The recycling of dictators through their offsprings The election of Marco’s son in the Philippines, can Reza Pahlavi of Iran, Raghda Saddam of Iraq, Saif el-islam al-Kaddafi of Libya, or Alaa Mubarak of Egypt be next?

By: Nadum Jwad*


If history taught us anything, it will tell us that there is nothing constant in politics and what seemed to be an impossibility yesterday can be a real possibility today. And it was Winston Churchill who said once “In war, you can only be killed once, but in politics, many times

(Haartz, “On 50th Anniversary of Churchill’s death, 13 Unforgettable Quotes”, 1/24/2015 )”

This article will focus on the election last year of Bongbong Marcus, the son of the late Philippines dictator, Ferdinand Marcus in a landslide, and whether such a scenario is possible to take place in Iran, Iraq, Libya, or Egypt, whereas the offsprings of the former dictators of these countries are considering a political comeback.

The election of Bongbong Marcos in a landslide defied all logics and expectations given that his father had fled the country after months of popular protest as a result of gross human rights violations which were widely covered, and that Bongbong himself had his share of troubles even during his father’s reign. The focus of this article, therefore, is to examine the circumstances

which lead to his election in a landslide and to see if such a scenario can take place in countries whereas the offsprings of long-serving and charismatic leaders are looking for a future role in their respective countries.

Bongobong Marcus of the Philippines

Ferdinand Marcus (born 9/11/1917 and died 9/28/1989) was the president of the Philippines from 12/30/1965 to 2/25/1986 when he fled the country to Hawaii after a massive popular revolt.

It is really hard to believe that in less than 36 years after he fled the Philippines, that President

Marco’s legacy and image are rehabilitated to the extent that his son, who to a large extent ran on this legacy, is the current president of the Republic of the Philippines. Afterall, the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s and 1980s is historically remembered for its record of human rights abuses, (“Alfred McCoy, Dark Legacy: Human rights under the Marcos regime”. Ateneo de Manila University. September 20, 1999) particularly targeting political opponents, student

activists, (“Gone too soon: 7 youth leaders killed under Martial Law”. Rappler. Retrieved June 15, 2018) journalists, religious workers, farmers, and others who fought against the Marcos dictatorship. Based on the documentation of Amnesty International, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, and similar human rights monitoring entities, (historians believe that the Marcos

dictatorship was marked by 3,257 known extrajudicial killings, (“3,257: Fact checking the Marcos killings, 1975-1985 – The Manila Times Online”. April 12, 2016. Retrieved June 15, 2018) 35,000 documented tortures, 77 ‘disappeared‘, and 70,000 incarcerations (“Report of an AI Mission to the Republic of the Philippines 1975.)

Some 2,520 of the 3,257 murder victims were tortured and mutilated before their bodies were dumped in various places for the public to discover – a tactic meant to sow fear among the public, (McCoy, Alfred W. (2009). Policing America’s empire : the United States, the Philippines, and the rise of the surveillance state. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 9780299234133. OCLC 550642875) which came to be known as “salvaging” (Cagurangan,

Mar-Vic. “‘Salvage’ victims”. The Guam Daily Post. Retrieved June 24, 2018.) Some victims were even subjected to cannibalism. (Aguilar, Mila D. (October 3, 2015), So Why Samar?, Commission on Human Rights (Philippines), retrieved June 18, 2018.)

The implementation of Martial Law in September 1972 began with a wave of arrests, targeting anyone who opposed Marcos. This included students, opposition politicians, journalists,

academics, and even religious workers, aside from known activists. Those who were captured were referred to as “political detainees,” rather than “political prisoners,” with the technical definitions of the former being vague enough that the Marcos administration could continue to hold them in detention without having to be charged (“Ricky Lee, martial law detainee, on historical revisionism: ‘Para akong binubura'”.)

Bongbong Marcus

Marco’s reign was also marred by colossal corruption, accusation of accumulation of massive wealth, political favoritism, failed economic policies, political assassinations, insurgency, etc.

It is said that under Marcos regime, security forces carried out extrajudicial executions of more than 3,250 people. They tortured 34,000 and imprisoned 70,000 people. The Marcos family plundered some U.S. $10 billion from the country, of which only U.S. $3.3 billion has been recovered.

