The Sisi leaks: A lesson for the revolution

The Sisi leaks: A lesson for the revolution
Comment: The recent leaks from the Egyptian president's office gives an insight into the country's authoritarianism and the relative weakness of the revolution.
5 min read
09 Mar, 2015
The regime's image is eroding, along with its populist veneer [AFP]

Abbas Kamil was the director of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's office when he was defence minister, and was promoted along with his boss - who is now the president of Egypt. And he is a treasure trove of information.

In any normal society, he would have been a priceless catch for historians and journalists alike.

The recent leaks from Sisi's office shed light on major political scandals that could have been expected to rock the entire government and society. Not only did the scandals involve financial and political corruption, they also contained proof of a conspiracy with foreign actors to stage a coup against an elected administration.

But since the current administration in Egypt is not a democratic regime - rather, a regime led by those who staged a coup against democracy - it is unlikely that this factor would give it reason to pause.

Yet its image is quickly eroding, along with its demagogic and populist veneer. The regime is going to have to rely increasingly on brute force, unless it can somehow attain major economic and social achievements - an unlikely turn of events - if it is to dissuade people from demanding the rule of law, greater freedoms and respect for human rights.

The regime is going to have to rely increasingly on brute force.

Previously, we were assessing and analysing.

People had the right to accept or reject our conclusions, because no matter how rational they might be, they remained the product of analysis.

But the irrational quest for power - and the arrogance of such a quest - has ended up corroborating our rational analysis and the inferences drawn from it. It has reinforced the idea that when rational analysis is coupled with access to facts and knowledge of the actors and interests at play, and all the dots are appropriately connected, then it is possible to probe the political secrets that have been temporarily hidden from the public eye.

The road to counter-revolution

Indeed, these are not indecipherable runes. The new leaks have provided incontrovertible evidence to vindicate our analysis against a backdrop of hate-mongering hysteria.

For the benefit of the reader, let us recapitulate:

  • The first ever democratically elected president of Egypt did not actually govern. Rather, it was the apparatus of the state itself, including the army and the intelligence agencies, that were in charge. It proved impossible to confront them and force them to bow down to democracy - or to replace them, due to the lack of unity among the forces of the revolution and the waning spirit of 25 January. In short, the revolution had to seize power but could not because of the disunity of revolutionary forces.


  • The chaos during the transitional period was the result of the state refusing to cooperate with the elected administration. Some of this chaos was engineered.

  • Foreign countries were providing financial support to activities against the elected administration.

  • The Egyptian top brass changed their collective mind after the dismissal of Husain Tantawi and Sami Anan and decided to try and take power in full. They were no longer content with the historic deal that gave them independence and maintained their privileges under an elected civilian administration; they wanted a return to full power. Meanwhile, the elected government did not press ahead with the measures they had started vis-a-vis the army, seeking once again to conclude a deal with its leaders.

  • The justice system was used by the state as an instrument to undermine elected institutions, including parliament and the presidency, and to hinder the democratic transition. For this reason, it was crucial to reform the judiciary before accepting it as an arbiter, and it was crucial to establish institutions to oversee transitional justice.

  • The media, dominated by capital, was governed as much by political interests as by short-term profit. In coordination with the security establishment, the media played a major role in turning legitimate discontent with the elected administration into a farce, mobilising the incitement dictated by a genuine counter-revolution.

  • Segments of the population who were rightfully resentful of the government, and who had legitimate criticisms, took part in the protests alongside forces that were hurt by the revolution because of their affiliation to the previous regime. But it was the military and security leadership who took the initiative, with the army ultimately carrying out a coup.

None of this negates the fact that mistakes were made - by the government led by the Muslim Brotherhood, by the revolutionary youths and by those who first participated in the revolution who then allied themselves to the leaders of the coup.

But the initiative lay with the establishment, with the top brass, backed by the justice system, the media and capital, along with regional allies opposed to democratic transition in the Arab region.

Confronting all these forces would not have been possible without unity in the ranks of the forces of change in Egypt. But those forces chose rivalry over unity, even as the counter-revolutionary forces were closing ranks.

The regime is not going to learn the right lessons. It will only learn that it must prevent leaks in the future.

The regime is not going to learn the right lessons. It will only learn that it must prevent leaks in the future, and that it must be more brazen when lies no longer work in the face of the evidence.

It is the revolutionary youths, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the political forces that were calling for change and allied themselves with the coup against their opponents, who should learn the right lessons.

And when they have studied their mistakes, they will have to ask yet more questions.

How do we deal with those sections of the public - and I don't know how big, exactly, they are - that yearn for stability and are not so concerned with the lies, the bribery, the contacts with foreign entities?

How do we deal with those sections of the public that are easily mobilised by rumours and accusations against an elected president of contacting foreign governments, when his job is to contact foreign governments, all while his subordinates conspire with foreign governments to stage a coup against him?

Answering these questions requires careful thought, and a serious discussion regarding the need to educate people on the values of citizenship and democracy.

No political force can use the instruments of democracy for its own benefit without working at the same time to educate the public about it.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic website.