Al-Sisi’s passive revolution: Shafik and Mubarak’s sons in cages again

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The Egyptian regime, led by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is leading a new coup against so-called allies of yesterday, led by former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, and the two sons of the late President Hosni Mubarak.

Observers say that this coup is not being carried out by al-Sisi alone, but also by his loyal men against their rivals, or their comrades who were supporting al-Sisi in the beginning, because of misconceptions that he would lead them to a civil democratic state. Observers point to the campaign of defamation waged by pro-regime Egyptian newspapers against the Egyptian journalist Doaa Khalifa, a member of the Tamarod (insurgence) movement and the campaign coordinator of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the Dakahlia governorate.

Ambiguous timing

The new coup returned the former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik to court again, for a case in which he was acquitted seven years ago. Simultaneously, the prosecution began investigating a new corruption case for Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, the late Hosni Mubarak’s sons. According to observers, other intentions and goals of al-Sisi, behind these measures, may include cutting any possibility that Shafik or either of Mubarak’s two sons are elected in the upcoming presidential elections. Al-Sisi’s regime started this campaign in light of his low popularity among the Egyptians.

Shafik returns to the courts

The beginning was an announcement by the Appeals Court that they would retry Shafik on September 5. The decision came after accepting the Public Prosecutor Office’s appeal against his innocence and two former leaders of the Ministry of Civil Aviation in a case of financial corruption in the ministry and facilitating public money seizure, dating back to 2012.

The exciting thing is that the acquittal ruling was issued in April 2013, and the prosecution appealed it. Still, this appeal was not considered until seven years later because the Court of Cassation decided to retry Shafik. Shafik was Minister of Aviation during the Mubarak era before the latter appointed him as prime minister during the January 2011 revolution. However, this appointment did not succeed in thwarting the revolution, but rather it accelerated Mubarak’s forced resignation from power.

After the revolution, Shafik was referred to trial in three cases. In two he was acquitted (in absentia) when he travelled outside the country and did not attend the court sessions. Shafik ran in the first democratic elections in the country after the January revolution and reached the second round before losing to the late President Mohamed Morsi, who took power for one year before his defence minister (al-Sisi) turned on him on July 3 2013. Although Shafik was one of the campaign’s icons paving the way to overthrow Morsi, he was forced to leave the country after that, as he settled in the Emirates.

From the UAE, he announced his intention to compete with al-Sisi for the presidency before returning to Egypt or being returned to it in mysterious circumstances, followed by silence. Concurrently, the Ministry of Justice’s graft agency began an investigation into a vast corruption file involving Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal. The corruption that is being investigated in this file is a thorny one related to the “Tenth of Ramadan Construction” company, an Egyptian joint-stock company. This company is one of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Communities Development companies, with the contribution of the Arab Contractors Company and the Housing and Development Bank, and it is 100 per cent pure public money of the Egyptian state.

Mubarak’s family

The file indicates the Mubarak family’s involvement and former ministers in the file, the profit of $16 million, and the waste of millions more. It also reveals the existence of a three-way business that brought together Suzanne Thabet, Mubarak’s wife, with tycoons and former housing ministers, Mohamed Ibrahim Suleiman and Ahmed al-Maghribi. The documents investigated in the file were attached to an official report of the public prosecutor and the Illicit Profit Authority years ago, but the investigation began recently.

According to the Egyptian lawyer Farid el-Deeb, the head of the defence committee of Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, neither of them has been summoned to investigate the case. El-Deeb confirmed that Mubarak’s family’s graft file had not been investigated by summoning any of the defendants (yet). He continued, “So far, the investigative judges are in the stage of examination and inquiry from the investigation bodies and the information questionnaire.” For his part, writer and political analyst Selim Azouz considered the matter “surprising.” In explaining these steps, Azouz said that the matter might be a message to al-Sisi’s team, not his opponents. He said that al-Sisi is in crisis, so he is thinking of potential rivals from within his team, and is trying to close the road ahead of them early.

Doaa Khalifa

The controversy sparked by the Egyptian journalist Doaa Khalifa was not less than the questions raised by the Shafik trial. Doaa Khalifa appeared for the first time as a member of the Tamarod Movement, which was opposed to the rule of former President Mohamed Morsi, and gathered signatures calling for his ouster, less than one year after his democratic election. After the army coup against Morsi, Doaa worked as a campaign coordinator for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the Dakahlia Governorate, then as a journalist for the Egyptian newspaper al-Dostour.

Doaa sparked a storm of controversy in the Egyptian political and media centre recently after she launched an attack on Colonel Ahmed Shaaban, the media official of the president. Shaaban is considered the right arm of Abbas Kamel, director of the Egyptian General Intelligence, and observers say he is the de facto controller over the newspapers and channels that broadcast from inside Egypt. In a video clip she posted on social media, Doaa accused Colonel Shaaban of blackmailing and threatening her.

Doaa said in the video, “The first channel on the Egyptian state television says about me that I am a notorious woman, and that is to please the owner of the high position and CEO of Egypt [Ahmed Shaaban].” She indicated that she had complained to the president about him. Because of the videos she published, Doaa Khalifa was attacked by journalists loyal to the Egyptian regime, such as Khaled Salah, the editor-in-chief of Al-Youm 7 daily, who accused her of “seeking to create political grievance and running behind positions without real qualifications.” Later, Doaa deleted that video and appeared in another video, in which she said that her Facebook page was hacked and that the video was fabricated.

Egyptian activists said that Doaa was subjected to tremendous pressure and feared for her life and safety. She immediately did so, hoping that she would escape from the oppression of the regime which she was a part of it. Opponents mocked the humiliating retreat of Doaa, expecting that the last video had been filmed in a National Security headquarters under torture. Some of them launched a hashtag under the title Freedom to Doaa Khalifa, indicating that she may have become a political prisoner.

Multiple coups

Politicians say that the Egyptian regime has established the theory of the coup and the arrest of those who disagree, not dialogue or reaching points of agreement, or even granting freedom of criticism. The Egyptian regime views any voice opposing it as an enemy and traitor and seeks to overthrow the regime, and seeks to arrest, silence, and distort it. During the past years, the regime has become hostile against several people who were among its loyal men or allies, which is what observers describe as the succession of coups carried out by the regime, even against its former partners.