In November 2004, the Kefaya (Enough) movement was formed by Egyptian thinkers, activists and politicians, including George Ishak and Professor Abdel Wahab Al-Messiry. It was a broad political umbrella for persons and entities against the grooming of Gamal Mubarak, the son of the then President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, to inherit the presidency after his father’s death. The potential power bequest was asserted when the one time member of the ruling National Democratic Party, Gamal, was appointed as the head of the party’s policies committee, which was considered to be its highest office. Bequeathing the presidency was among the primary stimuli of the 25 January Revolution in 2011, as the people in Egypt felt that even death would not see them rid of Mubarak’s dictatorship.
Bequeathing power is a characteristic of the Arab republics that their tyrants transformed into sultanate states, where dynasties rule due to “royal” right. This happened in Syria in 2000 after the death of Hafez Al-Assad, with Bashar ready to take office and the state elite acting as a mafia to help their godfather’s son. Yemen, Algeria, Lebanon and Libya all witnessed similar projects of power bequests. Some of them are still in action — as in the case of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, for example, a presidential candidate in Libya, even after the ouster and death of his father, Muammar — but nearly all such projects have tragic endings.
Today, Egypt is seeing another, possibly destructive, power bequest as Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi seeks to hand over to his son, intelligence officer Mahmoud Al-Sisi. Sisi Junior graduated from the military college in 1997 and joined the General Intelligence Service in 2009. His rise through the ranks has been addressed by opposition media outlets which claim that he was promoted “exceptionally” from major to colonel. He was appointed as the head of the professional office of Egypt’s top spy after his father’s friend and office manager, General Abbas Kamel, was chosen as the head of General Intelligence.In 2019, Mada Masr independent news website reported that Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed had advised Al-Sisi to send his son Mahmoud to Russia after he failed to manage the crisis of businessman Mohamed Ali. The latter charged the Egyptian president with corruption and extravagance. After Mada Masr’s report, National Security agents arrested journalist Shady Zalat, attacked the website’s premises in Cairo and arrested all the journalists there before the French authorities intervened to release them all. Accordingly, Sisi Junior’s mission to Moscow was cancelled just as the Covid-19 pandemic became the talk of the hour.
Months later, the Egyptian news website Cairo24, which is said to be an intelligence-sponsored outlet, issued a report on Mahmoud Al-Sisi, hailing his efficiency and refuting the claims about his allegedly unwarranted promotion.
On Monday, Al-Araby Al-Gadid revealed that Sisi Junior was on a secret visit to Tel Aviv at the head of a security mission. The situation in Sinai was on the agenda, as was the amendment required to the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel to maintain security in the peninsula. Senior Egyptian and Israeli intelligence officers also discussed the post-war reconstruction plan for Gaza. This visit said loud and clear that Mahmoud Al-Sisi is not the junior intelligence officer that state-sponsored media attempted to depict him as in 2020. It also said that his father is preparing him for high political office.
In the Arab world, one way to acquire official trust in the West is to establish good relations with Israel. This is what has pushed several Arab countries and individuals to approach Israel at critical moments, as we have seen with Khalifa Haftar in Libya, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan in Sudan and Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi himself, who sought meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to ease US criticism over the appalling human rights situation in Egypt. Sisi Junior’s visit to the occupation state cannot be isolated from this political trend sweeping the Arab world.
When Mubarak was overthrown, his wife Suzanne said that if they wanted to bequeath power to Gamal, they were to make him join the army. This alluded to the fact that no Egyptian president has been a non-military man apart from the only president in the history of Egypt to be elected democratically, freely and fairly, Dr Mohamed Morsi, who was overthrown by a military coup and imprisoned. Sisi Junior enjoyed this condition stipulated by his mother, but this may not be enough for the current presidential succession project. Widespread outrage over such a project could end for Al-Sisi in the same way that it did for Mubarak.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.