Cairo – Between support, skepticism, and preconditions, the interaction of political and societal forces appears with the initiative of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi calling for “a national political dialogue with all forces without exception or discrimination,” according to him.
Al-Sisi’s call – which is the first of its kind since he took power in the summer of 2014, a year after he led the army’s intervention to oust elected President Mohamed Morsi – came during his attendance at a presidential iftar party, at the end of the elapsed month of Ramadan, with the participation of politicians, including former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi (Sisi’s only competitor in 2014 elections), journalist and former head of the Constitution Party Khaled Daoud, who was imprisoned between 2019 and 2021.
The call culminated in the reformation of the presidential pardon committee, and the release of dozens, including politicians, journalists and activists, and days later one of its outputs was the announcement of the National Training Academy (affiliated with the presidency / established in 2017) to start implementing Sisi’s directives regarding preparation for political dialogue.
Interaction and terms
Various opposition and supportive political forces at home and abroad interacted with the call. At the time when the civil movement (founded in 2017 and dominated by a left-wing orientation) published a statement containing its demands, activists abroad and at home signed a similar statement, albeit with higher demands.
The (liberal) April 6 Youth Movement also valued the presidency’s call for an inclusive national dialogue, noting that it is awaiting the proposed road map; In order for the dialogue to be fruitful and lasting.
However, activists criticized the statement of the National Training Academy, and said that the authority’s academy’s supervision of political dialogue reduces its seriousness, especially with the allocation of an electronic link for those who wish to attend the dialogue, which means the absence of the voice of the serious opposition, according to the description of tweeters.
On the other hand, the broadcaster close to the security services, Nashat Al-Daihi, launched a sharp attack on the activists’ statement, criticizing their call to review foreign policies and the priorities of national projects, as well as their call for elections, describing these calls as unacceptable blackmail.
The idea of reconciliation and political dialogue in Egypt goes back to one of the provisions of the roadmap announced by Sisi when he was Minister of Defense in the statement to overthrow the late President Mohamed Morsi, on July 3, 2013, which stipulated “the formation of a supreme reconciliation committee representing various orientations.”
In a clear change of the language of the speech, Sisi, during his speech, which witnessed the launch of the political dialogue, had mercy on Morsi, who died in prison, saying, “When I stand with President Morsi, may God have mercy on him, it was a pause in favor of Egypt.”
Al-Sisi’s sudden statement about Morsi sparked speculation and controversy about the position of the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Morsi belonged, in the political dialogue, especially since he did not refer to the Brotherhood as “people of evil,” as he used to in his previous conversations, but rather described them as “the force that is not ready to lead a state after 2011″.
This was reinforced by Sisi’s statement during the celebration of Eid al-Fitr on the second of this May, that for 7 years he did not mention the name of the Brotherhood, and refers to it only with the phrase “people of evil”, in order to give them an opportunity to retreat from evil, calling on God to guide everyone. May God guide us all.”
Justifications for refusal
According to Al-Jazeera Net correspondent’s monitoring of the opinions of opponents of Sisi’s call on social media platforms, the most prominent justifications for rejection were:
- The regime’s lack of seriousness in political dialogue.
- The regime was forced to search for internal stability, after the increase in external and internal crises.
- The continued security pursuit of the opposition voices.
- Continuing deaths of politicians and opponents in prisons due to medical negligence.
- Referring the dialogue agenda and its organization to a body affiliated with the presidency has no constitutional or legal significance.
- A discourse of media incitement towards opponents abroad, and the Brotherhood in particular.
- Continuing the decision to include the Muslim Brotherhood on the lists of terrorism.
- Selectivity in including the names of opponents within the presidential pardon decision.
On the other hand, supporters of the call believe that political movement is required, and interaction alone is what will push the country forward away from the demands for radical change, as well as the lack of opportunity for that mainly in light of the tight security grip and the regional and international circumstances.
Professor of Political Sociology, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, saw the invitation as “a good initiative and very good chances of success,” noting that this is linked to “being connected, and not just a seasonal dialogue that ends after several weeks.”
