Make Public Egyptian General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s “Classified” 2006 U.S. Army War College Thesis

At the beginning of this week, Sunday July, 28, 2013, Foreign Affairs published an alarming analysis of the ideology, and political ambitions of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the man who orchestrated Egypt’s military putsch, which deposed President Muhammad Morsi.

Written by Robert Springborg, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, long recognized for his published expertise on the Egyptian military, the essay highlighted al-Sisi’s previously unrecognized (or dismissed) near term political aspirations—such as running for Egyptian President (also suggested here, here)—and of equal significance, his political ideology.

During various interviews he granted in the immediate aftermath of Morsi’s overthrow (see here, here, here, and my own earlier blog), Springborg had forthrightly summarized al-Sisi’s core Weltanschauung as being essentially identical to that of the sacked Egyptian President, and Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, Morsi. Now, Springborg’s 7/28/13 Foreign Affairs essay has provided irrefragable, hard evidence of the General’s, and potential Egyptian Presidential candidate’s, Sharia supremacist ideology: al-Sisi’s own written words, recorded in his 2006 U.S. Army War College mini-thesis.

Although, as Springborg notes, innocuously entitled, “Democracy in the Middle East”, al-Sisi’s mini-thesis, “reads like a tract produced by the Muslim Brotherhood.” Indeed, within the very opening paragraph, according to Springborg,

Sisi emphasizes the centrality of religion to the politics of the region, arguing that “for democracy to be successful in the Middle East,” it must show “respect to the religious nature of the culture” and seek “public support from religious leaders [who] can help build strong support for the establishment of democratic systems.”

Al-Sisi’s thesis further argues that Egyptians and other Arab Muslims will only judge democracy in a positive manner if it “sustains the religious base versus devaluing religion and creating instability.” Moroever, al-Sisi, as per Springborg’s analysis remains openly and harshly critical of secular governance.

Secularism, according to Sisi, “is unlikely to be favorably received by the vast majority of Middle Easterners, who are devout followers of the Islamic faith.” He condemns governments that “tend toward secular rule,” because they “disenfranchise large segments of the population who believe religion should not be excluded from government,” and because “they often send religious leaders to prison.”

But what is al-Sisi’s ultimate vision for the appropriate place of religion in a so-called “Islamic democracy.”? Consistent with aspirations of 67% of Egyptians who recently affirmed their support for the eventual (re-)establishment of an Islamic Caliphate—a totalitarian, Sharia-based trans-national Muslim superstate, al-Sisi (per Springborg’s rendition of his thesis), states:

But Sisi’s thesis goes beyond simply rejecting the idea of a secular state; it embraces a more radical view of the proper place of religion in an Islamic democracy. He writes: “Democracy cannot be understood in the Middle East without an understanding of the concept of El Kalafa,” or the caliphate, which Sisi defines as the 70-year period when Muslims were led by Muhammad and his immediate successors. Re-establishing this kind of leadership “is widely recognized as the goal for any new form of government” in the Middle East, he asserts. The central political mechanisms in such a system, he believes, are al-bi’ah (fealty to a ruler) and shura (a ruler’s consultation with his subjects).

Springborg adds this apposite, if rather understated commentary on al-Sisi’s Caliphate dreams:

Apologists for Islamic rule sometimes suggest that these concepts are inherently democratic, but in reality they fall far short of the democratic mark.

I have no reason to doubt Professor Springborg’s summary assessment of al-Sisi’s 2006 U.S. Army War College mini-thesis. Indeed, key aspects of the thesis were elucidated by Springborg simply quoting al-Sisi’s statements. Regardless, I wish to subject this thesis, in full, to my own independent examination and analysis. However, as documented in the e-mails reproduced below, al-Sisi’s 2006 thesis has been classified and is unavailable to the public—in sharp contrast, as I note, to the 2005 U.S. Army War College thesis of his Egyptian military colleague, General Sedky Sobhy (now Deputy Chairman of Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces).

Clearly, the public’s right to review General al-Sisi’s thesis supervenes any academic guideline or administrative rule proscribing dissemination, in full, of a paper produced by a non-US individual at a US military academic institution, financed by US taxpayers.

Public pressure—via US politicians, media, and most importantly, ordinary US citizens—must be brought to bear so that al-Sisi’s thesis is placed in the public square, where its contents can be viewed and analyzed by all Americans.

Below are my e-mail exchanges with the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA Library staff. I did not receive a response to my last query.

From: Andrew Bostom
Sent: Friday, August 02, 2013 8:21 AM
To: ‘USAWC.LibraryC
Subject: Thesis via Inter-Library Loan/pdf?
Importance: High

Dear Inter-Library Loan Librarian,

I would like to receive a photocopy of the MS thesis described by Professor Robert Springborg in this recent essay [http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/139605/robert-springborg/sisis-islamist-agenda-for-egypt], and entitled, (“Democracy in the Middle East”). The essay, which was extracted at some length by Prof Springborg,  was published in 2006 by the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, and written by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. A year earlier, in 2005, Mr. al-Sisi’s Egyptian colleague, Sedky Sobhy published a Army War College at Carlisle Barracks thesis that is available online http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a432294.pdf, but I cannot locate Mr. al-Sissi’s thesis from 2006. Perhaps it is not online, or I have yet to find the correct portal?

At any rate, could you please locate Mr. al-Sissi’s thesis, and kindly provide me with either a direct hyperlink if it is available online, or a Word doc or pdf copy via e-mail, if it is not?

Thank-you very much!

Sincerely,

Andrew G. Bostom, MD, MS

—–Original Message—–
From: USARMY Carlisle Barracks AWC Mailbox LIBRARYC
Sent: Friday, August 02, 2013 9:47 AM
To: Andrew Bostom
Subject: RE: Thesis via Inter-Library Loan/pdf? (UNCLASSIFIED)

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Caveats: NONE

Good morning,

I have forwarded your request to our research librarian. She will contact you shortly.

ILL Technician

U.S. Army War College

Library (Circulation)

122 Forbes Avenue

Carlisle PA 17013-5220

**

—–Original Message—–
From: Research Librarian CIV (US)
Sent: Friday, August 02, 2013 11:51 AM
To: ABostom
Subject: RE: Thesis via Inter-Library Loan/pdf? (UNCLASSIFIED)

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Caveats: NONE

Mr. Bostom,

General Abdul Fattah el-Sisi’s Strategy Research Project carries a caveat of  “authorized to U.S. Government agencies only.”

Regards,

Research Librarian, MLS

U.S. Army War College Library

122 Forbes Avenue

Carlisle, PA 17013-5220

**

From: Andrew Bostom
Sent: Friday, August 02, 2013 12:12 PM
To: Research Librarian, MLS, CIV (US)
Subject: RE: Thesis via Inter-Library Loan/pdf? (UNCLASSIFIED)

Dear Research Librarian, MLS

My sole experience with US govt agencies was as an employee working for the Public Health Service as a physician, from 1992-1995, so I am unfamiliar with what this designation means.

Could you explain and offer some suggestions as to whom specifically would be so authorized, and perhaps I could contact them?

Also, it is very puzzling as to why Mr. Sobhy’s thesis was placed online—given its rather overt anti-American content—but Mr. al-Sisi’s rather straightforward traditionalist Muslim worldview (as Prof Springborg’s public revelations make plain), was not. Any insights you could provide to help me understand would be appreciated.

Thank-you!

Andrew G. Bostom, MD, MS

 

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

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