The Foreign Ministry has announced that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will be the chief guest at Republic Day celebrations in January. “This is the first time that the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt will be the Chief Guest at our Republic Day,” the MEA said in a statement.
A formal invitation was sent to al-Sisi by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On October 16, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar handed it over to the Egyptian president. The two countries are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year.
al-Sisi was born in Cairo in 1954. After graduating from the Egyptian Military Academy in 1977, he joined the infantry and eventually assumed command of a mechanised division.
He served as a military attaché in Saudi Arabia, chief of staff and then commander of Egypt’s northern military zone. He was then appointed head of military intelligence, according to a BBC report.
In 2011, he shot to fame when he was appointed to the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces (Scaf), which took over after a popular uprising forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign.
A devout Muslim, General Sisi was tasked with establishing links with the Muslim Brotherhood, an influential Islamist movement that had been banned under Mubarak, according to reports.
In June 2012, Mohammed Morsi, a senior figure of the Muslim Brotherhood, was became Egypt’s first democratically elected president. Two months later, he appointed General Sisi as commander-in-chief of the military and defence minister.
In the summer of 2013, Sisi rose to prominence in Egyptian politics after the a protest movement called the Tamarrud (“rebellion”) emerged and called for Morsi’s ouster or replacement via an early election. By June 30, the protests against Morsi had reached a scale and intensity not seen since the fall of Mubarak in February 2011, and some protesters chanted for Sisi to do the same. Sisi issued an ultimatum to Morsi on July 1 and demanded that the crisis be resolved within 48 hours or face a military intervention.
Morsi offered talks but refused to resign or accept an early election, so the military deposed him and arrested him on July 3. A figurehead president, Adly Mansour, was installed. However, it was clear that Sisi, who retained the title of defense minister, wielded power, according to a Britannica report.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters criticised the intervention and accused Sisi of undermining democracy by overthrowing a freely elected president. Sisi retorted that the military had executed the will of the Egyptian people, as expressed in the anti-Morsi demonstrations, and that the Morsi-led Islamist-dominated administration had prioritised the Muslim Brotherhood’s interests over the country’s overall interests.
Tensions between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military grew as the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies demonstrated across the country and refused to participate in the transition process. Meanwhile, Muslim Brotherhood leaders were arrested and the group’s media outlets were shut down.
On July 8, as the Muslim Brotherhood demonstrated in front of a military base, security forces opened fire, killing more than 50 people. Facing continued opposition from the Muslim Brotherhood, Sisi urged Egyptians to unite in support of the army against “violence and terrorism.” On July 26, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians across the country took to the streets to show their support followed by a crackdown on supporters of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Sisi later stepped down from the military to run in the 2014 elections, which he won. After years of political turmoil in Egypt, he said he would prioritize economic development.
“Regular political and diplomatic engagements in recent times are based on a shared understanding on various important regional and international issues. Security and defence have emerged as one of the most important areas of bilateral relations with focus on counter-terrorism and defence trade,” Md. Muddassir Quamar, Fellow at Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses told the Financial Express.
“Egypt is a major buyer of weapons and is in the process of rapid military modernization,” he continues, “and India has recently put an effort on strengthening its defence manufacturing, both for ‘atmnirbharta’ in meeting its needs and for enhancing defence exports,” he added.