Egypt’s presidential race is shaping up, and its arms race as well. The relevance of each is to be determined.
Hamdeen Sabbahi, who finished third in the presidential race of 2012, declared his candidacy, claiming to represent both the January 25 and June 30 revolutions. Many then saw him as the best alternative between the old regime and Muslim Brotherhood candidates, but many wonder now if his popularity remains.
God, give him clarity and courage. May his campaign highlight issues between which the people must debate and choose. Strengthen and equip him to bear this challenge.
Abdel Munim Abul Futouh, meanwhile, who finished fourth in the previous race, declined to run. He lamented the unjust state of the nation and said he would not lend credence to a foregone conclusion. He had some support then as a revolutionary, independent Islamist, but some wonder now if he has any support at all.
God, give him wisdom and prudence. May his campaign of a sort rebuke any foul play by the current authorities. Convict him to be upright and influential now, even if he is saving himself for a later challenge.
And subsequently, the Rebellion Campaign, or Tamarod, splits. They brought the possibility of a presidential election to the people through a massive signature campaign and protest to remove Morsi, but with a choice upon them they begin infighting. Some back Sabbahi, others back the yet to declare army general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Millions backed Tamarod eight months ago, but having accomplished their goal, does anyone back them now?
God, give them perspective and chivalry. May their choice reflect the will of the organization, to the degree the organization exists. They have borne their challenge, shall they have another one?
Sisi, however, campaigned in Russia. He returned with the endorsement of the Russian president, but also with strengthened ties and negotiations for arms sales and military cooperation. This is seen as a counterbalance to the longstanding support given by the United States, implicitly protesting the widespread suspicion America is interfering in local developments.
God, give them leverage and diplomacy. May Egypt conduct its foreign policy with independence and find friends with mutual interests for the common good. This challenge is ongoing, and may not end soon.
Nearly everything in Egypt feels weighty, God, but does reality match? Is Sabbahi a real candidate or a willing foil to Sisi? Does Abul Futouh matter? Is Tamarod a discarded shell? Is Russia a replacement for America? Or is the status quo more or less immovable, with developments meant to dodge, distract, and squabble over scraps of relevance?
May it not be so. The heart is divided between selfishness and altruism; politics allows for both and no man is an angel. But may public leaders emerge having been proved as public servants. Satisfy the need for meaning and purify the desire for power.
Above all, God, make Egypt relevant, but only for good. Challenge her, and curb her rebellion. May she find the freedom that comes from doing right.