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Abdel Fattah El-Sisi

(1954 - )

Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was born on November 19, 1954 in Cairo, Egypt

Sisi attended the Egyptian Military Academy and graduated in 1977. Afterward, he served in Egypt’s infantry. Like many of his peers, he never saw combat but rose through the ranks to command a mechanized infantry division and later Egypt’s northern military region. In 2010, Sisi was appointed the director of military intelligence.

After the January-February 2011 uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, Sisi became the youngest member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which was a group of senior military officers that took over governing Egypt. In August 2012, amid a power struggle with the military, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, who was elected president of Egypt in the wake of the revolution during the Arab Spring, appointed the little-known Sisi as defense minister and commander of the armed forces after forcing senior SCAF members into retirement.

In the summer of 2013, Sisi became prominent in Egyptian politics as the Tamarrud (“Rebellion”) movement demanded Morsi’s removal or an early election. Massive protests on June 30 led some demonstrators to call for Sisi to oust Morsi, and on July 1, Sisi gave Morsi 48 hours to resolve the crisis or face military intervention. Morsi refused to step down, and on July 3, the military arrested him. Adly Mansour was installed as president, but Sisi, retaining his defense minister title, held the real power. 

Morsi’s supporters denounced Sisi's intervention as anti-democratic. Tensions escalated between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military, leading to widespread demonstrations and clashes. Sisi’s call for support against violence and terrorism prompted massive rallies in his favor, enabling an extensive crackdown, resulting in significant casualties.

After these events, Sisi gained significant political support from Egyptians who were frustrated about the past two years of economic and political turmoil. In March 2014, Sisi announced that he would resign from the military to run for Egyptian president later that year. Sisi was the overwhelming favorite in the race, and easily defeated his opponent, becoming Egypt’s president.

Sisi’s first term saw economic optimism with infrastructure projects and financial reform, though criticism grew over political suppression, including allegations of human rights abuses against opposition figures and journalists. In the 2018 election, Sisi won by a landslide amidst token opposition.

During Sisi’s second term, Egypt saw many impressive infrastructure projects, including the creation of the largest cathedral in the Middle East and the largest mosque in Egypt in the New Administrative Capital in 2019. However, in 2022, the anticipated benefits of Egypt’s expensive projects had not yet emerged, and Egypt started to feel the effects of global economic disruptions. 

Energy and security cooperation between Egypt and Israel intensified under Sisi. In 2020, Egypt started importing gas from Israel and has since hosted the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, which includes Israel. 

Tensions between Egypt and Israel arose after October 7th, 2024. Sisi foreclosed the opportunity for Gazans to escape the war by refusing to allow them to leave Gaza or take up temporary residence in Sinai out of fear they might not leave and would destabilize Egypt given Hamas’s connection to the Muslim Brotherhood. Foreign nationals were mostly allowed to leave as were Gazans willing to pay exhorbitant bribes to border guards. 

Relations grew further complicated when Israeli forces took control of the Philadelphi corridor along the Gaza-Egyptian border and launched a counteroffensive into Rafah. Sisi briefly closed Rafah to prevent humanitarian aid from entering until he succumbed to pressure from President Joe Biden to reopen the passage.

Sisi has actively participated in ongoing efforts to negotiate a ceasefire in Gaza, facilitate prisoner exchanges, and provide humanitarian aid. 

In March 2024, Sisi was sworn in for his third term as Egyptian president. According to the Egyptian constitution, this should be his last 6-year term as president.

Sisi and his wife have four children.

Sources: “Abdel Fattah al-Sisi,” Britannica, (May 8, 2024).
“President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi - The Eighth President of Egypt,” Arab Republic of Egypt Presidency.
“Explainer-Egypt-Israel Relations Explained as Tensions Rise at Rafah Border,” U.S. News, (May 28, 2024).
Gobran Mohamed, “El-Sisi reiterates Egypt’s rejection of displacement of Gazans to Sinai,” Arab News, (February 18, 2024).
“El-Sisi sworn in for third term as Egyptian president,” Al Jazeera, (April 1, 2024).

Photo: Egypt Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.