Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

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Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
President Sisi.jpg
6th President of Egypt
Incumbent
Assumed office
8 June 2014
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab
Preceded by Adly Mansour (Acting)
Deputy Prime Minister of Egypt
In office
16 July 2013 – 26 March 2014
Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi (Acting)
Ibrahim Mahlab (Acting)
Preceded by Momtaz el-Saeed
Succeeded by Vacant
44th Minister of Defence
In office
12 August 2012 – 26 March 2014
Prime Minister Hesham Qandil
Hazem al-Beblawi (Acting)
Ibrahim Mahlab (Acting)
Preceded by Mohamed Hussein Tantawi
Succeeded by Sedki Sobhi
Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces
In office
12 August 2012 – 26 March 2014
Preceded by Mohamed Hussein Tantawi
Succeeded by Sedki Sobhi
Director of the Egyptian Military Intelligence
In office
3 January 2010 – 12 August 2012
Preceded by Murad Muwafi
Succeeded by Mahmoud Hegazy
Personal details
Born Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi
(1954-11-19) 19 November 1954 (age 59)
Cairo, Egypt
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Entissar Amer (1977–present)
Children Mustafa
Mahmoud
Hassan
Aya
Alma mater Egyptian Military Academy
Religion Sunni Islam
Website Campaign Website
Military service
Allegiance  Egypt
Service/branch Egyptian Army
Years of service 1977–2014
Rank EgyField Marshal.png

Field Marshal

Unit Infantry
Battles/wars Gulf War
Sinai Insurgency

Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi (Arabic: عبد الفتاح سعيد حسين خليل السيسي‘Abd al-Fattāḥ Sa‘īd Ḥusayn Khalīl as-Sīsī, IPA: [ʕæbdel.fætˈtæːħ sæˈʕiːd ħeˈseːn xæˈliːl esˈsiːsi]; born 19 November 1954) is the sixth President of Egypt, in office since 8 June 2014.[1] Previously he was Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, as well as Minister of Defence, from 12 August 2012 until 26 March 2014.[2] As head of the armed forces, he played the leading role in ousting Islamist President Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against Morsi and his government. El-Sisi was subsequently appointed as First Deputy Prime Minister, while remaining Minister of Defense.

El-Sisi resigned from the military on 26 March 2014, announcing he would stand as a candidate in the 2014 presidential election.[2] The poll, held between 26 and 28 May 2014, resulted in a resounding victory for el-Sisi.[3]

Early life and military education

El-Sisi was born on 19 November 1954 in Cairo.[4] He grew up in Gamaleya, near the al-Azhar Mosque, and in a quarter where Muslims, Jews and Christians resided, and in which he has recalled hearing church bells and watching Jews flock to the synagogue unhindered. His family originated from Monufia Governorate,[5] and was known for its discipline, zeal and resulting wealth. He is the second of eight siblings (his father later had six additional children with a second wife). His father, a conservative but not radical Muslim,[6] had a wooden antiques shop for tourists in the historic bazaar of Khan el-Khalili.

Often described as disciplined, quiet and devout, el-Sisi preferred to concentrate on his studies or helping his father rather than participate in soccer with neighborhood children. He and his siblings would study at the nearby library at al-Azhar University. Unlike his brothers – one of whom is a senior judge, another a civil servant – el-Sisi went to a local army-run secondary school, where concurrently his relationship with his maternal cousin Entissar Amer started to develop. They were married upon el-Sisi's graduation from the Egyptian Military Academy in 1977.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13] He attended the following courses:

Career

El-Sisi received his commission as a military officer in 1977 serving in the mechanized infantry, specializing in anti-tank warfare and mortar warfare. He became Commander of the Northern Military Region-Alexandria in 2008 and then Director of Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance. El-Sisi was the youngest member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of Egypt. While a member of the Supreme Council, he made controversial statements regarding allegations that Egyptian soldiers had subjected detained female demonstrators to forced virginity tests. He is reported to have told Egypt's state-owned newspaper that "the virginity-test procedure was done to protect the girls from rape as well as to protect the soldiers and officers from rape accusations."[4] He was the first member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to admit that the invasive tests had been carried out.[15]

Main command positions

  • Commander, 509th Mechanized Infantry Battalion[14]
  • Chief of Staff, 134th Mechanized Infantry Brigade[14]
  • Commander, 16th Mechanized Infantry Brigade[14]
  • Chief of Staff, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Division[14]
  • Chief of Staff, Northern Military Zone[14]
  • Deputy Director, Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance Department[14]
  • Director, Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance Department[14]

Minister of defense

On 12 August 2012, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi made a decision to replace Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Egyptian Armed Forces, with then little-known el-Sisi. He also promoted him to the rank of colonel general.[16] Sisi was then described by the official website of FJP as a "Defense minister with revolutionary taste".[17] El-Sisi also took the post of Minister of Defense and Military Production in the Qandil Cabinet.

