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The Civilian Products of Military Factories

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Mahmoud SalemLast Thursday the news websites greeted us with a picture of the US Ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, celebrating the decision of the US department of agriculture to allow the importation of Egyptian strawberries to the American market by opening a box of strawberries and eating one.

On that same day, we were also greeted with the smiling picture of Egyptian Secretary of Defence Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, celebrating with fellow generals the great achievement of finally opening the renovated laundry room in the Egyptian military academy.

Two days earlier, there was a picture of ex-supreme constitutional court Judge, Tahany Al Gebaly, next to a story saying that she, alongside many opposition politicians, is calling on the Egyptian military to return to politics and take back power from the Muslim Brotherhood .

Fifty Shades of Grey doesn’t hold a candle to the masochism fix I get from reading the news every morning.

The notion of the army executing a coup against President Morsi and taking back power is becoming very popular in many circles in Egyptian society, especially amongst the non-politicised factions. If anything, it showcases the deep disenchantment that the average Egyptian feels with the Muslim Brotherhood government and its mismanagement of the country, alongside the political opposition.

As the signs of the vanishing of the state and the impending economic apocalypse that is about to hit Egypt keep piling up, many people are starting to romanticise the good old days of SCAF rule. While not entirely surprising for the average non-politicised citizen to hold such views, the fact that they are being echoed by revolutionaries and conservatives alike is outrageously hilarious to say the least.  Let’s go over the logic of this popular idea, shall we?

When it comes to the revolutionaries who are advocating the idea, logic doesn’t even factor into their argument, for it is based on exhaustion, horror and desperation.

So, instead of actually discussing its many logical flaws, let’s imagine it in a letter form, shall we?  “Dear Army, can you please create a coup against Morsi and quite possibly enter into a state of civil war with armed Islamists, but not rule us? And while you are at it, can you possibly be a dear and stop those military trials against us, allow us to take a look into your finances to regulate them and quite possibly elect a civilian to be your leader? That will be all, we promise.  XOXO, the Revolutionaries. PS: What’s taking so long? ”.

Sigh…

The Conservatives have other fantasies. They believe the military institution to be a patriotic institution whose primary focus is Egyptian national security, which is severely threatened by having armed Islamist Jihadis running unchecked in the country and the army’s infiltration by Muslim Brotherhood officers. Due to those two reasons, and insider sources of course, they believe that the military wants to overthrow Morsi, but needs the people’s support first.

Once that is solid, the military will overthrow Morsi, arrest (or kill… semantics, really!) all the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, and bring in a civilian government.  Never mind that it was under SCAF rule that those armed Jihadists came back to the country in their thousands, and they did nothing about it.

Never mind that it was under SCAF rule that they got their weapons smuggled into the country, or that the person responsible for ensuring that such arms wouldn’t get smuggled, the chief of Egyptian military intelligence under SCAF, is the current Secretary of Defence who is supposedly concerned by it. It should also be noted that the military under him was the signatory and supporter of a constitution that no longer prohibits the formation of civilian militias. Under him, the military will engineer a coup against Morsi? The military itself would need to have a coup first for that to happen.

But let’s pretend that none of those facts are true, the question remains:  Why should the military overthrow this president for your sake? What do you have to offer them in return? They already have financial autonomy, they can still militarily try anyone they feel like, their US aid money is not being threatened and they can do anything they damn please with zero accountability.

What do you have to offer them? What more could they possibly want? Let’s assume they hate the Muslim Brotherhood and care about your well being as proposed; why would they assume the administrative and financial responsibility of ruling the country as it is entering its worst economic crisis in decades? Wouldn’t it be strategically better for them not to deal with this unruly impossible-to-please-population, let the Muslim Brotherhood carry all the blame, while they remain the shiny better alternative in your eyes?

One last thing to consider: Tantawi and Anan, with all their faults, were old enough to have seen and participated in actual war, which is why spilling Christian blood in Maspiro or revolutionary blood in the Egyptian cabinet sit-in didn’t ruffle their feathers. The current SCAF, on the other hand, is staffed with a generation that has never seen war, and grew in the ranks as the military’s economic empire grew in size.

So, not only are they not mentally or psychologically equipped to handle the civil war that will follow that coup, but for that generation, being the secretary of defence is like becoming the CEO of a billion dollar corporation that doesn’t pay taxes and isn’t regulated by anyone, whose employees can and will get jailed for not doing their job or following his directives, that also has its own food security, and organised trained armed men to defend its assets.

In short, it’s any CEO’s wet dream. Why would anyone leave that job to become the CEO of a bloated bankrupt company whose ever-critical employees don’t work, are always on strike, consumed with in-fighting, refuse to follow his orders, and always want more money?

Would you?

About the author

Mahmoud Salem

Mahmoud Salem

Mahmoud Salem is a political activist, writer, and social media consultant. His writings could be found at www.sandmonkey.org and follow him @sandmonkey on Twitter


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