The Marcos family’s corruption devastated the economy in the 1980s and was plagued by negative growth rates, massive debt, runaway inflation, and rising unemployment which increased hardships for Filipinos. The sinking economy helped fuel the mass emigration of hundreds of thousands of Filipino workers to all corners of the world (Open Canada, Why did Filipinos vote overwhelmingly for Ferdinand Marcos Jr.? 10 May 2022.)

This weight of history did not, however, weaken Bongbong Marcos’ claim to the presidency. On the contrary, the historical past of his father has been celebrated as a badge of pride for the son, and for the nation. In this political stupor, dictators are nostalgically remembered as strong leaders, historical facts are purposely manipulated, and the past is perceived to be glorious when compared to the present.

President Rodrigo Duterte has contributed to the country’s misremembering of its past. An ally of the Marcoses, Duterte allowed the former dictator’s family a long-standing demand: burial of Ferdinand Marcos in the National Heroes’ Cemetery. Symbolically, this helped shroud the elder Marcos with the aura of a presidency distinguished by great achievements. (Open Canada, Why did Filipinos vote overwhelmingly for Ferdinand Marcos Jr.? 10 May 2022.)

Members of the Marcos family deny that human rights violations happened during the Marcos administration (“Vera Files Fact Check: Bongbong Marcos falsely claims martial law horrors fabricated”. Vera Files. January 17, 2020.) He also received significant criticism for instances of historical denialism, and his trivialization of the human rights violations and economic plunder that took place during the Marcos administration, and of the role he played in the

administration (“PCGG welcomes Singapore court decision on Marcos’ Swiss funds”. Rappler. January 4, 2015. Archived from the original on November 22, 2018. Retrieved July 3, 2016.)

Specific criticisms have been leveled at Marcos for being unapologetic for human rights violations and ill-gotten wealth during his father‘s administration (Elizabeth Marcelo (February 10, 2016). “Bongbong Marcos unfazed by anti-Martial Law critics”. GMA News Online.

Archived from the original on January 14, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2016.) Of the human rights victims, Marcos Jr. said of them in 1999: “They don’t want an apology, they want money (Arzadon, Cristina (February 24, 1999). “Bongbong: Apology? They only want money”.

Philippine Daily Inquirer.)” He then proceeded to state that his family would apologize only if they had done something wrong.

When victims of human rights abuses during his father’s administration commemorated the 40th year of the proclamation of martial law in 2012, Marcos Jr. dismissed their calls for an apology for the atrocities as “self-serving statements by politicians, self-aggrandizement narratives, pompous declarations, and political posturing and propaganda (Tan, Kimberly Jane (September 21, 2012). “Martial Law in the eyes of the late strongman Marcos’ son”. GMA News Online.

Archived from the original on November 20, 2021. Retrieved October 8, 2017.)

In the Sydney Morning Herald later that year, Bongbong cited the various court decisions against the Marcos family as a reason not to apologize for Martial Law abuses, saying “we have a judgment against us in the billions. What more would people want?” (“A dynasty on steroids”.

The Sydney Morning Herald. November 24, 2012. Archived from the original on May 6, 2022. Retrieved February 5, 2022.)

On the stories of human rights abuses, Bongbong Marcos describes them as “self-serving

statements by politicians, self-aggrandizement narratives, pompous declarations, and political posturing and propaganda (Tan, Kimberly Jane (September 21, 2012). “Martial Law in the eyes of the late strongman Marcos’ son”. GMA News.)

His older sister, Imee, denies that human rights abuses occurred during her family’s regime and called them political accusations. According to her, “If what is demanded is an admission of guilt, I don’t think that’s possible. Why would we admit to something we did not do? (Gonzales, Cathrine (October 16, 2018). “Imee says HR abuses during father’s rule are just ‘political accusations'”. Philippine Daily Inquirer.)