El-Sisi salutes the Egyptian flag after being appointed as Defense Minister by the deposed President Morsi.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Egyptian Defense Minister el-Sisi in Cairo, March 3, 2013

After el-Sisi was appointed as minister of defense on 12 August 2012, there were concerns in Egypt regarding rumors that General el-Sisi was the hand of the Muslim Brotherhood in the army, though el-Sisi has always declared that the Egyptian army stands on the side of the Egyptian people. On 28 April 2013, during celebrations for Sinai Liberation Day, el-Sisi said that, "the hand that harms any Egyptian must be cut".[18] This statement was taken by Morsi opponents as a clarification that the Army is in support of them. However, the statement was interpreted by Morsi supporters as a warning to Morsi opponents that el-Sisi would not allow an overthrow of the government. He remained in office under the new government formed after the deposition of Morsi, and led by Hazem al-Beblawi. He was also appointed Deputy Prime Minister of Egypt. On 27 January 2014, he was promoted to the rank of field marshal.[19]

2013 protests and Morsi overthrow

On 30 June 2013, in response to the Tamarod movement, mass demonstrations took place in Tahrir Square and Heliopolis Palace in Cairo as well as in other Egyptian cities including Alexandria, Port Said and Suez.

Clashes took place around Egypt. Soon afterwards, the Egyptian Army issued a 48-hour ultimatum which aired on television that gave the country's political parties until 3 July to meet the demands of the anti-Morsi demonstrators. The Egyptian military also threatened to intervene if the dispute was not resolved by then.[20]

On 2 July 2013, the presidency rejected the Egyptian Army's 48-hour ultimatum and Morsi made a late speech declaring that he would "defend the legitimacy of his elected office with his life and he won't step down".

On 3 July 2013, the Egyptian Army declared that as the political parties had failed to meet the deadline and Morsi had failed to build a national consensus for his leadership, they had to overthrow Morsi. The Egyptian Army then installed Adly Mansour as the interim head of state in his place, and ordered the arrest of many members of the Muslim Brotherhood on charges of "inciting violence and disturbing general security and peace."[21] El-Sisi announced on television that the president had "failed to meet the demands of the Egyptian people" and declared that the constitution would be suspended, which was met by acceptance from anti-Morsi demonstrations and condemnation from pro-Morsi supporters in Rabaa al-Adawiya. Many Islamist movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Wasat Party and al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, rejected the change of regime as a military coup, which they described as "illegitimate" and "anti-democratic".[22]

On 24 July 2013, during a speech at a military parade, General el-Sisi called for mass demonstrations to grant the Egyptian military and police a "mandate" to crack down on terrorism.[23] Some interpreted this to mean that el-Sisi felt the need of the people to prove to the world that it wasn't a coup but the popular will, while the statement was seen by others as contradicting the military's pledges to hand over power to civilians after removing Morsi and as indicating an imminent crackdown against Islamists.[24][25]

The reactions to el-Sisi's announcement ranged from open support from the Egyptian presidency[26] and the Tamarod movement[27] to rejection, not only by the Muslim Brotherhood,[24] but also by the Salafi Nour Party,[28] the moderate Strong Egypt Party,[29] the revolutionary April 6 Youth Movement[30] and Egyptian human rights groups.[31]

However, on 26 July 2013, millions rallied across Egypt, responding to el-Sisi's call, a gathering which was described as "the largest crowds in 2½ years of upheaval" and even bigger numbers than 30 June's numbers.[32]