As for the position of the Brotherhood and the opposition youth movements, Ibrahim stressed, in statements to Al Jazeera Net, the need for dialogue to include all the active forces in Egypt; Because political stability in Egypt is key to stability in the entire Middle East region, according to him.
Disadvantages and controls
While political opponent Ayman Nour saw the call as a positive development in light of what he described as the “death of politics” during the past nine years, he pointed to defects in it in terms of form and content.
In statements to Al Jazeera Net, Nour explained that in terms of form, it came on a social occasion, which detracts from its weight and political connotations. As for its content, he considered it shocking, assigning the task to a party that has no political weight or constitutional competence, in reference to the Youth Training Academy concerned with organizing dialogue.
In turn, the former head of the Building and Development Party (disbanded), the political arm of the Islamic Group, Tariq al-Zumar, expected that no one would be excluded from the national dialogue; Noting – in statements to Al Jazeera Net – that this is conditional on achieving its goals by drawing a new political map for the country that goes beyond the political division and polarization that portends serious damage.
It is noteworthy that the Islamic Group announced “its welcome and support for every serious dialogue that does not exclude anyone, and in which all issues are discussed without preconditions,” calling – in a statement – on everyone to create a positive atmosphere for the success of the dialogue.
In televised statements, the head of the Karama Party, Ahmed Al-Tantawi, said that the civil forces are facing difficult choices, and are looking at the invitation with cautious anticipation, according to previous experiences with the authority, referring to the national movement that refuses to have the dialogue under the auspices of the National Training Academy.
Al-Tantawi stressed that the best thing that the authority can offer, whether long-term or short, is to remain a previous authority through fair elections, and it would be desirable if that was soon.
In turn, political activist Mamdouh Hamza (who lives outside Egypt after judicial rulings were issued against him) demanded that “the release of all the oppressed as a condition of any dialogue.”
For his part, journalist Anwar Al-Hawari monitored that such a dialogue, if it took place, would have only two goals; The first is to exempt the ruling regime from accountability for the eight-year harvest that ends in the middle of this year.
As for the second goal, it is to give the regime a traffic certificate or a second authorization to complete in power for the next 8 years, ending according to the plan in 2030, meaning that it is a new authorization, but in a different form and output, according to his description.
The position of the Muslim Brotherhood is still unclear regarding the interaction with this call, from it or from the regime, although media outlets close to the authority affirmed that “the dialogue will be with everyone except the Brotherhood.”
In early May, Youssef Nada, a prominent leader of the group and former international commissioner on its behalf, announced that he was offering for the second time the possibility of dialogue with the Egyptian regime, noting that the Brotherhood’s door is open to turn the page on the past, after what he described as “responding grievances.”
The media exclusion of the Brotherhood from the dialogue reinforces its synchronization with the leaks that came in the series “The Choice 3”, which Sisi has repeatedly praised, as well as its coincidence with a new judicial decision to include it on the lists of terrorism for 5 years.
In this regard, journalist Abdullah Al-Sanawi, in an article published in Al-Shorouk newspaper, last Sunday, ruled out any response to Nada’s message, or any invitation to representatives of the group to engage in the planned national dialogue.
Meanwhile, parliamentarian and media figure, Mustafa Bakri, said that Sisi’s call does not mean reconciliation with the Brotherhood, noting that the dialogue targets civil forces that did not conspire against the state, according to him.
As for the broadcaster close to the authority, Ahmed Moussa, he stressed that the national dialogue will open its doors to all sects except for the Brotherhood, which was confirmed by the broadcaster Nashat al-Daihi by saying that the dialogue will not include banned groups or those whose hands have blood on their hands, accusations that the regime directs to the Brotherhood, which the group denies.
In the same path, the media, Lamis Al-Hadidi, went on, saying that the Brotherhood “is not a party now nor in any political dialogue.”
Source : Egyptian media + Al Jazeera + Social Media