliamentary seats, even in districts where NDP candidates had lost popular support to candidates from the opposition and independent parties.

Cairo — This scenario repeated itself yesterday as nominations began. The Supreme Committee for Election opened up to nominations for parliamentary elections (a 10-day process), and one Ahmed Ezz — “one of the main reasons for the January Revolution” — submitted his application through his lawyer.

The call for boycott came even before the first round this time, as many suspect that the expected outcome of this election may resemble the previous one.

The fraud witnessed during the 2010 election was committed and overseen by the same Ahmed Ezz, the NDP’s secretary-general at the time, from an operations room in the party headquarters near Tahrir Square and Abdel Munim Riad Square. The boycott of the second round of elections revealed the fragility of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, which had ruled the country for 30 years. In those days, a number of opposition parties, including the Wafd Party and the currently banned Muslim Brotherhood, led the boycott . The most important result of the boycott, the January 25 Revolution, followed a few months after, in 2011.

The Constitution Party established by Mohammed al-Baradei recently joined the list of parties boycotting the 2015 elections, which includes the Egyptian Popular Current (headed by former 2014 presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi), The Socialist People’s Alliance Party and the Strong Egypt Party (headed by former 2012 presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh). The reason for the boycott, according to these parties, is the government’s rejection of their repeated demand to amend the electoral law in order to “build a political system based on a multi-party system and transfer of power.”

Amr Badr, a member of the Socialist People’s Alliance Party and a boycott supporter, said “boycotting is the solution, it is the best option in light of a regime that does not believe in the political parties that are counting on the January 25 Revolution.” Badr believes the “revolutionary wave” is coming, but he cannot predict its timing: “The make-up of the next parliament (if the elections are held in this manner) will inflame public sentiments as the political and economic oligarchs — who corrupted Egypt’s political life and against whom the revolution erupted in the first place — return.”

The Constitution Party, which joined the boycott recently, justified its decision saying: “The current political climate does not encourage political parties to participate in public life. There is a strong tendency to narrow and confine the political sphere to people with special interests, influence and money, in addition to ongoing severe human rights violations.”

Ezz running in the elections suggests that the same scenario may be crudely repeated. And he wasn’t the only symbol of the Mubarak regime — imprisoned after the January 25 Revolution only to be later acquitted — to be involved in the nomination process. The list of candidates (until the deadline for submitting papers to the relevant courts) is headed by Ahmed Ezz and his wife Shahinaz al-Najjar; but also Hussein Megawer, president of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation under Mubarak; another NDP figure named Ragab Hilal Hamida; and also Hani Sorour who was accused of supplying tainted blood bags [to Egyptian hospitals] but acquitted after several years of adjudication.

Hassan Nafaa, a political science professor, commented on the current electoral scene saying the revolution continues and it is taking different forms. He believes the election will “expose the nature of the regime and will determine if it is an extension of the Mubarak regime or if there is some kind of change.”

Nafaa however argues that “the revolution will not be like the one in 2011, especially now that Egypt is entering a period that resembles the Mubarak era in terms of the behavior of security agencies as they tighten their control over events, the return of the network of economic and political interests through parliament, and the strengthening of the military institution, through the presidency of former Secretary of Defense Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.” He adds: “Liberal forces have begun to realize that the current regime is not their regime... The power of the ruling regime will be determined in the next six months and in light of its confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

These comments raise the question about Egypt that also needs to be raised about Lebanon. Is it humanly possible to resist the "pressure" from Israel and its allies? Is it asking too much of people in their various professional expectations, their accustomed styles of living, their friends and families, their traditions, to want them to just tell these rich bloodthirsty foreigners to leave them alone? Mao of China apparently got the foreigners to leave China alone by inviting them to kill as many Chinese as they liked, it would not be enough. It is a cliche, and the slogan on New Hampshire (US state) automobile license plates, "Live Free or Die", but can you really give up your life for political freedom? I guess I am asking you personally. And is that the necessary price for political freedom always? Perhaps Chinese people are by tradition just tremendously arrogant, so in love with their own traditions that they cheerfully die to prevent someone from insulting their fashion sense or their cuisine. Maybe the humble wise person accepts the invader with a smile and a willingness to do the dirty work. Where does dignity begin, and where does it stop?
It has to do with compassion. If you cannot see your neighbor as another you, your political system is dead.

Is it a fake rumour that Sisi is of jewish heritage ? What a mess they seem to be in.

Interesting that you make such a comment. If go back to the former ancestries of those who originate from the Middle east, I would say that 99.9% of those are of a Jewish ancestry. Lets not forget that Isham was the true son of Abraham as well. So all Jews as well as Arabs originate from the same father who was Jewish. So if Sisi has Jewish blood, so would the rest of all the Arab population for all Arabs descend from Abraham as well, which besides Egypt would also include those from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, etc., etc.

Well, I don't believe in those books literally, and your number are made up.

I'm more interested in the political implications if he is hiding his possible jewishness. He also seems to be going against Palestine now.

A lot of people believe in some things that others don't. You are no different and neither an I. As for Sisi and what he is doing to the Palestinians, is often no different about what Abdul Nasser did as well. Nasser made sure that Palestinians would continue to remain in Gaza and encircled them so that he could continue to use them as pawns. Sisi is just very cautious by the fact that Hamas who was supported by the Morsi led government, was initiating a system for breaking existing diplomatic relations with the Israeli neighbour. Mubarak was equally cautious of the Muslim Brotherhood and was himself warned of their deceitfulness. That's why he closed them up every time he could. Sisi is no different. After witnessing what Hamas was doing to disable the Egyptian economy, Sisi simply took action to defend Egypt against Hamas. Yes Hamas are Palestinians, but they are the type of Palestinians who care little for those of their own kind, who seek peace and not the continuation of economic Gaza misery. By the way, the Sisi Jew story was formally circulated by the Hamas propaganda machinery. You have now been informed.

It is a known fact that Egyptian politicians have always ben interested in themselves rather than those they rule and govern. President Sisi, has yet to make his name for the simple reason that the country was in a total turmoil when he took over when swiftly deposing the Muslim Brotherhood of its leadership. Sisi did so for the sake of saving not just the Egyptian economy, but more so by saving the country from total collapse because of Morsi's plans, which would have brought another war between Israel and Egypt. Few see this reality as it should be seen. Morsi was nothing more than another radical Muslim dictator, who along with Hamas and Erdogan of Turkey, along with Qatar's funding, would have brought total chaos to the entire Middle East. Sisi should be praised for his courage. Being the president of Egypt is no easy task. People need to give him the room and space to do what he needs to do to protect Egyptians from the likes of those who wish its demise.

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