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O’ Army, save us?

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This is where we are probably heading and it frightens the hell out of me.  The self-proclaimed Islamists refuse to see it.

The situation in Egypt has taken a downturn in the last three months in ways that are hard to describe; prices of almost all basic food items have skyrocketed, and talks about a price hike in gas and oil and the possibility of removing subsidies are the main concern; police are barely present on the streets while a continuous flood of “fresh” torture cases blamed on police forces are piling up; a wave of attacks of veiled women on non-veiled women has mothers warning their daughters against riding the metro; unemployment has caused a new wave of emmigration etc..

The situation is dire to say the least.

People are getting angrier and more frustrated every day.  “This is not the Egypt we know” and “People did not die in a revolution for this to be the situation” are two of the most common sentences heard in any conversation among Egyptians nowadays.

The failure of the current political powers to unite over a course of action, a weak government with no vision, and contradictory statements and declarations by some rabid Islamists – as seen in last Friday demonstration in Tahrir square, on taking up arms and implementing their version of Islamic Shari’a by force – have caused the majority of Egyptians to agree on one thing; there is no future plan for Egypt.

There is a well-known idiom in Egypt “he who does not have an elder should buy one.” It is a telling metaphor. The need of a leader is a must, someone who provides vision and a plan.

A guy, who is poorer than most, asked me, “why won’t the army intervene and just grab hold of the country?” For a minute I lost the ability to talk. I was stunned, “did you not see what they did to the country during the transitional period? They have blood on their hands; Maspero, Mohamed Mahmoud and even Port Said!” He appeared unfazed and said, “Well it was better than the conditions now.”

This man is not alone in his way of thinking and here lies the dangerous cycle into which we are about to fall; incapable government followed by the army, again! Large segments of the population are now more than willing to fall into the deceptively loving bosom of the Egyptian army.  Think about what is happening in Sinai nowadays, with reports on militants and Jihadists filling Sinai and killing police and army officers, on a bi-weekly basis. Headlines in the international press say that the army wants to capture and kill the militants in Sinai but Morsy wants to negotiate with them!

This fuzzy approach to politics, lead by Morsy, has to stop. The unspoken of deal the Muslim Brotherhood brokered with SCAF (intitiated during the meeting they held with Omar Suleiman in February 2011, in throes of the revolution) will not hold when the Egyptian people – tired, hungry and more impoverished – take to the streets demanding the downfall of Morsy and his weak government.

The inability to provide for your family is a major motivator for action. And who will be ready with a plan and a huge organisation to support the people? Which single apparatus is more than willing to come in and act as the Egyptian’s knight in shining armour? Yes, the Egyptian army. That’s the correct answer, you get a gold star!

The Egyptian army has a lot to answer for; from the people massacred in Maspero and Port Said, to their personal budget and the food, cement and steel companies they own. Morsy made the generals “untouchable” by honouring Tantawi and Anan who both have cases against them for killing protesters. It’s a carte blanche to anyone wearing the khaki uniform to do as they will, broker a deal and have the safe exit they seek.

We made a revolution and had high hopes, we didn’t wish for this mess of a situation. Not even 5 per cent of our expectations have been met. Besides this we are now facing extreme poverty.

The next wave of the revolution will not be guided by the middle class, but by the poor whose one demand is “food.” It will be violent to say the least. The people will be frightened out of their wits and will ask for “control.” Who can offer this control? The Brotherhood? The police? No, the army and it will be done at the demand of the people for protection.

Remember “the Egyptian army belongs to the Egyptian people and is to serve them.” This sentence alone, which is the supposed creed of the army, is daunting under current conditions.

The army (among other organisations) has refused the draft constitution, written by an Islamists majority. The future does not bode well for Morsy and his posy. Three weeks ago he fired the chief editor of state owned Al-Gomhoria after one of his reporters dared to write that Tanatwi and Anan will be referred to the Illicit Gains Authority.

The circle is tightening and they refuse to see it, still protecting the “deal.”

I never previously quite understood the phrase, “History is boring as it tends to repeat itself.” Does it ever! We are heading back to the transitional period (11 February 2011 – 30 June 2012) and it is looking scary!

About the author

Sara Abou Bakr

Politics editor at Daily News Egypt Twitter: @sara_ab5


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