Gregg Carlstrom reports: A confident-looking Abdel Fattah el-Sisi strides across the tarmac at Almaza Air Base, dressed in a blue blazer and his trademark sunglasses. He is not yet Egypt’s head of state, but certainly looks like one: Nabil Fahmy, the foreign minister, trails a few steps behind, half-obscured by the phalanx of military officers around Sisi. The delegation is en route to Russia to discuss a multi-billion dollar arms deal.
The next day in Moscow, a smiling Sisi shakes hands with Vladimir Putin. The Russian president wishes him well. “I know you have decided to run for president. This is a very responsible decision, to take upon yourself responsibility for the fate of the Egyptian people,” he says.
It is Sisi’s first foreign trip since he overthrew President Mohamed Morsi last summer, and it ticks all the boxes: The army chief doffing his uniform, acting like a statesman, shoring up relations with a popular ally.
Except, despite Putin’s good wishes, Sisi hasn’t actually announced a presidential bid yet. For the second time this month, a foreign dignitary got ahead of the army chief. Last week it was Ahmed El-Garallah, the editor of Al-Seyassah, a Kuwaiti newspaper of dubious reliability, who interviewed Sisi at the Defense Ministry and reported that he would run for president, only to have the army deny the story hours later. [Continue reading…]