During the August 2013 Egyptian raids, the Egyptian military under el-Sisi's command joined with the national police in removing camps of Muslim Brotherhood supporters from sit-ins being held throughout the country. This action resulted in rapidly escalating violence that eventually led to the deaths of 638 people, of whom 595 were civilians and 43 police officers, with at least 3,994 injured. Some liberal activists who had supported the ousting of Morsi publicly voiced their concerns: "I'm not happy when they use violence. And I'm worried about them using it again," said Gamal Eid, a well-known human rights activist.[33][34][35] Robert Fisk described General el-Sisi as at a loss, but that a massacre would go down in history as an infamy.[36] Lee Smith concluded that "Egypt’s New Leader Is Unfit to Rule".[37] In a file published by the State Information Services, the government explained the raids by claiming that police went on to use force dispersing the sit-in on 14 August 2013, with the least possible damage, causing hundreds of civilians and police to fall as victims, while Muslim Brotherhood supporters imposed a blockade for 46 days against the people in an-Nahda and Rabaa al-Adawiya squares under the name of sit-in where tens of protesters took to the street daily hindered the lives of the Egyptians, causing unrest and the death or injury of many victims as well as damage to public and private properties.[38] A poll by the Egyptian Centre for Public Opinion Research later showed that 67 percent of Egyptians were satisfied concerning the methods by which the Rabaa al-Adawiya and an-Nahda sit-ins had been dispersed.[39][40][41]

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry meets with el-Sisi in Cairo on November 3, 2013

On 3 August 2013, el-Sisi gave his first interview since the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi. Speaking to The Washington Post, he criticized the U.S. response and accused the Obama administration of disregarding the Egyptian popular will and of providing insufficient support amid threats of a civil war, saying, "You left the Egyptians. You turned your back on the Egyptians, and they won't forget that."[42]

On the 6 October war anniversary, el-Sisi announced that the army was committed to the popular mandate of 26 July 2013: "We are committed, in front of God, to the Egyptian and Arab people that we will protect Egypt, the Egyptians and their free will."[43]

During the anniversary celebration, General el-Sisi invited the Emirati, Iraqi, Bahraini, Moroccan and Jordanian defense ministers to celebrate with Egypt. During his speech he said in a warning way that the Egyptian people "will never forget who stood with them or against them". El-Sisi described 6 October as "a day to celebrate for all Arabs", hoping for the "unification of Arabs". He also thanked "Egypt's Arab brothers, who stood by its side." El-Sisi commented on the relationship between the Egyptian army and Egyptian people, saying that it is hard to break. El-Sisi said: “We would die before you [the Egyptian people] would feel pain". He also compared the Egyptian army to the Pyramid, saying that "it cannot be broken".[43]

Sisi-Mania

The anti-Morsi demonstrators on the streets welcomed el-Sisi's overthrow of Morsi with celebrations and carried posters of el-Sisi, chanting "The Army and the People are one hand" and supporting General el-Sisi. On social networks, thousands of Egyptians changed their profile pictures to pictures of el-Sisi, while others started campaigns requesting that El-Sisi be promoted to the rank of field marshal, while others hoped he would be nominated in the next presidential elections.[44]

Cupcakes, chocolate and necklaces bearing the "CC" initials were created, restaurants in Egypt named sandwiches after him, blogs shared his pictures, and columns, op-eds, TV shows and interviews discussed the "new idol of the Nile valley" in the Egyptian mainstream media.[45][46][47][48]

On 6 December 2013, el-Sisi was named "Time Person of the Year" in Time magazine's annual reader poll.[49] The accompanying article noted "Sisi's success reflected the genuine popularity of a man who led what was essentially a military coup in July against the democratically elected government of then President Mohammed Morsi."[50]

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel participates in an arrival honors ceremony with el-Sisi in Cairo, 24 April 2013

"Kamel Gemilak" (Finish your Favor) and "El-Sisi for president" are campaigns that were started aiming to gather signatures in order to press el-Sisi, who has said he has no desire to govern, to run.[51] Many politicians and parties including Egyptians and non-Egyptians had announced their support for el-Sisi in the event of his running for president, including the National Salvation Front,[52] Tamarod,[53] Amr Moussa, a previous candidate for the presidency,[54] Abdel-Hakim Abdel-Nasser (son of President Gamal Abdel Nasser),[51] unsuccessful presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik,[55] Prime Minister Hazem Al Beblawi,[56] Naguib Sawiris,[57] the Free Egyptians Party, the Revolutionary Forces Bloc,[58] and the Russian president Vladimir Putin.[59] However, Hamdeen Sabahi may run against him in a future presidential race.[60] Subsequently, Sabahi issued criticisms of Sisi and his potential candidacy by expressing doubt about Sisi's commitment to democracy, arguing that the general bears a measure of direct and indirect responsibility for the human rights violations carried out during the period of the interim government. He also denounced what he deemed to be the transitional government's hostility toward the goals of the revolution.[61][62][63]

