“I came to the conclusion that the army took advantage of the revolution to get rid of Mr Mubarak’s scheme of succession - maybe also that they had to sacrifice Mubarak, rather than the regime itself.”
Saturday, February 07, 2015
Egypt’s new strongman drew up a blueprint for the army to seize power in case of a revolution against ex-president Hosni Mubarak as long ago as 2010, senior advisers have revealed.
The advisers have told The Telegraph he had already been identified by the army’s top brass before the 2011 revolution as its coming man, at a time when splits were growing between the military and the family of the 82-year-old Mr Mubarak.
In late 2010, when the then General Sisi was head of military intelligence, he was asked by his then bosses, who had already decided he should be the next minister of defence under any political settlement, to prepare a study of Egypt's political future.
He predicted that Mr Mubarak would try to pass on the country’s leadership to his son, Gamal, possibly as early as the following May, and that this could cause popular unrest. The report recommended the army should be prepared to move in to ensure stability - and preserve its own central role in the state.
As it turned out, events moved faster than anyone expected, with the uprising in Tunisia triggering street protests in Cairo in January 2011. Within a week, the army had enacted the plan Mr Sisi recommended, putting troops on the streets and saying it stood with the Egyptian people - making clear that Mr Mubarak and his sons were expendable, but the army was not.
Mr Mubarak was duly forced to resign on February 11.
The revelations about the army’s role at the time of his downfall are causing many of the revolutionaries to question whether the Tahrir Square protests brought down anything more than the figurehead of the old regime.
“When the revolution of January 25 exploded, the army already had plans to deploy,” said Hassan Nafaa, a prominent political scientist who was briefed personally on his report by the then General Sisi.
Mr Sisi was seen as Mr Morsi’s choice because of his well-documented religious piety. No Brotherhood supporter could have risen so high in the army, but a thesis that Mr Sisi wrote in 2006 while on secondment to the US War College contained strongly Islamist themes, arguing that the ideal state was a pan-Islamic Caliphate, rather than a Western-style democracy.
Hassan Nafaa wondered whether Mr Sisi realised that the revolution had given people, particularly the young, a voice that they would not now give up. Mr Sisi would be mistaken if he thought that he could simply restore an unquestioned old-style regime.
“If he doesn’t take this into consideration, he isn’t convinced that Egypt has absolutely changed - that it will never be the same as it was before - he will fail,” said Mr Nafaa.