Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is No Sissy

October 5, 2015


The Sphinx near the Great Pyramid in Gisa has watched the sun rise and set for over 5,000 years. Pharaoh Queen Cleopatra VII ruled Egypt decades before the birth of Christ.  Descended from Ptolemy, in Alexander the Great’s inner circle, Cleopatra was a foreign policy strategist, and made powerful alliances with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony of the vast Roman Empire.

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, like Cleopatra, is a foreign policy strategist.   He was born in Cairo, graduated from the Egyptian Military Academy, attended the Egyptian Command and Staff College, the British Command and Staff College, and the United States Army War College in Pennsylvania.  Growing up in a quarter where Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived; he heard church bells, and watched Jews go to synagogue unhindered. 

President Obama backed pro Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi.   Morsi was overthrown.  When el-Sisi took office, Obama cancelled Bright Star military exercises with the Egyptian Armed Forces, suspended $1 billion in aid, and embargoed arms deliveries to Egypt.  El-Sisi responded to Obama. “You left the Egyptians.  You turned your back on the Egyptians, and they won’t forget that.”  El-Sisi (and other Middle Eastern leaders) shunned Obama’s invitation to the American-African summit. 

Israel-Egypt relations have improved.  El-Sisi says he talks with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu a lot; and continues support for a two state solution; and continues fighting Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and UAE have given more than $20 Billion to help Egypt since el-Sisi took office.  Egypt participates in the Saudi led military intervention in Yemen. 

Mistral Class helicopter amphibious assault ships purchased by Egypt indicate that el-Sisi plans on becoming more active in the region’s military operations.  Russia was denied delivery of these powerful assault ships built by France, after it invaded the Crimea.  Speculation is that these ships could be used for joint foreign policy interests; such as defending the strategic choke point of Yemen between the Red Sea and the Golf of Aden; which is as vital to the flow of Middle East Oil as the Strait of Hormuz.   If Iran controlled Yemen, the “detour” from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean would be around the continent of Africa. 

Last Christmas el-Sisi became the first President in Egypt’s history to attend Christmas Mass, gave a speech at the Coptic Orthodox Christian Service in Cairo, and wished Christians a Merry Christmas.  He promised that Christian churches that have been destroyed will be rebuilt with government funds. 

At his first anniversary celebration President el-Sisi called for unification of Arabs, and warned “The Egyptian people will never forget who stood with them or against them.”  

Gamal Abd El-Nasser seized power, allowed King Farouk to leave the country, and inaugurated a pan Arabism policy.  By 1956 Egypt was in a position of leadership.  Nasser was popular throughout the Arab world and a hero after he nationalized the Suez Canal. 

Daniel Pipes President of the Middle East Forum analyzed an essay el-Sisi wrote in 2006 while at the U.S. War College.   Pipes posited that el-Sisi would like to see a Middle East Unified Region. It would organize as a region, in the same manner as the European Union.  Although there are many domestic issues which which to deal, this could become one of el-Sisi’s goals. 

Nasser and el-Sisi each envisioned advantages of a united Arab policy.  An important distinction is that Nasser’s main objective was the destruction of Israel.  Regarding Israel, El-Sisi is more like Anwar Sadat; and wants Arab nations to embrace the 40 year peace between Egypt and Israel. 

At the United Nations el-Sisi recently discussed goals with which the savvy Cleopatra would have agreed.  “The Mideast region needs to cooperate to defeat a worsening terrorism; Syria should not be divided after it’s civil war, Egyptian military needs to be augmented to defeat terrorists fighting in the Sinai and the Western Desert, and that efforts should be renewed to solve the Palestinian issue and to expand Egypt’s nearly 40 year peace with Israel to include more Arab countries.”    

Prime Minister Netanyahu responded immediately “The government of Israel welcomes Egyptian President el- Sisi’s call to expand the peace with Israel to include additional Arab countries.  The Prime Minister called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to return immediately to the negotiating table in order to advance the diplomatic process.”   Secretary of State John Kerry asked Mahmoud Abbas to postpone negotiations.

El- Sisi shows willingness to confront growing Islamic terrorism ideologically and militarily.  He advocates a religious revolution to reform Islam to purge Islam of intolerance and violence found in groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.   Iran’s Mullahs fear el-Sisi’s vision, and threaten to destabilize Egypt.  

Congress gave a standing invitation for el-Sisi to address them. The White House has not invited him.  Building an international image, el-Sisi made state visits to more than a dozen countries.  An American Congressional Delegation included Paul Cook, Loretta Sanchez, Steve Stockman, and Cynthia Lummis.  Congressman Dana Rohrabacher visited President el- Sisi.  Speculation is that they discussed Muslim Brotherhood’s role in the Benghazi attack on the American Embassy. 

Ramses II was Pharaoh of Egypt in the 12th century, when a peace accord was signed with the Hittite Empire.  It is recognized as one of the earliest surviving peace accords and a copy of the tablet is at the entrance to the United Nations Security council in New York. 

Perhaps el-Sisi could be the Egyptian Pharaoh that could unite Arab nations, end Islamic terrorism, and bring peace between the Gulf States and Israel.

Copyright ©2015



Darlene Casella was before retirement an English teacher, a stockbroker, and president/owner of a small corporation.  She lives in La Quinta, California and can be reached at darlenecasella @ msn.com