General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi

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You are General Abdul-Fattah el Sisi, the President of Egypt. You were also the leader of a coup which ousted former President Mohammad Morsi from office in 2013. According to some, you are a ruthless tyrant who overthrew a legitimately elected government in a bid to restore the military to power. To others, you are a true patriot. You attempted to work with the elected Muslim Brotherhood, but when they began to act in an undemocratic manner, you were forced to remove them from power and assume control. The truth is probably somewhere in between these two statements. Here, we will attempt to understand where between these two extremes your character rests.

Contents

Early Life

You were born in Egypt in 1954. Like many of your peers, you had the misfortune to miss every war. You were too young to serve in the 1967 war, and missed out on serving in the 1973 war by four years. Like many officers of your generation, you have risen through the ranks as an officer who has never seen combat. Instead of a leader praised for your military knowledge, you have ascended through the military bureaucracy on the strength of your fiscal skills, rational problem-solving ability, calm demeanor, and political astuteness. Like many Egyptian officers, you spent a long period of your life in the U.S., studying at American war colleges. This deliberate, long period of study lasted until 2006, when you earned a Masters Degree in Military Science.

In Egypt, you worked under the deposed president Hosni Mubarak in various departments. You served as a diplomat to Saudi Arabia, a Brigade Commander, Division Commander, and an intelligence officer. During the various posts, you created a reputation of competence and professionalism. When Mubarak was ousted, you were a member of the Military Council, which governed the country through its transitional period. This was a difficult period for Egypt. Many Generals on the council became immensely rich by exploiting the near limitless power that they had taken. However, unlike them, you maintained your integrity, and this has earned you a reputation as a man of morals. It has served to distinguish you from the military leadership and has earned you a great deal of admiration among the populace.

With the election of Morsi came your appointment as Minister of Defense. Morsi viewed you as a natural choice. You have a reputation for being a religious man. You have also written that a Middle Eastern democracy should be built on an Islamic foundation. You served under Morsi for the first year he was in office. During this period, you executed your office as he dictated. You served him as you would any other president, and for a period it seemed that an alliance was growing between Morsi and the military.

However, it soon became apparent to you that he would need to be removed. You are a man with a sense for politics. While you have never dabbled in this realm personally, you know a political opportunity when you see one. Morsi's quickly dipping popularity with the Egyptian people presented you and the Military with an opportunity. Morsi began to adopt harder-line Islamist positions, at one point even calling for a holy war on Syria. You are a devout Muslim; however the idea of Jihad raises many red flags for you. Remember, the Egyptian military has spent decades insuring that extremists had little foothold in their country, and here you had your own President endorsing the concept of Jihad. For you, and many Egyptians, Morsi had stepped over the red line which must never be crossed. Morsi had also begun to adopt an autocratic disposition to power. In Egypt, like the U.S., the courts serve as a check against the powers of the executive branch. Morsi stated that the courts did not have the power to check his actions. His Muslim Brotherhood party also pushed through a very unpopular constitution, with little respect for the wishes of the people.

On June 28th, the first of many public demonstrations against the President erupted across Egypt. You and the military did not act right away; you waited and allowed the general opinion of Egyptians to be demonstrated. You allowed the people of Egypt to submit 22 million signatures, all calling for Morsi to step down. Then, when the nation had been paralyzed by protests, you stepped in and removed Morsi from power. The military now was not framed as a power grab, but as a restoration of order. You were merely carrying out the will of the people and restoring order to the streets. This is a very important point because it will color all of your future actions. The military is only acting to restore order and democracy. Order and democracy which were upset by the brash actions of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Crisis and Conflict

The actions of the Muslim Brotherhood and your removal of the President from power served to kick off protests throughout Egypt. The protests crippled Egyptian businesses. Your response to these protests was swift and brutal. Riot police used a mix of non-lethal and lethal weaponry to clear the streets, and you ordered the systematic arrest of Brotherhood leadership. You said that you viewed the Muslim Brotherhood as a group attempting to seize control of Egypt, stating "our self-restraint will not continue. We will not accept any more attacks. We will meet with full force. Attackers want to destroy Egypt." You proved that you were willing to use your power to prevent that. As of September 2013, two thousand protestors and civilians had been killed.

