Egypt’s former Chief of Staff General Sami Anan’s announcement that he intends to run for president has stirred controversy across Egypt. Military experts think that Anan’s announcement is meant to test Egyptians’ reaction to the possibility of a military figure as president, while observers believe Annan is expressing his own desires.
Anan announced his intention to run for president while visiting tribes in the Matrouh Governorate. He also disclosed his memoirs of the interim period that followed the January revolution. Many political experts and military figures have reacted to Anan’s announcement with condemnation.
Egypt’s armed forces issued a statement warning Egyptians not to be confused by Anan’s efforts or to allow them to impact the armed forces safety and the national security at such a sensitive time. The military spokesman urged the media not to publish Anan’s statements.
Military strategists believe that Anan’s announcement, coming before the adoption of a new constitution that will determine both the government’s and president’s powers, is a trial to test public opinion on the potential candidacy of a military figure.
Executive Director of the International Centre for Strategic Studies General Adel Suleiman suggests that, “discussing the presidential election now is premature. No one can predict Egypt’s political future especially as anti-coup protests have increased.”
Suleiman added that “Anan announced his nomination either as a trial to test public opinion or because he has a personal desire to run.”
Journalist Jamal Sultan agrees with Suleiman, saying that, “Anan’s announcement is a trial following the army’s coup on 3 July and the operation to disperse sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square and Nahda Square”.
Sultan told Al-Jazeera that, “Anan’s declaration is a camouflage to conceal the true candidacy of General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. The army is involved in Egypt’s politics and finds it imperative to have a clear role during the upcoming presidential election.”
Despite the widespread criticism of Anan’s announcement, some actually believe that Anan could, in fact, be the best candidate from the military to run for the office.
Military expert General Abdel Hamid Omran said that, “although Anan’s announcement adds to the political confusion, he is the best candidate as he is rational. His nomination may be the least harmful for Egyptians. He is more prudent and less extreme when compared to others, especially General Al-Sisi.”
Omran told Al-Jazeera that, “if a military figure wants to run, he must keep some distance from the military establishment because that connection would weaken his position.”
Out of Context
Other observers believe that Anan’s announcement is a personal initiative, especially considering that it is still too early to talk about the presidential elections. Any candidate will face a significant issue: following the January revolution and 30 June events and their aftermath, will the Egyptian people want to remain under military control or not? Especially considering the rise of General Al-Sisi as Minister of Defence.
Political analyst General Talat Muslim believes that “Anan’s announcement is out of context with the course of events in Egypt. The circumstances are beyond General Anan. Data show General Al-Sisi to be the most favourable figure for the post.”
Muslim adds that “the problem is not with the identity of the next president, whether he is military figure or a civilian one. The real question is what will this president do to overcome Egypt’s political and economic difficulties? That will be the main test of success or failure.”