Category Archives: January 25


لا يوجد جيش مصري There is no Egyptian Army

لا هناك جيش مصري There is no Egyptian Army

“Now the whole world knows that the Egyptian Army are cowards and there’s no point in making peace with Egypt.”

Under the red

“If the army is a red line, who’s the black and white?”

The changes aren’t even skin deep

Egyptian army watches Egyptians on February 11

The military watches on as Egypt celebrates Muabark's ouster on February 11

This post was written in response to the events outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo on the night of May 15.

Today Israel killed at least 13 demonstrators on its borders with Lebanon and Syria. Demonstrators taking the opportunity of Nakba Day to draw attention to the historic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948 by the terrorist predecessor of the savage Israeli army had that brutality turned on them. Just as it was abhorrent to the Mubarak regime in Egypt for his corrupt police state to be challenged and just as it’s inconceivable for the Assad regime to contemplate giving up its ownership of Syria, Israel will not abide with having its right to brutally ride over bones challenged.

Tonight, Egyptian demonstrators were shot at as Egyptian soldiers wounded more than 300 and arrested 186 for bringing their anger to bear on the Israeli embassy. A facility whose very illegitimacy is made clear by the fact that it has to nestle on 15th floor of a residential building; Egyptians as a human shield inside and as canon fodder on the street below. But the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Egypt’s de facto government since it pushed Mubarak aside on February 11, doesn’t have to worry about stirring a slumbering public opinion against it by shooting protesters.  As a cursory look at the comments for this article in Dostour reporting the night’s events reveal, for many people it is “not the time for it [protests]”, so that justifies the army’s brazen brutality.

But more than that, by opening live fire on the protesters, the army has once again shown the sneer that crawls on its face when confronted by disobedient citizens. The same sneer with which Mubarak’s police state viewed us all. And under that contemptuous expression, lies the same dark vices of power. So how familiar is it with the other vices of the corrupt regime?

That the country’s fate is still in their hands despite the obvious diseased genes it shares with Mubarak’s regime is, among other factors, down to its apparent cleansing of public office and its tanks. The main course of action pursued by the military council since assuming power has been a visible uprooting of the corruption endemic through all state institutions from business and politics through to education and health. By cutting off the thirsty heads of this plant, the army has made it seem to have the best interests of the country at heart, throwing it into immediate contrast with the old regime. A convenient by-product, for the military, of this purge – or motivation in itself – is that it has rid itself of the robber baron free-marketers who undermined the generals’ place in the black heart of the Egyptian state.

That the investigations into all this illegally grabbed wealth is being conducted by the already existing Illicit Gains Authority gives undeserved legitimacy to a body that until now has been nothing more than a political tool used by the regime to target its opponents. A general-prosecutor, Mahmoud Abdel Meguid, once rendered bound and gagged by anti-corruption laws, or complicit in all that went on, is now revolutionary Egypt’s crusader against the previous regime’s crimes. But, as ever, his current masters are off-limits. And while the military council professes to have no interest in ruling in the future, it seems adamant to make use of its time in power to paint itself as part of the crusade despite having been chin deep in the pile before January 25.

New institutions are needed, but for now further reaching questions will suffice. Mubarak’s men sliced up the country’s assets and threw away its citizens’ futures without having to worry what the papers wrote. They could be explicit because their power had become absolute, their will and greed the winds of fate blowing poison heat around. But what of those out of sight? Amaney Jamal, the political science professor whose speculation on Hosni Mubarak’s wealth went viral around the world’s media, claims that he was cutting deals while still in the military, before he saw Sadat cut down by bullets. And with billions of American aid pouring into the army each year, in a general climate where corruption is a cup of tea, does it all go into weapons and training? How much is known about the generals sitting round that table and pushing Egypt’s course during this crucial interim period when the gains of the revolution can be entrenched or compromised?

But to find that out, you’d need watchdog agencies rather than the bloodhounds we have here. Sent out to catch its master’s prey.

Kings in khaki try to hijack Egypt’s revolution

Authority can't put conditions on Egypt's revolution

The army is in control and for a night that worked because they were something else. Something other than a corrupt dictator and the thieves that made up his family and cabinet. But the army is in control and whether it’s short term or they have other plans and regardless of how they came to slide into the throne, when they say stop, you’re meant to stop. Orders, chain of command. And in a regimented world like that, protesting is akin to mutiny.

“The people’s legitimate demands will be met,” the supreme council of the armed forces declared right before Mubarak dripped off. “We’ve given them enough, if we keep giving them what they want next they’ll ask us to marry (them off),” a bendy legged soldier complained to me as he pointed to Tahrir Square where the night before this army had beaten, chased and electrocuted sleeping protesters. He couldn’t understand why the protesters were still there. “They want Shafiq to go because Mubarak appointed him, but he did that after they wanted him to change the ministers.”

But I don’t expect a man whose days are spent following orders to understand. Especially when those orders are in direct contrast with the will of a perceived mutiny. It doesn’t matter what the army thinks, this isn’t their show; they’re just interlopers as tarnished at the top as the old brass hands that for decades choked Egyptians. Now the television’s lights are somewhere else but the spirit is as sharp. The revolution that overthrew Mubarak has now come up against another entrenched dog. This one took longer to bare its teeth but if anyone thought curfews, military checkpoints and tanks on the street meant the revolution was going to be delivered without interference on its course to free elections, a decent parliament and a clean state, they were looking for an excuse to rest after the exertions of 18 days spent chipping at the granite clad crooks.

“Give them a chance to do something, they haven’t had enough time yet,” I keep being told. And nor should they (Shafiq, the army, all remnants from the rotten regime) have any time. What’s at stake now is Egypt’s fate. This isn’t a once in a generation opportunity, it’s rarer than that. The changes so far are cosmetic; some new faces heading inept ministries who swore their allegiance to Field Marshall Tantawi and rhetoric with a cursory nod to the people. The people whose pushing and dignified courage means they have earned the right to be more than spectators to what might unfold. There is no way that the country’s fate should be or can be handed over to the same people who benefited or were complicit in the rampant corruption and nefarious brutality that is up against a wall now that Egypt has stood up.

However promising the talk emanating with the stench of collusion from the obscure relations between the supreme council of the armed forces and Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq’s cabinet, it will both limit and compromise the potential of real, long lasting freedom and political accountability in Egypt. The sacrifices, the momentum, the shaking off of the tyrant’s choke, these cannot be in vain, and it is the chance of that transpiring that cannot be given to these old men in tarnished suits and military uniforms. The future now belongs to the generation that rose up and dared to believe what previous ones didn’t even dare to dream. It is by staying on the streets, maintaining the occupation of Tahrir and other centres of protest that a people without true representation in rooms of power where their futures are being discussed and carved out can maintain the pressure and let the power brokers know they are accountable, they are being watched. And if that means testing the patience of grey men in khaki, it is far better than waking up in six months to find the revolution was left to turn on the same crooked circle.