Reza Pahlavi of Iran

In a highly publicized event, the son of the late shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, visited Israel in April which included a visit to the Western Wall in East Jerusalem whereas he voiced hope to restore “historic friendship” with Israel (Middle East Monitor, April 18, 2023.) He had meetings with top Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac


Pahlavi also engaged in a variety of activities with Israeli officials, including participating in a

Holocaust Memorial Day event and visiting Rabbi Leo Dee, who lost his two daughters and wife this month in a shooting attack attributed to Palestinian assailants.


Reza Pahlavi was born 31 October 1960 and is the oldest son of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, and his wife Farah Diba. Before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, he was the

crown prince and the last heir apparent to the throne of the Imperial State of Iran. Today, Pahlavi resides in Great Falls, Virginia.

Pahlavi was 18 years old when he fled the country with his parents after a massive popular revolut which lasted many months and caused many deaths. The shah’s regime was accused of gross human rights violations during his 37 years reign, and by 1978, growing political unrest snowballed into a popular revolution leading to the monarchy’s overthrow (Razipour, Suzanne Maloney and Keian (24 January 2019). “The Iranian revolution—A timeline of events”.

Brookings. Retrieved 10 February 2021.)

The Jaleh Square massacre, where his military killed and wounded dozens of protestors (Staff, IFP Editorial (7 September 2016). “Iran’s Black Friday: Massacre of Thousands in 1978”. Iran Front Page. Retrieved 10 February 2021) and the Cinema Rex fire, an arson attack in Abadan that was largely but erroneously blamed on SAVAK, leading to protests across Iran, made his position in Iran untenable. The true perpetrators of the Cinema Rex fire, and whether they were pro- or anti-Shah remain unclear. A meeting of western leaders was perceived by the Shah as a withdrawal of their support. He left Iran for exile (Kabalan 2020, p. 113) on 17 January 1979. While the Shah told his contemporaries in the West that he would rather leave than fire on his people (Cooper 2016, p. 10, 36), the number of protesters killed by his military is disputed, with the total number of people killed during the revolution ranging from 540 to 2,000 (historians’ figures) to 60,000 (figures of the Islamic Republic of Iran)(“Constitution of the Islamic Republic

of Iran”. Soon thereafter, the Iranian monarchy was formally abolished, and Iran was declared an Islamic republic led by Ruhollah Khomeini. The Shah died in exile in Egypt, where he had been granted asylum by President Anwar Sadat.

Pahlavi’s and possible return to Iran?

After the protests that erupted across Iran in mid-September following the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s so-called morality police, Pahlavi has increasingly tried to fashion himself as the main opposition leader and a key figure in a future Iran. He has visited several

countries, met with American and European politicians, and has forged shaky alliances with other opposition figures (Al Jazeera, April 19th, 2023.)

In a recent attempt in 2023 to garner support for Reza Pahlavi as a representative for transition, a petition was created on the platform that has amassed over 460,000 signatures

(“Campaign To Give Power Of Attorney To Iran’s Exiled Prince Gains Momentum”. Iran International. 18 January 2023. Retrieved 10 February 2023.)

Reza Pahlavi

Reza Pahlavi asked Iranians worldwide to protest against the Islamic Republic on its 44th

anniversary, February 11, 2023. As a result, people rallied in multiple cities in the US, Europe, Australia, and Canada (“Thousands Of Iranians Gather To Protest At US Consulate”. The

National Telegraph. Retrieved 14 February 2023.) Reza Pahlavi himself participated in the LA rally where a massive crowd of more than 80,000 showed up (Thousands in L.A. rally in support of the anti-government movement in Iran”. Los Angeles Times. 12 February 2023. Retrieved 14 February 2023)

Pahlavi is the founder and leader of the self-styled National Council of Iran, an exiled opposition group (Maciej Milczanowski (2014), “US Policy towards Iran under President Barack Obama’s Administration”, Hemispheres: Studies on Cultures and Societies, Institute of Mediterranean and

Oriental Cultures Polish Academy of Sciences, 29 (4): 53–66, ISSN 0239-8818) participates in the Iranian democracy movement, and is a prominent critic of Iran’s Islamic Republic.

This is not the first time Iran witnessed turmoil with direct comments from Pahlavi. On June 5 1989 Iran predicted trouble in his homeland in the wake of the death of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini the day before.

