2/1/1

The ousting of Hosni Mubarak three years ago was a mistake. I wrote about it many times and until about six months ago, I was right in every respect.

The Obama administration’s miscalculations on the Egypt story is legendary. It is nearly impossible to have such a perfect score of doing all the wrong things all the time.

Here is a short summary of those:

  • Allowing Mubarak to be ousted without any moderating and intervening action.
  • Supporting Morsi, which was astonishing.
  • Rejecting and objecting to the military coup and to general Al Sisi.

However, in an amazing turn of events, the situation today is such that after three years of turmoil, Egypt does have the opportunity to recover, to regroup, and to actually move very strongly forward. No thanks to the USA, mind you.

All subject to Al Sisi proving to be a great leader and doing the right thing.

Is he the one-in-a-generation leader that Egypt needs? Is he the great man who can grab the opportunity that fortune lays at his doorstep? We will not know that for some months and years but here is what he needs to do:

  • Win the presidential elections—this is more or less a forgone conclusion.
  • As president to set the tone for SLOW, staged, but clear progress for democracy and rule of law. This should involve GRADUAL, over a period of years, restoration of human rights, free speech, equality for women, real democracy, electoral parties, and more. Also, and probably the most difficult element of such reform, will be the need to slowly disentangle the hold that the military economic complex has on Egyptian life. This process should be done gradually and over many years, maybe even as long as ten to fifteen years, but as long as he charts a clear course from the very beginning, makes this course public, clear and sticks to it—this should suffice.
  • Forge a real strong relationship and alliance with Israel. Israel will be there to give him a helping hand on any issue where he requires one. The shared interest between Israel and Egypt to control the Gaza Strip and eliminate Hamas there is a huge opportunity for these two important nations in the Middle East who enjoyed a very cold peace for thirty years to warm it up and change the face of the Middle East once and for all. A positive cooperation between these two Middle Eastern giants can eliminate Hamas, hand Gaza back to the Palestinian Authority (PA), and push the PA to make peace. This is an opportunity to make history in the Middle East if only Al Sisi will grab the hand offered by Israel.
  • Act decisively and on this element VERY swiftly to make fundamental economic and market changes in Egypt. This is his biggest challenge and in order to succeed here, he needs to deal with the two elements mentioned above but this one will be the defining issue because it is so urgent. If he moves along the lines described above and if the U.S. leads the world in helping him, he will have enormous world support for reforming the economy. Saudi and other gulf states will provide financial support. The U.S., EU, Japan and others will also chip in. Israel’s technology, agriculture, entrepreneurialship, and management prowess together with his leadership and foreign financial support can change Egypt’s poor economic fortunes rapidly enough to provide meaningful dividends to tens of millions of Egypt’s desolate people.

If only Al Sisi is the man.

The Middle East is due for a real leader, for a one-in-a-century type of man who will save the Middle East.

By the law of unintended consequences, we are on the verge of the greatest opportunity the Middle East has ever faced. In an unbelievable twist, yet again, Obama may prove to be the luckiest president ever. By doing all the wrong things, he has created the biggest opportunity for the Middle East ever.

Will Al Sisi be THE man?