There is no doubt that General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is the most popular man in Egypt right now with many local observers betting that if he decided to run for the presidential elections today he would definitely win.
Nonetheless, Al-Sisi is not the only army officer who is winning hearts in Egypt. Colonel Ahmed Mohammad Ali who has been serving as the Spokesman of the Egyptian Armed Forces for more than two years is getting widely popular too, particularly among women.
Aside from his high educational military background, and public speaking skills, Ali seems to have a charisma many Egyptian ladies cannot resist. Ali’s charisma has been theme of several reports in the Arab media including the Saudi-funded Al Arabia news channel. [click to watch]
In an interview with state-run media, Al Ahram, Ali said he wanted to study décor but his mother insisted that he would join the army. He said when he had finished, he had a bachelor military science from the Egyptian Colleague of War, an MA from the British Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) and another from the American School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS), which means he probably attended the US army Command and Staff School at Ft Leavenworth, Kansas.
The popular spokesman dressed in civilian (Courtesy of Facebook fans)
The young officer’s surging popularity was even acknowledged by General Al-Sisi in a recently leaked video where a group of officers appeared to be discussing how to sway the local media.
In the six-minute video, one commander suggested that army might need more than one spokesperson. Al-Sisi jokingly responded “Not sure why you are not happy with him, but my information is that Col. Ahmed Ali is magnetic to women. If I replace him I will be doomed by people.”
The video, which is said to have been taped a year ago by an Islamist website, received extensive coverage in the local media. While Al-Sisi’s opponents and supporters were attempting to figure out if Al-Sisi had intentions to crackdown on the media, others were caught by that one short line he made about Col. Ali’s influence on women.
In fact, some fans were worried that Al-Sisi might consider replacing their idol in response to a suggestion made during that same videotaped meeting. A Few days after the video was leaked, local newspapers quoted high army ranks calming down anxious fans, confirming that Colonel Ali would continue to serve in his current position.
The popular Spokesperson’s official Facebook page shows that he has now hit one million fans with many of them posting photos of him in uniforms or casual clothing.
Comments posted by fans with female names in an Egyptian slang often refer to him as “Muz”, Arabic for banana, and in the Egyptian slang it usually refers to a good-looking man. Egyptian actress Zinat Sidqi’s famous movie line; “My fragile heart can not take more”, is another widely used comment Ali’s female fans scattered all over his Facebook page. The late comedian often played the role of a spinster chasing handsome men.
Female fans on twitter showed their admiration using hash tags such as “al-helaywa,” another Egyptian slang expression that means a good-looking man.
Amidst a boiling political situation such as the one Egypt is witnessing, appearing on televisions on daily basis and being quoted in newspapers or on the web by dogged reporters could be tough to anyone particularly if he is representing a controversial organization such as the Egyptian armed forces.
The spokesman also enjoys a good reputation among the local media and the “revolution” enthusiasts, including young men who see in him an image of the educated disciplined Egyptian who fought his way to the top, a model the former Egyptian regime of Hosni Mubarak and President Mohammad Morsi failed to present.
On another PR note, unlike what many Muslim Brothers’ supporters are trying to promote about Al-Sisi’s crackdown on media, the leaked video serves as good publicity for Al-Sisi. It shows him trying to defuse anger among other officers who seemed anxious about the media coverage of the army’s role in politics even before the overthrow of Morsi.
Al-Sisi appeared urging his colleagues to adjust with the emerging monitoring role of the local media after the fall of Mubarak and the possibility of grilling by the new Parliament. He even mocked a suggestion to use “carrot and stick” policy to influence media.