“In view of the circumstances in the country, the division of power and the conflict of interest, the conflict among various people who all have a claim to power, we are certain to see not a

smooth transition at all,” Pahlavi told CNN television late Saturday night before the announcement that [The then] President Ali Khamenei would succeed Khomeini.

“There are several elements that do indeed have some role to play in terms of the transition of power. And it is very likely that the situation that we see today in Iran will have a great chance to deteriorate even further,” he said.

Pahlavi said Khomeini’s death came as no surprise. “The news was not unexpected because we were aware of the state of Khomeini’s illness. But (with) his passing away, we are entering a new era in Iranian history.” However, he added: “By no means is the passing away of Khomeini the

end of the particular regime (Los Angeles Times, June 5, 1989.)”

In February 2011, after violence erupted in Tehran, Pahlavi said that Iran’s youth were determined to get rid of an authoritarian government tainted by corruption and misrule in the hope of installing a democracy. “Fundamental and necessary change is long overdue for our region, and we have a whole generation of young Egyptians and Iranians not willing to take no for an answer”, he told The Daily Telegraph. “Democratization is now imperative that cannot be denied. It is only a matter of time before the whole region can transform itself (Iran’s Crown Prince calls on the West to support anti-government protests. Telegraph. 16 February 2011.

Retrieved on 9 June 2012.)

In June 2018, he commented: “I believe Iran must be a secular, parliamentary democracy. The final form has to be decided by the people (“The Late Shah’s Son Wants a Democratic Revolution in Iran”. Bloomberg. 19 June 2018. Retrieved 22 May 2019. From exile, Reza Pahlavi supports a movement to retake his homeland. But he says he doesn’t want a throne.).”] In a presentation at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in December 2018, Pahlavi called for the

non-military support of those in Iran who were trying to replace the Islamist regime with a

secular democracy. According to a news report, he was “not openly calling for the restoration of the Peacock Throne. He casts himself more as a symbol than a politician, but has called himself ‘ready to serve my country (Son of deposed Iranian Shah calls for U.S.-backed regime change”.

(Politico. 13 December 2018. Retrieved 22 May 2019. In a sign that he welcomes the higher visibility, Pahlavi made a rare public appearance.)'”.

During anti-government demonstrations in Iran in 2022 following the Abadan building collapse, Pahlavi predicted that the Islamic regime would collapse in the near future as events such as the shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, bans on importing foreign

COVID-19 vaccines and tests into the country and rising food prices had led to unnecessary deaths and would provoke further anger at government mismanagement from the population. He urged members of the armed forces to oppose the Islamic Republic but work for the government to engage in peaceful disruption and called for a coordinated front against the regime. While

acknowledging support from Iranian demonstrators chanting for the return of the monarchy, he also stated “The most important thing I do in response to the Iranian people’s trust is to reinforce their voices. I don’t tell them what to do. I’m not a political leader (“Iran’s Exiled Prince Calls For Coordinated Front Against Islamic Republic”. Retrieved 1 May 2023.)” He later went into

detailed accounts of how he sees the future of his country in light of recent events in an interview with Politico. And he was asked if Can imagine himself going back to Iran, he replied “I see myself in a trailer traveling the four corners of the country, camping out just to interact with people. That’s how you can feel what people really want and then show them ways to be more impactful in decision-making. I think the secret to established democracies is that their citizens

are proactive. It’s very hard to insert a mentality of proactiveness in a very traditional Middle Eastern culture which always sits back and says, “somebody do something for me.” But this generation is not waiting anymore (Politico, 2/18/2023.)

After more than 40 years living abroad, mostly in the United States, Reza Pahlavi remains a polarizing figure. While he espouses the democratic, secular, and liberal aspirations that many Iranians hold, the shadow of his late father, the Shah, continues to loom over him. And while there are many who are firmly against the theocratic system of the Ayatollahs, not everyone

wants a return to a monarchy.

Pahlavi has consistently said he does not seek a role as a future leader of Iran, and whether Iran’s people chose a republic or monarchy to replace the mullahs is their choice. However, he does

want the Iranian people to endorse him to help overthrow the Islamic Republic and lead the transition towards a secular democracy. Whoever Iranians then elect in a free and open referendum is up to them, he insists.

