The new Egyptian boss: Worse than the old boss?July 30, 2013
Robert Springborg, writing for the journal Foreign Affairs, digs into the background of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and finds a potentially toxic mix of Islamicism, militarism and populism. Focusing mainly on a thesis that Sisi wrote while studying at the US Army War College, Springborg finds evidence that Sisi likely has low regard for Western-style democracy and perhaps little regard for any type of democracy at all. Of particular interest is Sisi’s claim that Middle Eastern politics can only be understood in relation to El Kalafa – the caliphate; the high point of Islam during which it dominated the world from Gibraltar to India. The re-establishment of the caliphate, writes Sisi, “is widely recognized as the goal for any new form of government” in the region.
An Islamicized Egyptian political system is bad enough; a thoroughly militarized one led by an engaging populist who sees the re-establishment of a wide and unified caliphate is the sort of thing that can only add more fuel to Western fears of Islamism. Of course, I now need to point out that four of the ten largest standing militaries in the world are controlled by Islamist or near-Islamist regimes: Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and now Egypt. All four of them are much larger than the largest militaries in Europe.