hortly after the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi, Egyptians jokingly said that maybe the only benefit we reaped out of the January 25th Revolution was that the clock no longer changes after being shifting back and forth during the summer and winter under Mubarak. Yet, Field Marshal Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has put an end to this joke: he decided to shift the hour not twice per year as before, but almost four times this year.
Aside from this, a clear fact is that the only positive change Egyptians are left with now is that they count. Before the revolution, politics in this Pharaonic-descendent state was managed from above with little or no consideration of the weight of public opinion, because the public ineffective or easily manipulated. However, the revolution proved this practice wrong: Egyptians mobilised themselves against the 30-year-old authoritarian state leading to change, albeit momentary.
As the former head of military intelligence and someone who monitored the recent political changes closely, Sisi is well aware of the danger of united public opinion against a standing regime. Such understanding was a key factor that allowed him to orchestrate the 3 July coup. Sisi’s understanding of the importance of media and controlling public opinion is documented in leaked videos of him during Morsi’s era when he stressed the importance of close cooperation between the military and private media. In August 20122, when he served as minister of defense, he said, “We [the Armed Forces] were concerned with this [controlling private media] since day one of the SCAF. To do this, you have to have arms, and to form an arm on the level of a state, it takes long time and effort […] It takes a long time to be able to acquire a suitable portion of influence through media. Are we working on this? Absolutely yes. We are getting better results, but what we need, we didn’t achieve yet.”
In hindsight, it is clear that the 30 June mass mobilisation was the aim that Sisi hadn’t achieved yet back in 2012.
Now on top of the state, Sisi is using the same tool, yet in the opposite direction: he is demobilising people. The de-facto president is keen on implementing a strategy that will guarantee that the January 25th scenario does not take place against him, through controlling the minds of masses.