It is unclear how much support the Pahlavis have inside Iran, since many monarchists fled (or were killed) after the 1979 Revolution. However, what is clear is that most young Iranians haven’t tasted certain social freedoms that existed under the Shah’s rule – a world where women

could wear miniskirts and platform heels (reminiscent of the 1970s western culture) – and freely attend public gatherings with men.

They only know of life under the Islamic Republic, where wearing a hijab (head covering) from puberty is mandatory and where a couple dancing together in public results in 10 years’ jail.

Despite that, not all Iranians look back on the pre-revolution days with rose-coloured glasses.

While the story of Iran’s economic development under the Shah is well-documented, he was also criticized for restricting political freedom. One of the most controversial aspects of his reign was using secret police to stifle dissent.

Nevertheless, there is a cohort of die-hard Pahlavi family supporters both in Iran, as well as outside it, who think the exiled crown prince may have a role to play should the latest uprising in Iran result in the Islamic regime being toppled. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, February 13, 2013.)

Raghad Saddam Hussein of Iraq

The Iraqi scene is now a buzz with all sorts of rumors suggesting that the daughter of the late Iraqi dictator, Raghad Saddam Hussien, is considering a political run for the presidency of Iraq in the near future. Raghad (54) is certainly busy nowadays by giving lengthy interviews to a variety of Arabic satellite channels, and she is quite vocal in praising her father’s legacy of ruling Iraq with an iron fist for almost 35 years.

The suggestion that Raghad, given her father’s brutal legacy, to have some sort of a political role in Iraq would have been unthinkable a few years ago. However, the widely-accepted bad performance of the post American invasion governments in Baghdad, the endless cycle of violence, colossal corruption, etc., has given credence to Saddam’s era which is being viewed by many Iraqis as a time of stability and security, and that is what Raghad has been repeating to her listeners.

Raghad Saddam Hussein was born on the second of September in 1968 and is the eldest daughter of the former Iraqi president (Saddam Hussein’s daughter on Iraq’s most-wanted list, archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved 2021-04-22.) She was married in 1983 to Hussein

Kamel al-Majid, her cousin who later defected in 1995 and shared government weapons secrets with UNSCOM, the CIA and MI6. Hussein Kamel was killed in 1996 along with his brother Saddam Kamel, by fellow clan members who declared them traitors. Saddam Hussein had

allegedly made it clear that although he had pardoned both Hussein Kamel and his brother, they would lose all status, and would not receive any protection (Atassi, Basma (December 22, 2016). “Saddam Hussein’s daughter: Trump has ‘political sensibility”’. CNN. Retrieved 2020-09-11.)

Raghad Hussein had five children with Hussein Kamel: three sons, Ali, Saddam and Wahej; and two daughters, Hareer and Banan.

In 2003, Raghad and many prominent Iraqi Baathists fled to Jordan where King Abdullah II gave her personal protection.

In August 2007, the international police agency Interpol announced that it had circulated an

arrest warrant for Hussein, on suspicions that she and her aides had been assisting the insurgency in Iraq (“Warrant out for Saddam daughter”. BBC News. 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2013-06-12..) These suspicions were reflected in an August 2014 article in Spiegel Online, which proposed the title “Terror Godmother” (Salloum, Raniah (2014-08-29). “”Islamic State” in Iraq: Saddam’s daughter is godmother Terror”. Spiegel Online. Retrieved 2014-08-31.) The article reports that, while living in opulence in Jordan, Hussein’s fortune in the double-digit millions is used to

support the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), with the ultimate goal of returning to regain power in Baghdad. Earlier in June, Fox News Channel had quoted such an intention

expressed by Hussein in an interview she had given (Hall, Benjamin (23 June 2014). “ISIS joins forces with Saddam loyalists in bid to take Baghdad”. Fox News Channel. Retrieved 31 August 2014.)

In 2018, Iraqi authorities named her on top of the country’s most-wanted list. Then, she vowed to confront all those who “insult her” by suing them back. Iraqi security services at the time had published the names of 60 people wanted on suspicion of belonging to ISIS, al-Qaeda, or the

Baath Party of late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (MAJALLA, Arabic edition, February 18 2021.)

