The Washington Post reports: Three years ago, Abdel Fatah al-Sissi was a mostly unknown member of a council of Egypt’s top military officers. On Wednesday, the field marshal, whose image is now plastered on billboards and chocolate bars, declared what everyone in this nation was expecting — that he would run for president, a position he is virtually certain to win.
“The state needs to regain its posture and power,’’ he said in an address on national television. “Our mission is to restore Egypt.’’
Officially, Sissi, 59, will seek office as a civilian. But his election would complete the defeat of Egypt’s brief experiment in Islamist rule, and it would make him the sixth military man to lead the country over what has been a nearly unbroken 62-year span of autocracy.
It was under Sissi’s command that the military staged the coup in July that toppled Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, from power. If Sissi wins the backing of voters, he could gain greater legitimacy. But his role continues to pose a challenge to the United States, which is eager to maintain close ties with Egypt, its longtime ally, without appearing to endorse its shift away from democracy. [Continue reading…]