One should not view your use of violence in a vacuum. The brotherhood protests have included violent aspects. Several churches and synagogues were attacked, and a military convoy was ambushed killing 25 soldiers. Tourism, the life-blood of the Egyptian economy, dried up. With the ongoing protests, westerners are not coming to spend their money. The Egyptian economy is sustaining real damage from the protests. Many Egyptians support your hard stance on the Brotherhood. While Egyptians are a conservative and religious people, they also believe in secular government. The actions of Morsi were deeply troubling to the majority of Egyptians. The protests have also been disruptive to the lives of many Egyptians. The average Egyptian wants to see a return to normalcy, even if this means the use of violence.

You are the type of man who takes advantage of this tacit support and acts in the most direct path towards achieving your goals. With the Brotherhood unpopular, you took actions to jail key members of its leadership. By doing this, you insured that it would become a less organized force in Egypt. You also sought to return normalcy to the streets of Egypt. The Brotherhood had erected numerous encampments within Cairo, blocking major roads. You utilized the police to evict the protesters by force. In a prolonged policing action that spanned several weeks, more than 800 civilians, protesters, and police were killed. But, the streets were cleared.

Your actions drew sharp criticism from the West, with many claiming that you cannot use violence as a be all and end all tool. While you will not shy away from its use, you understand that there are drawbacks that accompany its use. Firstly, a cutting of aid from the United States. The U.S. supplies billions of dollars to your military. If Americans begin to feel that you were acting autocratically, then they may cut that military aid. While this would not be a crippling blow, it would certainly be damaging, and might threaten your standing with the other generals, on whom you rely for your position. The crisis with the Muslim Brotherhood has also created a question of legitimacy. You claim that Morsi was an autocrat because he forced an unpopular constitution upon the people and did not recognize the institution of the Court. However, he was freely and fairly elected. The same cannot be said of your government. In the 2014 presidential election, the first since you assumed power, you won with 96% of the vote, after several of your opponent’s supporters were arrested. While you view it as important that you maintain order over Egypt, you must remember that you have the eye of more than Egypt upon you. You must take steps to maintain order and stability without falling into the same trap which Morsi did. You must maintain the support of the majority of Egyptians and not alienate Western support. This means that your government must couch its actions in a language of democratic reform. Whatever you do must be made to look like a step towards a real democracy that Egyptians desire.

Crisis in Gaza

The 2014 crisis in Gaza has presented your Government with both opportunities and hurdles. You were presented with a chance to demonstrate the moderate nature of your government, strengthen ties with the Palestinian Authority, and gain much-needed respect as a regional power. While there was much to gain, there was also much at risk. An incorrect settlement may have resulted in a strengthened and emboldened Hamas. This is not something that you would desire, as it would threaten to re-ignite sectarian tensions in Egypt. Inaction was an option that you felt you could not risk. Your population is fiercely Pro-Palestinian. To allow the populace of Gaza to go on suffering, without action, would have been to invite demonstrators to fill the street. So, you took a careful approach to the conflict. You grabbed the negotiations by the horns on your terms. You provided a safe sight for negotiations and minimized Hamas's presence by insisting that the PA negotiate for the Palestinians. When your first attempt failed, you continued to press for a cease-fire. Hamas's rejection of the agreement made them lose credibility and allowed the PA to slip into their spot at the table. After several weeks of negotiations, you were able to get both sides to agree to a ceasefire.

In the current climate, you recognize that you must maintain your position as one of the leading peace makers in the conflict. To do so will require you to maintain a leading role. Remember, while peace is the end goal, it must be the right type of peace. You would like to insure that the peace weakens Hamas and strengthens the secular PA. The peace must also be acceptable to your people. If they see it as an attempt to buy closer ties with Western nations and Israel, they will take to the streets. You need a "Good Peace." This means that it must be truly beneficial for Palestinians and Egyptians.