Beginning on the 16th of February in 2021, Raghad gave several interviews with the Al-Arabiya in which she looked confident and defiant, and praised her late father as an exceptional leader

who had great qualities and blasted the American invasion of Iraq and the current government in Baghdad. She also denounced Iranian interference in Iraqi politics. She lamented the absence of real power which led to Iran’s provocative actions in her country, saying “In light of the absence of Iraq’s real and legitimate authority, Iran deemed the state free for the taking.” She went on to add “Based on my own conviction, when the deterrent becomes real, the high-ranking officials, the decision-makers, whoever they were, when they put their mind to ending this interference, they can do that,” she added. She also warned against the option of dividing her country, saying “each phase may have any requirements with the exception of dividing the homeland.”

Saddam revealed her hope to return back to Iraq and, when asked about prospects of playing a direct role in Iraqi politics, she replied, “Everything is possible.” And in a rare admission, and in a reply about her father’s decision to invade Kuwait, Saddam said that it was a wrong decision

and both countries have incurred losses. And in further note and though she described her father’s rule as a “glorious time for Iraq,” she admitted that certain cases witnessed harsh treatment. “When your president is Saddam Hussein, you have to choose between prosperity and freedom,” she told Al Arabiya (MAJALLA, Arabic edition, February 18 2021.)

Whether Ragahd Saddam Hussien (if she decides to enter politics) runs in her own right as a candidate or under the banner of a political movement where she acts from behind the scene remains to be seen. The next elections to the Iraqi Parliament are yet to be scheduled.

Raghad Saddam Hussien

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi of Libya

The Libyan presidential election had originally been planned for 10 December 2018 (“Libya’s

rival leaders agree to hold elections in December”. Al Jazeera. 29 May 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018) but was delayed due to Khalifa Haftar‘s (a Libyan politician, military officer, and the

commander of the Tobruk-based Libyan National Army (LNA) Western Libya campaign (“Libya election to take place in early 2019: UN envoy”. Al Jazeera. 9 November 2018. Retrieved 9

November 2018.) The election was thereafter scheduled to be held on 24 December 2021 but was indefinitely postponed after the head of the High National Election Commission (HNEC) ordered the dissolution of the electoral committees nationwide (“Libya electoral commission dissolves poll committees”. Retrieved 21 December 2021.)

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

It was widely expected that Saif al-Islam would be running for presidency of Libya and he

certainly made his intentions clear in that regard. For instance, on 11 June 2021, The Times spoke exclusively with political representatives of Saif, who revealed that he was planning to make a return to public life, including possibly running for president, and had been courting

foreign diplomats to re-establish his viability (Tunis, Samer al-Atrush. “Gaddafi’s son Saif

al-Islam wants to run for Libya president”. The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 7 July 2022.)

Furthermore, and in a July 2021 interview with The New York Times, his first interview with western media in ten years, Gaddafi attacked Libyan politicians for their governance since the

2011 First Libyan Civil War, describing them as having “raped the country”. Gaddafi hinted that he was running for president. Commenting on his years-long absence from public life, he said

“You need to come back slowly, slowly. Like a striptease. You need to play with their minds a little (Worth, Robert F.; Nga, Jehad (30 July 2021). “Qaddafi’s Son Is Alive. And He Wants to Take Libya Back”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 31 July 2021. Retrieved 30 July 2021.) And on 14 November 2021, making his first public appearance since June 2014, Gaddafi confirmed his intention to run for the presidency of Libya, registering his nomination in the southern city of Sebha (“Son of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi runs for president”. 14 November 2021.) And to make things more

Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar

Interestingly, in October 2021, the Israel Hayom reported that a female model representing Saif signed a contract with an Israeli consulting firm to run his presidential campaign (“Libya’s Election Campaigns Are Run by Israelis: The Full Story”. Al Bawaba. Retrieved 11 February 2023.)

