When historians review this first year of Sisi’s rule, they will note that the military regime’s core priority was to crush popular mobilization. Under the doctrine of restoring “state prestige,” the entire state machinery went into avenger mode, brutalizing both supporters of the ousted president Mohamed Morsi and his diehard opponents. For despite their myopic hatred for each other, the Muslim Brothers and their critics espouse the same dangerous belief, the conviction that they should be able to control the state, not the other way round. This revolutionary idea and its shortlived practice is what Sisi is out to destroy.
Some like to pretend that the scale of state violence since July 3 2013 is a sign of a government that’s out of control or somehow getting off track. In a stunning abuse of language even by the forgiving standards of diplomatspeak, the American State Department continues to proclaim that Egypt is on “a path to democracy” but unfortunately experiencing a “chilling detour.” In reality, the mass killings, mass jailings, mass death sentences, mass hysteria-mongering, and mass leader worship perpetrated by Egypt’s government are not some unfortunate aberration. They are what putschist generals do after they overthrow elected governments.