This was written on February 10, 2014 and I think is more valid now than even then. I am re-posting as I would really like to have him read it and understand how, at least some of us feel about things.
As it is expected that you will put down your name to run for President, and as expected that you will win with a very comfortable margin, I would like to tell you a few things that are on my mind as an ordinary Egyptian citizen who loves her country.
We are a very emotional people, and you know this well, witness your ability to win over the majority of the peoples’ love through your speeches and gestures, through your words on paying condolences to the parents of the soldiers killed in the line of duty, or through your ordering that the army undertakes payment of delinquent debts and releasing people from debtors prisons.
I have been lost in admiration of your PR Team, the way they have handled all your public appearances, and even the way they put everything that you do in a positive light. This reflects well on you, not only through the obvious reason of good PR, but because it shows that you can manage to pick a good team to work for you. This more than the light in which they put you, is what registered with me as a plus for you. This ability to pick a team that can work together and get good results, shows me your managerial skills, which Egypt drastically needs these days.
The fact that you used to head Military Intelligence, is, again, in my book, a definite plus. Not only are you used to handling crises, but from what I have seen you are the kind of person who thinks out of the box and is flexible enough to use unconventional methods. This again is a plus in my view to any leader at the helm for the upcoming few years that will be a make or break period for Egypt.
Your courage, and here I am talking about moral not physical courage, is well known. All Egyptians know and laude your courage in taking your life into your hands, risking all, for the sake of ridding Egypt of a gang of terrorists that had managed to get their hands on Egypt and were slowly but surely dismantling it and breaking it down in every sense of the word. This moral courage is what is giving us hope that your forthcoming tenure as President will be a successful one where Egypt’s standing in the world is concerned.
Your track record, as far as I know, which is only from what I had personally seen, heard and observed, is encouraging. You seem to plan ahead several moves in advance – something that is mostly alien to the Egyptian psyche – and seem able to carry out your plans. When challenged you are ruthless in your response, but seem to be very tender hearted when required. These are all great traits for a leader.
My greatest fear is two-fold, fear that you will be corrupted by your adoring public, and fear that you would reach the totally understandable conclusion that the best way to benefit the country would be through forcing what you know is of benefit, on the people.
First this part about your adoring public corrupting you. People in your position, or at least in the position that you will be holding as President, will have no end of people who will cater to your every whim and whose sole purpose in life would be to agree with everything you say and make it appear that you are a genius of unprecedented proportions. They will do their utmost to give you such a big head, so consistently, that you would reach a point where you would not be able to help yourself but believe them. Once you do, that will be the beginning of your end. Please, please be very careful of the type of people you surround yourself with. Bring in no yes-men, bring in only people who have the courage to face you with the truth, people who are not afraid of your anger, people who are efficient and who know their jobs and strong enough to stand up to you when they have a difference of opinion. This will keep you in line, will give you a strong team and will save you from an inflated ego that is a sure way of losing the love and respect of your people. As a military leader you have already been exposed to the authority of command and used to being immediately obeyed, but have probably not tasted the unprecedented depths to which sycophants can sink. Make it a habit to give yourself a reality check every so often, and when you reach a point where you start to think that you are surrounded by idiots, that is the time to quit!
The second fear is very real and has been the downfall of many an excellent leader. This is the temptation of cutting corners for the greater good of the country. When you have practically limitless authority it is extremely tempting to cut corners and get things done. But in cutting corners you would be either encroaching on certain liberties or certain rules put in place as checks and balances for the greater protection of said liberties. Following the straight and narrow could be very frustrating, but it will save you from becoming a dictator.
Those two fears are the nutshell of what is colloquially called the “Making of a Pharaoh”, which is really the setting up of a good man, a strong leader, to fall for the buttering up and deifying that would turn him into a dictator. You could become what you think of yourself as a benevolent dictator “for the sake of quickly saving the country”, but that is no good. You will lose yourself and the country in the process.
People have unrealistically high hopes for you and your ability to solve all their problems in no time whatsoever, but unless you give them a reality check and enlist their help and participation in overcoming all the obstacles facing us all, you will have a great many disappointed people on your hands that could easily be misled into the wrong type of opposition which you might think needs to be curbed, and that is how situations spiral into violence then all would be lost. Now you have the love of the people, now you have some leeway, but not much, to do something, but if it is not perceived by the majority that you have taken some decisive steps towards alleviating their burdens, this love will turn into disappointment and then disillusionment, then, out of desperation, and probably with the egging on of our enemies within and without, into aggression. I hope we do not reach that point and I hope you have a plan in mind to circumvent such a situation. I have every confidence in your ability, every hope that you will try your best, but still will be watching how you will choose your team, and how you will comport yourself.
God bless my beloved Egypt
10 February 2014