Kamel Gemilak claimed to have collected 26 million signatures asking Sisi to run for president.[64]

On 21 January 2014, Kamel Gemilak organized a mass conference call in Cairo International Stadium to call on el-Sisi to run for president.[65]

In 6 February 2014, the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Seyassah announced that el-Sisi would run for president, saying that he had to meet the wishes of the Egyptian people for him to run.[66][67] Colonel Ahmed Ali, the Egyptian army's spokesperson, later denied the news, saying that it's not accurate through his official Facebook page.[68]

El-Sisi confirmed on 26 March 2014 that he would run for president in the presidential election.[2] Shortly after his announcement, popular hashtags started for and against el-Sisi presidential bid.[69][70]

The presidential election, conducted over 26, 27 and 28 May 2014, saw el-Sisi win in a landslide, capturing 22 million of the nearly 23 million votes counted.[3]

President of Egypt

President Sisi was sworn into office on 8 June 2014. The event was marked by an impromptu public holiday in Egypt in conjunction with festivals held nationwide.[71] Tahrir Square was prepared to receive millions of Egyptians celebrating Sisi's winning while police and army troops shut down the square outlets with barbed wires and barricades, as well as electronic portals for detecting any explosives that could spoil the festivities.[72] Sisi's oath was held in the morning in Egypt's Supreme constitutional court in front of deputy head of the constitutional court, Maher Sami, who described el-Sisi as a "rebel soldier" and a "revolutionary hero"; ex-president Adly Mansour; other constitutional court members; and a group of Egypt's top politicians. Sisi later removed to the Heliopolis Palace, where a 21-gun salute welcomed the new president, before the ex-president received Sisi near the palace's stairway. Sisi then presided over a reception for the presidents, emirs, kings, and official delegations who had been invited. Turkey, Tunisia and Qatar weren't invited because of their critical stances regarding then-recent events in Egypt.[73] Israel also wasn't invited. Sisi later gave a speech in front of the attendees and signed with the ex-president Adly Mansour, for the first time in the Egyptian history, the handover of power document. after Heliopolis Palace's ceremony el-Sisi moved to Koubbeh Palace where the final ceremony was held and el Sisi gave the final speech of the day, in front of 1200 attendees Representing different spectrums of the Egyptian people and the provinces of Egypt, presenting the problems facing Egypt and his plan saying "In its next phase, Egypt will witness a total rise on both internal and external fronts, to compensate what we have missed and correct the mistakes of the past,". Sisi also issued the first Presidential decree giving ex-president the Order of the Nile.

el-Sisi made an African tour marking Algeria his first abroad destination after taking office seeking Algeria's support to counter Islamist militancy in north Africa in a short visit,[74] shortly before Sisi arrives in Malabo, Guinea to participate in the 23rd ordinary session of the African Union summit where he gave his speech blaming the AU for freezing Egypt's membership a year before. el-Sisi also announced the establishment of an Egyptian partnership agency for Africa's development.[75] he also concluded the tour with a few hours' visit to Sudan.[76]

President Sisi, who repeatedly during his presidential campaign encouraged Egyptians to work harder and to wake up on 5pm, urged Egyptians to be ready for what he have called "The hard work phase". In his first meeting with his cabinet, Sisi told his ministers they must set an example by being in the office by 07:00.[77] Sisi in first street appearance after the cabinet sworn in, participated in a surprising 20-kilometer bike marathon wearing sporting gear and followed by his cabinet ministers, many actors, singers, military and police students to encourage low consumption of fuel which is costing the government billions of dollars every year.[78] Sisi encouraged Egyptians to help rebuilding the Egyptian economy saying that he will give the example announcing that he is donating half his salary and half his personal assets including his inheritance to support the Egyptian economy. a move that will force senior officials and prominent businessmen to do the same.[78] after his call, Colonel General Sedki Sobhi announced that the Egyptian Armed Forces would help supporting the economy by donating $140m (£82m).[78] Sisi has also ordered the ministry of finance to enforce rules on maximum wages estimated at 42,000 EGP ($5,873) per month.[77]

