The Patrimony

In politics, everything is relatives

Tag: Egypt

A Gaddafi renaissance?

by fpman

With former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s family now “scattered around the Middle East from Egypt to Oman,” and two of his sons in jail in Libya, there is a sensible attempt to regain some lost initiative on their behalf by one of Muammar Gaddafi’s cousins, Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam. “Gaddafi cousin hopes to participate in Libyan peace talks,” says a Reuters headline from two days ago, and this being a Reuters headline it may just be that this is not a bridge too far.

Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam, cousin of Libya's former president Muammar Gaddafi, talks during an interview with Reuters at his apartment in CairoAhmed Gaddaf al-Dam (photo: Asmaa Waguih, Reuters)

Post-Gaddafi Libya may need a Gaddafi, apparently. Militias are fighting each other, feuding for control of chunks of territory – the luckier ones feuding also for a share in oil revenues to be made utilizing the part of the infrastructure that is still intact after so much turmoil.

Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam is one of those members of the Gaddafi family who opted to stay as close to these chaotic events in Libya as possible: in Egypt. This brought arrest for him under former Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi’s rule. The reasons are rather simple, in the end: Morsi’s was an Islamist regime that took power democratically, in the wake of the rule of a secular autocracy not altogether too dissimilar to Gaddafi’s (though Gaddafi’s relationship to Islam was to no small degree more complicated). So in broader regional terms Morsi was a new kid on the block, while Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam was from the old guard. Clash inevitable. As soon as Morsi was removed from power, however, Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam was once again unrestricted, or perhaps even encouraged, in his political activity.

On September 24, the General Court of the European Court of Justice struck down sanctions still in place against him, and a day before that Asharq al-Awsat began publishing a series of articles on him, the first part of which focused on what a great mediator he was in the Egyptian-Libyan disputes of the 1970s…

He may well be telling himself “Ready, Steady, Go” now, and he is doing so with some wind in his sails. How far that allows him to move in the quicksand of Libya… alright, I’ll just stop using cheap metaphors. We shall see, shall suffice, in the end.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and “le piston de la famille”

by fpman

No worries (I know you were terribly worried, weren’t you) – posting with titles in French has not become a completely entrenched habit here at the Patrimony, but after our previous post it is once again fitting…

This Tunisian news site has broken news in the Francophone netiverse two days ago of a tweet by someone (I know, that is a very specific reference) of a photo of Medhat al-Sisi, current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s brother. I could not find the photo in question but reportedly Medhat al-Sisi can be seen there in the attire of a garçon d’hôtel, and apparently he really is working in a hotel, accordingly.

His brother, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, now elected President of the country, does not gift his family members a luxurious life upon the good fortune of landing in the top position – that seems to be the message.

A commenter happily concludes:

“Ce n’est pas tout le monde qui veut beneficier du ”piston” de la famille.”

Meaning: not everyone looks to benefit from the string-pulling of the family. A cynical reaction to this claim is not entirely warranted. Yes, the above piece of news may be strategically used to further legitimization of the current Egyptian political system that is in place in the wake of the bloody events of last summer. Yet President al-Sisi is where he is partly because he himself and his family are credited (note that indeed this is a kind of capital in the context we are speaking about) with being deeply, some would say devoutly, religious and coming from the ordinary background of Cairo’s Gamaleya neighborhood. Whilst the Army was involved in “cohabitation” with the Muslim Brotherhood government (which it eventually removed from power), al-Sisi was named Commander-in-Chief and Minister of Defence by then-President Mohammed Morsi with reference to this – because he seemed like a choice particularly compatible with the Brotherhood’s spirit and rule. Or at least he could be presented as such.

As a Newsweek profile of him describes his relation to his family:

“Unlike the country’s erstwhile strongman Hosni Mubarak, whose wife and family were well known to the Egyptians, al-Sisi has been protective of the privacy of his kin. According to his older brother, Ahmed al-Sisi, who only reluctantly agreed to talk, the general has four children: three sons and one daughter. His wife is said to wear a traditional head covering, the hijab, but, unlike the women of the previous generation, these days most Egyptian women do. Like his wife, the general’s five sisters don’t have jobs outside the home. “Our girls don’t work, they stay home and raise the kids,” says Ahmed.”

Reportedly, even while he spent time in the US studying at the US Army War College, his wife was wearing the hijab.

All this modesty and social conformity of course doesn’t stop the current Egyptian regime from creating for him the by now usual cult of personality (framing him as a saint), with a larger-than-life image of his implanted in Egyptians’ minds. It doesn’t mean that he is a poor person, either. And Medhat is not really the only brother to look out for: “(Abdel Fattah) al-Sisi was born … the second of eight siblings … his father later had another six children with a second wife,” as this report tells us.

SisiCultThat “S” in between portraits of the President stands not for (hotel) “Servant”  (photo source: AFP)