Goals

You believe that the Muslim Brotherhood cannot be allowed to exert unchecked power over the Egyptian people. However, you also recognize that the complete destruction of the Brotherhood is impossible. While you are willing to use violence in order to restore order, you also understand that there will be repercussions for such actions. The Western nations are watching your actions with unease. The United States is very uncomfortable with the idea of continuing military aid to a nation which is killing so many citizens, even if they are Muslim Brotherhood members. While the Muslim Brotherhoods violent actions against Christians bought you the room you needed to ban and arrest them, that room will run out.

Your immediate goal is to restore order to Egypt. The premier primary reason Morsi was ousted from power was his inability to better the economic position of Egypt. Your primary goal is to get Egypt back on stable and profitable economic footing. For this reason, you should consider reaching out to other Gulf nations who share a dislike of the Muslim Brotherhood, and who have been willing to chip in billions to prop up the Egyptian economy. This is in addition to a recent IMF loan, one of whose conditions was the devaluation of the Egyptian pound, which subsequently has lost half of its value, making life much harder for the average Egyptian. Egypt should be seen as making political in roads with all those who can assist it, and as an example of this, you were the first foreign leader to call with congratulations to Donald Trump following his presidential victory.

Your successful election proved that Egypt's democracy does work. You must be sure that your nation's actions do not threaten that election. The Muslim Brotherhood over-reached its mandate, and . yYou must be sure that you do not do the same. Egyptians know where Tahrir Square is, should you act too strongly, it is most likely that Egyptians will return to the street, as they did following your unilateral decision to cede two islands off the coast of Sinai to Saudi Arabia..

Foreign affairs are always a problem in Egypt. While you attempt to stabilize your nation, you must not undermine your position with foreign backers, both those from the wealthy Gulf states and from the US, who after the Arab Spring desire above all else a consistent partner devoted to regional stability. With this in mind, the defeat of ISIS has become a priority, particularly since the bombing of a Russian commercial air liner in 2015, for which an ISIS affiliate in the Sinai took credit. You must take care to minimize casualties at riots. You must also make Egypt appear as a positive influence in the Arab-Israeli conflict. If nations believe that supporting you will help them get what they want in other arenas, they may be willing to tolerate greater indiscretions by you at home. The Military has good relations with the Palestinians and is not viewed by the Israelis as an enemy. You should make use of this by aiding in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and building up a good will with foreign nations.

Lastly, you must maintain the support of the Egyptian people. Currently, you are despised by the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters, but the rest of Egypt is willing to allow you to proceed. The Brotherhood is weakened and in hiding. However, there will be a point where the bodies of the dead begin to sway their thinking about the cost of your idea of stability. You must find a way to end the protests, without alienating the majority of Egyptians. You must also accomplish this without it appearing that you intend to hang onto power.

Ahead of you lay many difficult challenges. You must handle each calmly and effectively. Remember, you have the most powerful institution in Egypt behind you. However, if you over-reach, the populous could pull its support from you. You are a pragmatic man who believes in negotiated settlements. You must find a way to defuse the bomb that is Egypt. Do not discount any options without thorough and unbiased consideration.

Tools and Methods

The President has the highest profile of any Egyptian politician. His actions and statements will draw the most attention of any Egyptian politician. For this reason he must also be the most careful of any Egyptian politician. The other members of the Egyptian delegation will perform duties which should make this easier. The Foreign Minister will attempt to determine how other nations will react to Egyptian policies and the Foreign Minister will attempt to drum up international and public support.

The President must be ready to use all forms of communication. As President, a state visit to Ramallah to demonstrate support may require an action form. The President my need to respond to a newspaper report that challenges one of his actions. Or he might be required to request aid from another head of state via a communique. The President is expected to be a jack of all trades. He is expected to bring to bear the power of his office whenever it is most beneficial.

This also has its own problems. Because the actions of a President are watched so carefully, an ill-timed statement may have severely detrimental outcomes. The President must make sure that his actions are well planned out and well reasoned. Former President Morsi acted too brashly. He did not test the ground before he jumped. This resulted in you ousting him from power. For this reason, it is critical that you utilize your teammates to carefully test the ground ahead of you. Will this always be possible? No, sometimes action is required quickly. However, when time permits, you should utilize the expertise of your teammates to create a cohesive strategy for your government. Failure to do so will likely result in a new opening in the position of President.

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