The Egyptian President is in London for a two day visit. Herewith a brief profile.
Name: Abdul Fattah al-Sisi
Born: Cairo, November 1954. He grew up in an affluent, educated family in the Gamaleya district close to the al-Azhar mosque. He is one of 8 children. He is married with 4 children.
Education: Graduated from Egyptian Military Academy in 1977. Received Masters Degree from the US Army War College in Pennsylvania in 2006.
Military: Infantry officer, then rose to become commander of a mechanized division. Information and Security Chief at Ministry of Defence. Military Attaché in Saudi Arabia. In 1992 he trained at the UK’s Joint Services Command and Staff College. Commander Northern Military Zone. Head of Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance – 2011.
Politics: Became Defence Minister in 2012 and so was well positioned to orchestrate the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. During the coup he was involved in the crackdown against Muslim Brotherhood supporters in which hundreds of people were killed. Later launched military campaign against Islamist militants in Sinai. Elected President in June 2014 with 96% of vote.
Religion. Practicing Muslim.
Beliefs: Sisi’s belief system seems to blend his religion with the idea that Egypt requires a strong leader, and that the military is the guarantee of stability. His writings from a decade ago suggest he believes Islam and democracy are compatible. However, he argues that democracy should be introduced incrementally. Corruption and torture remains routine in Egypt under his rule, as it has been under all Egyptian rulers.
Prospects: There are few serious political challenges to his rule as Egypt returns to (essentially) being ruled by the military again. The Sisi years will probably oversee an increasingly authoritarian rule with the courts and media co-opted into supporting his position that the army is required to lead due to the threat from Islamic extremism. The Islamist jihadi moment in the Sinai and elsewhere will continue.
His allies in Saudi Arabia and the USA will continue to prop up an ailing economy, but the Sisi government does not appear capable of embarking on the sort of economic reforms, nor national institute building, required to move the country forward. The same frustrations which led to the overthrow of President Mubarak remain.