“Beware, beware. This issue is happening again; beware Egyptians, of causing the ruin of your country once again. I will repeat that this happened when the country was destroyed in 2011.” This is what Abdel Fattah Sisi said during his latest speech at the celebration of “Martyr’s Day”, Thursday, March 9, 2023, referring to his convictions about the Revolution of January 25 and the “terrorist plot”. This wasn’t the first time that Sisi attacked the January revolution and held it responsible for any major crisis facing the country (And without the Revolution of January 25, he would not be in power).
The first time that Sisi described the revolution as a conspiracy was in September 2019 during his intervention at the Eighth Youth Congress, as he held it responsible for what he called “an attempt to overthrow the state”, confusing the political system and the state in general, saying: “In 2011, the conspiracy was against the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense, because they are the most important institutions that protect the state from falling into the hands of these forces.” Immediately after that, in October 2019, during his speech at the Al-Manara Center in front of a military crowd, he again held the January Revolution responsible for failing to reach a binding agreement for Ethiopia regarding the Renaissance Dam.
2011 once again
All these warnings and threats, based on what he declared a year ago from now during the inauguration of the “Kima Aswan” factory, as he said: “I will not forget 2011, and you Egyptians are supposed not to forget it also.” In the last speech, Sis began his impromptu speech, and as he described it, he chose to “talk about his feelings instead of reading the speech.” He said:” Whatever the difficulties and difficult circumstances, nothing is permanent. There is a price. We paid the price of what happened.” By this, Sisi means the financial cost of his war on terrorism and the cost of lives.
Previously, Sisi mentioned January at intervals when he warned of his obsession with the “fall of the state”, but this matter has been reported recently. He has repeatedly warned of this obsession during the past few months, in the wake of the severe economic crisis that the country is going through due to a shortage of foreign exchange and an unprecedented drop in the exchange rate. The local currency against the dollar with inflation rates is the highest ever, and he and his government do not want to admit responsibility for it or bear the consequences and change the economic policies, which caused widespread popular discontent against him, as Sisi himself has recently recognized that he risked his popularity for these policies. Al-Sisi does not see this crushing economic crisis as a justification for demonstrations against his rule and his government because this will lead him to the country’s fall, like other countries in the region.
Begging for Israelis
Al-Sisi described himself as an “eyewitness” and began to narrate facts in his way. He said that this speech was not only for “good” Egyptians (referring to his supporters) but also for “bad Egyptians” (referring to his opponents). In his speech, he was referring to a meeting when he was a vice director of Intelligence, working for Murad Mowafi, with Major General Hassan Abd al-Rahman, head of the State Security Agency at the time: “we were discussing the situation, so we saw that within seven years a huge structure had been formed in North Sinai, consisting of weapons, ammunition and explosives stores, as well as the purpose of control.” Then Sisi made another confusion, comparing terrorist presence in Sinai with events in Egyptian universities, saying: “If you went back to social media in 2008 and 2009, you would see that there were films of them while they were making shows as if they were outside the law, and the subject at the time was that there was a big problem in Sinai”.
In this speech, Sisi tried to create a link between the stores of weapons and ammunition and armed groups gathering in Sinai, and a “military parade” by Muslim Brotherhood students at Al-Azhar University in 2006, as there were protests at the university against the arrest and dismissal of a number of their colleagues and security restrictions on them, During which the students confused the sit-in with other orientations of the group regarding the Palestinian cause, as 50 students wore masks similar to what the Palestinian resistance war against Israel.
Sisi talked another time about Sinai and said, “the groups formed in Sinai over the years before 2008, 2007, 2006, and maybe 2005 need great military effort and action, not only police presence. This didn’t happen, and there are agreements. The army is online (A). Still, the conspiracy was revealed in its full dimensions in 2011 because while the people were busy in Tahrir Square, there was sabotage against the State in Sinai, as a legal mandate and judiciary were created, as they said in their language. (Wilayat Sinai, affiliated with the terrorist organisation ISIS, was formed in November 2014, not in 2011, as stated by Sisi).