Qaddafi’s aspirations for the presidency is not guaranteed by any stretch of imagination as he faces several hurdles most serious of which is his conviction of crimes which bars him from running for any public office. To that end, and on 16 November, Libya’s High National Election Commission rejected Gaddafi’s candidacy on grounds that under Libyan law, his criminal

convictions disqualified him from holding a political office (“Libyan court reinstates Saif

Gaddafi as presidential candidate”. Al Jazeera. 2 December 2021. Retrieved 3 December 2021.) And on 28 November, Gaddafi stated to Al Arabiya that Libyan judicial authorities refused to hold hearings on his disqualification appeal (“Saif al-Islam Gaddafi says judges refuse to hold hearing on disqualification appeal”. Al Arabiya. 28 November 2021. Retrieved 28 November 2021.) However, on 2 December 2021, a Libyan court ruled that Saif be reinstated as a presidential candidate (“Saif Al Islam Qaddafi reinstated as Libyan presidential candidate”. The National. 2 December 2021. Retrieved 2 December 2021.) Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported that Saif had secretly visited Egypt and met with President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Egyptian Chief of Intelligence Abbas Kamel before his reinstatement (ex_admin (5 December 2021). “Saif Gaddafi secretly visited Egypt for a meeting with El-Sisi”. Libyan Express. Retrieved 24 January 2022.)

Muamar Qaddafi

Gamal Hosni Mubarak of Egypt

The BBC reported on May 22 of this year that a tweet by Gamal’s younger brother, Alaa, has triggered a strong debate of whether Gamal is considering a run for the top job in Egypt in the election scheduled for next year. That debate was dominated by the question if Gamal is even

eligible to run given that he was convicted in 2014 and was sent for imprisonment for four years

for his part in what is known as “the case of the presidential palaces” in which it was alleged that the the Mubaraks (Hosni, Alaa, and Gamal) embezzled the equivalent of US$17.6 million of

state funds intended for renovation of presidential palaces but were instead diverted to upgrade private family homes. The court ordered the repayment of US$17.6 million, fined the trio

US$2.9 million, and sentenced Mubarak to three years in prison and each of his sons to four years. They were retried and convicted again in May 2015 (Malsin, Jared (9 May 2015). “Egypt: Hosni Mubarak sentenced to three years in prison”. The Guardian.) In October 2015 he and his brother were released from prison, based on time already served (“Egypt court orders release of Hosni Mubarak’s sons”. The Guardian. Associated Press. 12 October 2015.)

Gamal Mubarak

Gamal’s aspirations to the presidency

After some legal moves on the part of the Egyptian judiciary and Gamal and his family serving their punishment which ended in 2021, this meant that Gamal Mubarak had the absolute right to enter the political world. If he wants to establish a new party or join one of the existing parties to run for parliament, for example, he can do so. Accordingly, Gamal Mubarak had moved from reaction to action, whitewashing his reputation and recycling his family’s activity on May 18, 2022, when he spoke for the first time since his father was overthrown.

Gamal appeared, speaking in a video, about what he called the innocence of his family from all accusations of financial corruption.

He said that his family has endured false allegations, and extensive judicial investigations have not proven any illegal activity for ten years. Then he sent a message to his father saying Hosni Mubarak was always confident, despite all the odds, that his family would win in the end, and it had already won.

Gamal’s statement, which he made in English and then in Arabic, came after the Swiss prosecution closed an investigation into the source of funds belonging to the family due to the lack of sufficient evidence of the money laundering charge against the Mubarak family and people affiliated with the regime.

It also released 400 million Swiss francs after the release of 200 million others, figures equivalent at the time to about 11 billion Egyptian pounds.

The other move that sparked controversy was on May 16, 2022, when Gamal Mubarak appeared, condoling Abu Dhabi Crown Prince at the time (and current president) Mohammed bin Zayed during the funeral of Khalifa bin Zayed.

This was the first time that Gamal had traveled outside the country, and had pictures, since the January 2011 revolution.

This reinforced the idea that Mubarak’s son sought to play a different role, far beyond what exists, especially since he always participates in social and humanitarian events (Al-Estiklal Newspaper, March 17, 2023.)


As seen above, all the characters in question have several elements in common that were used or will be used in their aspirations to succeed their fathers as presidents in their respective countries. And in the case of Bongbong Marcus proved to be highly effective in achieving the required results.

