Sisi should be a man of the people, not scared of them

One of the problems Hosni Mubarak suffered from during his last years as president was that he let himself be held captive by security and his guards. His security team transformed from a team that aims to protect him into a team restraining him and the president thus became hostage. So, he lived in isolation and while he could see what was going on around him, he became detached from reality. In brief, the president became prisoner of security fears as his own guards turned into jailers wearing kid gloves.

A leader’s worst problem is allowing himself to give in to his security fears. In this case, he closes in on himself and becomes overly concerned for his security without realizing the repercussions. This would make things extremely easy for the guards as they would thus provide the official’s safety by preventing him from moving from one place to another or by at least restraining this activity.

A leader’s worst problem is allowing himself to give in to his security fears

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

One of the points that made me pause and which upset me was that security-related issues would dominate the behavior and life of Egypt’s new president. The phase of the electoral campaign was reason enough for this fear as the then-candidate’s activity was very limited due to security reasons. I was afraid this would be the case in the future especially as there were introductions that the state of fear over the president’s security is of supreme importance. I was thus afraid that Sisi would give up to this security grip which calls on him to plan where he’s going and whom he’s meeting with ahead of time - hours or even days ahead.

The nature of the man

I knew well that this contradicts with the nature of the man who frequently said that his decision is to live among the people and that people must expect to find him among them anytime.

This fear took over me during the last phase, and I said to many people that the best means the president can adopt is to resort to the military style in which the decision to act is taken and implemented at the same moment.

It means the president is the one who decides what he wants to do and that others have to adjust themselves to this. Therefore, the president becomes the leader of his groups, including of his security members, and he doesn’t allow these members to restrain him or isolate him from the people.

What I’ve seen so far is that Sisi resorts to this decision-making style. He was at the hospital visiting the victim of the sexual assault then he led thousands of cyclists. The latter scene did not only convey the intention to unite with the people but it also revealed the intention to get closer to problems.

What I expect in the upcoming phase is that if the president continues to adopt this style and manages to impose it on those around him, we will one day see him at a governmental institution and another at a factory and another at a school. I would like to remind you that Egypt is a lot bigger than Cairo and that Egyptians are not only present in the capital but are present in the entire country. Therefore, I hope the president’s activity in the upcoming phase includes all Egyptians and all Egyptian territories.

This article was first published in al-Masry al-Youm on June 16, 2014.


Abdel Latif el-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of “Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak,” a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy


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