In the next paragraph, a rare mention of Israel appears in Sisi’s speech. He clearly announced the details of his communication with the Israelis to allow the entry of military forces into Al-Arish, Rafah, and Sheikh Zuwayed. Sisi previously said these words in an interview with the American CBS channel, which was broadcast by the channel despite Cairo’s demands to prevent it because “this confession may stir up sensitivities.” This recognition comes this time in light of the economic crisis that Cairo is going through and represents a threat to the new regime. This was not frank with the Egyptians, but a clear message to the Israelis.
The Egyptian regime suffers from the neglect of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in providing economic aid to Egypt, as they are pressuring Sisi and his government to carry out fundamental economic reforms, which the UAE recently joined in statements made by Jamal Saif Al-Jarwan, Secretary-General of the Emirates Council for Investments Abroad, as he said: “The UAE wants to increase investments in Cairo, but it is closely monitoring the privatisation efforts in Egypt (…) The army has acted as a private sector for many years to support the economy, and it is time to make way for the next wave of capitalism.” The Gulf wants to define the role of the Egyptian army in the economy and its exit from it to pump foreign exchange. At the same time, Sisi sees the army’s projects as the guarantor of the army’s continued preservation of the state. His previous attempts failed to persuade the Gulf states, led by the Emirates, to which he travelled specifically last month to say these same justifications. As it is clear, this last speech of Sisi aims to warn of the impact of a new revolution in Egypt against his rule in Israel, which enjoys strong relations with the Gulf states, particularly with the Emirates, and can pressure them in his favour.
Scare the Egyptians
Sisi usually links what was happening in Sinai with the January revolution as the conspiracy that created this terrorism, despite the fact that the revolution itself was against the deterioration of the country’s conditions in various economic, political and military fields and among the results of this deterioration was what happened in Sinai itself! The second part of Sisi’s last speech was directed at the Egyptians, arousing terror in their hearts at what happened in Sinai during the war on terror, expressing that: “By God, if we weren’t merciful, I can show you one movie on what they were doing in Sinai, and by God Almighty, I swear to God, I am afraid that all Egyptians would not sleep if it were broadcast.”
In his speech to the Egyptians, Sisi claimed he did not choose to mobilise public opinion behind him, only during the war on terrorism. Although this happened and is still evidenced by Sisi’s speech throughout his speech, he made his own formula and said: “We chose the second path in which our children were fighting. And there was another battle here. Praise be to God. We can say that the mission has been accomplished.” However, Al-Sisi reintroduced the danger in his speech after announcing his achievement of ending the war on terror. He talked about an alleged cross-border terrorist operation after announcing the end of the war on terror (the operation that Sisi referred to was the army’s clashes with drug smugglers, not terrorists, on March 1), continuing.
“They are operating to confirm that we are still there.” Then Sisi touched on talking about weapons, saying that the media usually narrates his speech on this point, but he indicated that the media would not be able to delete his sentence this time: “Let the weapon be awake.” (a reference to a patriotic song) He also said: “We spent every month at least one billion pounds for 90 months,” referring to the cost of the “war on terror” over the past years, implying that the expenditures on that war partly caused the economic crisis: “Why am I saying that? Because we are all affected by the situation, we are human beings, but I want to tell them that a great price has been paid, other than the blood of the martyrs and the person injured.” He demanded: “We want to be more solid, more than that? Yes, why? Because the challenges ahead of us are many, and they will not end.” He repeated his warning against the January revolution as he announced the creation of an exhibition of terrorism and explained: “We will create an exhibition for this war. We will show you what remains, but they are a lot, such as weapons, ammunition, communication devices, and war equipment,” about his desire to show this “fierce war.”
“We will show you pictures by the name of all those who were criminals there, the name and the picture, the name and the picture, for each of the criminals. Beware of this problem being repeated. Be aware, Egyptians, this happened when the country was dismantled in 2011. Teach this subject in schools, in the media and colleges. This is an essential matter that destroys countries from within.” Al-Sisi repeated his message, refusing to evaluate his and the government’s performance in the economic crisis.
Finally, the speech concluded with a promise for the Egyptians that this price would be in return for the birth of a state that “their children and their children’s children can be proud of, God willing.” But Sisi did not clarify whether he was talking about the current state, as he didn’t