Egypt's New Strongman: Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

The World

General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a visit to the Egyptian Naval Academy in June. (Photo: Egypt's Defense Department)

The strongman behind the crackdown in Egypt is army commander, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Technically, Sisi is only First Deputy Prime Minister. But few doubt he's calling the shots. Like Egypt's previous strongmen, posters of Sisi are now everywhere across Cairo. But even Egyptians still don't know much about him. That's intentional says Christopher Dickey, who has just co-authored a profile of the man. Dickey is the Paris bureau chief and Middle East editor for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. "We know he intentionally manages all information about him and keeps it to a minimum," says Dickey. "He understands very clearly that he can portray himself as the eagle of the Arabs, as the savior of the country. And then let the Egyptians pour into the emptiness of information all their hopes and dreams," he says. Sisi is a conservative Muslim, but first and foremost an Egyptian nationalist, a quiet and calculating individual. Dickey's research indicates Sisi did not form a favorable opinion of the United States during his time at the US Army War College in Pennsylvania in 2006. "He had plenty of run-ins with US officers just back from Iraq with negative opinions of Arab culture."