Faces have begun to emerge as likely pillars in former Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s newly declared presidential campaign. Chief among them are those who sided with Sisi and the military in its fight against the Muslim Brotherhood that began last summer.
The state-owned news site Al-Ahram cited anonymous sources as saying that columnist and political scientist Amr al-Shobaky, leader of the anti-Brotherhood signature campaign Tamarod (Rebel) Mahmoud Badr and filmmaker Khaled Youssef were the main figures in Sisi’s campaign.
Other names include former Egyptian ambassador to Japan and the European Union Mahmoud Karem, current Youth Minister Khaled Abdel Aziz, media scholar Yasser Abdel Aziz and media and former opposition figure Abdel Gelil Mostafa.
Most of these men had supported the January 25 revolution, later siding with the military during the June 30, 2013 protests against former President Mohamed Morsi.
Shobaky is a regular columnist for the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, where he focuses on questions of democracy. He was also affiliated with the state-run Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies and heads the Arab Forum for Alternatives, an independent research center. He was briefly elected MP in the 2012 parliamentary elections, winning a difficult contest against the Muslim Brotherhood, and was one of the figures appointed to the 50-member committee that drafted the 2014 Constitution following Morsi’s ouster.
Badr still carries the name of the controversial Tamarod group, which spearheaded the June 30 protests that demanded Morsi’s removal from office and led up to Sisi’s decree deposing the former president. Question marks have been raised about the group’s connection to state institutions, which may have contributed to the widespread success of the anti-Morsi signature campaign it ran. Tamarod allegedly collected millions of signatures demanding the president’s resignation.
Youssef, a filmmaker known for his works opposing police practices — particularly torture and human rights violations during the rule of former President Hosni Mubarak — has also become increasingly supportive of the military. He was reported to have been given a spot in a military helicopter during the June 30 protests to record the public outcry against Morsi and present a visual archive of the historic day.
Mostafa was also an opposition figure under the Mubarak regime. He formerly coordinated the Egyptian Association for Change, one of the groups that organized protests and called for the fall of the Mubarak administration over the last decade. Mostafa was also a member of the 2014 Constitution-drafting committee.
Abdel Aziz, a media scholar whose name is mostly associated with media training, has been writing columns about a variety of issues. In the field of media, he often advocated for modernizing journalism and newsroom practices in Egypt, and promoted the integration of online forums in particular.
It is uncertain whether there are issues with a minister officially taking on a position in the field marshal’s campaign. However, Abdel Aziz survived the recent Cabinet reshuffle which saw the resignation of former Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi and the appointment of Ibrahim Mehleb in his place.
Sisi resigned from his post as defense minister and Armed Forces commander-in-chief on Wednesday to announce his intention to run in the presidential contest.
During his brief address on Wednesday, Sisi vowed to restore security and stability in the country and to rebuild the country’s economy, with a focus on people’s rights to housing, health and education.