The strategies used and being used to return to power by recycling the former dictators through the election of their offsprings include;

  • Creating an atmosphere of nostalgia around the former dictator’s reign, whereas they are remembered as strong leaders whose harsh tactics were necessary to achieve stability and peace in the face of formidable internal and external threats. Therefore, these tactics are This nostalgia becomes more prominent as time passes and those who lived the dictators reigns either die or get older in age
  • Documented historical facts of gross and excessive human rights violations are either whitewashed, downplayed, or outright denied as fabricated by others to slander those leaders
  • Comparison with the current state of affairs in the country in This is especially true in Iraq and Libya who have experienced similar circumstances of chaos, weak

central governments in the face of strong regional powers, rampant lawlessness, powerful militias who operate independent of the law with allegiances to external powers, colossal corruption on all levels, systematic theft of natural resources, crime, etc. These phenomena gave a high credence to the time when those dictators ruled with an iron fist and safety and security was the norm. It is also important to note that in each of those

countries expectations of a much brighter future after years of dictatorship were highly unrealistic or in best cases exaggerated. This is to large extent similar to the great disappointment of the citizens of the former Soviet bloc countries of eastern Europe who mistakenly expected a period of an instant wealth and prosperity which never really materialized

In the case of Reza Pahlavi, this writer believes that he has no chance whatsoever of having any role, let alone returning as the next Shah, in the near future in Iran. This is due to the fact,

among many things, the strength of the current Iranian government and its iron grip on power there. Also, this writer believes, as illustrated in the paragraphs above, that Pahlavis enjoys the backing of only a small portion of the population in Iran consisting mostly of ex monarchists, wealthy landowners, military officers, etc. This is in addition to the fact that half of Iran’s population was under 35 years old in 2012 (“International News”. ABC News. 30 November 2012. Archived from the original on 1 august 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2012), i.e. mostly

after the 1979 revolution, and have not experienced life under the shah whether positive or negative

In the case of Raghad, this writer highly doubt that she will have any role, at least public, given that the two main social components of Iraq (Shitte and Kurds) who have suffered the most under his reign have the upper hand and control most of the high positions in the government

and, therefore, highly unlikely for her to be an acceptable figure. Muzahim Al-Huweit, head of the Tribal Association, and a close associate of current Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani, indicated that “Raghad will not return. We will stop her, even if by absolute force.” He went on to say “Iraqis reject the Baath regime and will not allow it to return.”

Dr. Abdul Karim Al-Wazzan, a former professor of media at the University of Baghdad, told The Media Line that “the return of the Baath Party to power will not be easy.” “They now certainly have people inside the government, within the parliament and in various government agencies, but this does not mean that they control a great deal of the Iraqi scene,” he added. “Raghad is not very popular. Perhaps, if she returns, she will be an icon of change only, but she will certainly not hold any political position, as she is not fit for that,” he also said.

“There will be no coup. People affiliated with the Baath Party may enter the elections and the government,” Wazzan asserted, adding: “Even the Arab countries will not be satisfied with this change. Yes, Raghad may return to Iraq with her father’s body, but not with a military coup, perhaps with procedures and arrangements that are currently taking place inside closed rooms.”

(The medialine, Iraq’s Government Ends Its Fight Against Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, 3/3/2023.)

For Seif el-Islam to have a role in Libya many hurdles have to be overcome and these include legal problems, the sharp divisions in the country, the strong tribal nature of the society, powerful militias, strong military rival, two competing governments, harsh economic conditions, etc. are

some of these hurdles which make it highly difficult for him to prevail.

Finally, in the case of Gamal Mubarak, this writer believes that he will not fare that much better than Pahlavi, Ragad, and Seif el-islam given, agin, his legal troubles, the strength of the regime in Cairo, and his father’s (Hosni) unpopularity which culminated into a massive popular revolt in 2011.

The conclusion of this writer is that none of these figures have a chance of ruling, directly or indirectly, their respective countries and have the luck Bongbong had in the philippines. But again, and as in the case of Bongbong who defied all logics, and as it was stated by Churchill, anything is possible in politics.