Sisi has expressed his personal concerns about the sexual assaults issue in the country, Sisi was photographed on a hospital visit to a woman receiving treatment after an assault during celebrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square ordering the army, the police, and the media to counter the issue.[78]

Economic reforms

Sisi, who is reportedly facing a severe economic ordeal in Egypt, has decided to raise fuel prices by 78 percent as an introduction to cut the subsides on basic food stuffs and energy which eat up nearly a quarter of the state budget which the Egyptian government has always provided as a crucial aid to millions of people who live in poverty fearing people's anger, in 5 years time. [79] Egypt has spent $96 billion on energy subsidies in a decade which made petrol in Egypt among the world's cheapest. [79] cutting the energy subsidies will save 51 billion pounds from the new measures. the government hopes decision will benefit services such as health and education. Sisi also raised taxes on alcohol and cigarettes applying a flat tax on local and imported cigarettes to between 25 and 40 cents per pack, new property taxes, and plans to introduce a new scheme for value-added taxes. [80] chicken prices reportedly would rise by 25 percent after days of the decision because of added transportation costs, Mini-bus and taxi fares were raised by about 13 percent. [79] the decision was welcomed by anger from some. a smattering of protests broke out after the announcement. Dozens of drivers and passengers blocked the road in the middle-income Cairo neighborhood of Shoubra el-Kheima. [79] Slashing subsidies was recommended by international financial institutions, although no Egyptian leader has managed to broach the issue, fearing unrest in a country where nearly 50 percent of the population live in poverty and rely on government aid. President Sisi defended the decision to raise fuel prices saying it was "bitter medicine" that should have been taken before and was "50 years late" but was not as governments feared the possible backlash like what have happened in 1977. [81] Sisi who previously accepted only the half of his own pay, called on Egyptians to make sacrifices vowing to repair an economy growing at the slowest pace in two decades describing raising energy prices as the only way to save the nation from “drowning in debt,”. Sisi warned Egyptians of more pain over the next two years from economic problems that he said had accumulated over the last four decades and need to be fixed. [82]

Personal life

Unlike previous leaders, el-Sisi has been protective of the privacy of his family.[83] He is married and the father of three sons and one daughter. He comes from a religious family and frequently inserts Quranic verses into informal conversations;[84] El-Sisi's wife wears the traditional Islamic Hijab. He is known to be quiet and is often called the Quiet General. His interests include reading about history and law. El-Sisi was often called "General Sisi" when he was young due to his perceived orderly demeanor.[83]

According to Sherifa Zuhur, a professor at the War College, when el-Sisi attended, many American officers expressed doubts that Muslims could be democratic. El-Sisi disputed this opinion; he and others were critical of decisions made in Iraq. Zuhur also had the impression that el-Sisi supported a gradual move towards pluralism.[85]

Medals and decorations

  • 25 April Decoration (Liberation of Sinai)[14]
  • Distinguished Service Decoration[14]
  • Military Duty Decoration, Second Class[14]
  • Military Duty Decoration, First Class[14]
  • Longevity and Exemplary Medal[14]
  • Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)[14]
  • Kuwait Liberation Medal (Egypt)
  • Silver Jubilee of October War Medal[14]
  • Golden Jubilee of 23 July Revolution[14]
  • Silver Jubilee of the Liberation of Sinai Medal[14]
  • 25 January Revolution Medal[14]
  • Military Courage Decoration
  • The Republic's military Decoration
  • The Training's Decoration
  • The Army's Day Decoration

See also

References

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External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Mohamed Hussein Tantawi
Supreme Commander of the Egyptian Armed Forces
2012–2014
Succeeded by
Sedki Sobhi
Political offices
Preceded by
Mohamed Hussein Tantawi
Minister of Defence
2012–2014
Succeeded by
Sedki Sobhi
Preceded by
Momtaz El-Saeed
Deputy Prime Minister of Egypt
2013–2014
Vacant
Preceded by
Adly Mansour
Acting
President of Egypt
2014–present
Incumbent