Technically the claim is coming from Yossi Beilin, who is the Israeli equivalent of George McGovern, hopelessly leftist, but a significant enough figure that he probably is telling the truth about this. Whether his Egyptian source is telling the truth is another matter, but this is reasonably plausible compared to a lot of the conspiracy theories making the rounds.
An Egyptian official told me in person that the army rigged the presidential elections in June 2012, fearing widespread riots should the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi, lose the race.
According to my source, who asked to remain anonymous, Ahmed Shafik, the former air force commander and former president Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, actually won the race by a narrow margin. But the army generals — wanting to ensure that law and order would be upheld following the elections — feared that if Morsi was defeated, the Muslim Brotherhood would refuse to recognize the results and would end up conducting themselves just as they are now.
The official results, 51.73 percent for Morsi and 48.27% for Shafik, were almost the exact reversal of what actually happened at the polls. After the results were published, we barely heard any calls for protest or opposition among the secular-liberals, while on the religious side — loyal either to the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafi parties — voters were happy with their achievement.
Considering that the election that Obama and McCain are using as their default argument was of dubious legality and was only achieved through another populist-military coup against Mubarak, they were just tampering with a highly tampered election.
The irony then would be that the election that Obama is using as the basis for Morsi’s legitimacy was no more legitimate than his removal from power. And that’s typical for the region.
Officials thought that the inexperienced Morsi would accept help from the army and would avoid crossing any red lines — regarding Israel, for example. In reality, what happened was a combination of a pathetic lack of management skills and a string of efforts to rule by the same ideological orientation espoused by a quarter of Egypt’s population. Morsi tried running the operation with the help of several associates who were completely incapable of managing anything.
Many of Col. Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s fellow generals tried to convince him to spring to action several months ago already, but Sissi wanted to give Morsi, who favored Sissi over other generals as defense minister and commander in chief of the armed forces, the opportunity to prove that what had happened stemmed from the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood president was an amateur.
I don’t doubt that this sort of thinking comes from an Egyptian source. Whether or not Morsi really lost the election is and will be an open question, but it’s just one of many in a broken system.