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Interests

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Mahmoud Salem

Mahmoud Salem

Our dear military, we have a problem, and one that needs to be addressed immediately. We seem to have conflicting interests, and I fear that those interests, or rather your interests, will destroy this country for years to come, against the wishes of all of your supporters. Allow me to break it down for you, since this is a sensitive topic, and I know how sensitive you get, but you do need an intervention to save you from yourselves. Consider it tough love, and don’t arrest me, since I am not big on public toilets, and I hear that the ones in your prisons are not fun to use. Let’s begin, shall we?

It’s in the country’s interest to have strong political leaders to represent the insanely conflicting factions that make up our society. Your interest in promoting yourself by capitalising and promoting Al-Sisi’s popularity has not only created a bubble that is already bursting, it also made it impossible for any other politician, old or new, to present themselves on the scene as a leader, because how can they possibly compete? And if they are not strong, how will they become the buffer that the government needs them to be to get us through those times without everyone pointing the finger to you?

It’s in the country’s interests to separate the military from civilian affairs, so that you don’t have to go through removing weak presidents every two years in order to ensure basic stability in the country. Your interest in maintaining all of the military privileges, which are so deeply entrenched in the civilian government, will force you to always be on the forefront of the government whether you want to or not. Hell, the military trials article will solely ensure this, let alone your economic empire, need to place retired generals to run state institutions and your monopoly on land ownership.

The country’s interest is to make economic structural changes to stop us from going into a recession and reduce the hyper inflation to come. Your interest in maintaining the military’s popularity is making you spend money on things like bailing out indebted women prisoners, or paying off the debt of the white taxi owners, which is in billions. Sure, they will be grateful and forever sing your praises, but do you know what happens when you pump money into a system without any increase in production to justify it? More inflation, which will lead to more economic recession. Add to that your plan to buy second-grade weapons with no replacement parts from Russia with money you don’t have that you aim to get from the Gulf – who are not happy with Russia over their support for Bashar – so that you can pocket some commissions and appear to a largely ignorant population that you are engaging in geopolitical maneuvering is already making your Gulf partners antsy, who would rather you spend the money on the economy to stabilise the country. But who cares, as long as large ignorant segments of the population cheer because they still believe we are in the Cold War era and we are showing strength, right?

The country’s interest is in the return to stability and security the fastest way possible, which is not happening as long as the economic grievances are not addressed and the Islamists continue their protests and attacks on your soldiers. Your interest in projecting the image of the strong state, in light of your failure to stop the MB from going to the streets despite mass arrests, sentencing and utilisation of deadly force, is causing you to go after revolutionary activists and their tiny protests, because you know they won’t violently challenge you or carry weapons. Despite the lack of popularity of those you arrested, like Alaa, the act antagonises the revolution’s audience, which you know is bigger than you would like others to believe. With even those challenging you, alongside with your check-points and intelligence buildings that get blown up almost on weekly basis, how will that strong state image hold up exactly?

This finally brings us to your interest in having a stable state whose economy isn’t completely dead, which if you decide to go after the revolutionaries, while you are still fighting the Islamists, will never ever happen. The Islamist violence is causing half of the country’s potential investment to go away, but the crackdown on non-Islamists will cause the other half to disappear. Plus, you will be dealing with two enemies- one has an excellent ground game (the MB) and the other is superb at marketing and media utilisation (the revolutionaries). You want to take them both down now, when you are in desperate need of getting the economy going since you can’t spend on the country forever? Do you understand the forces you are antagonising? Do you even have a strategy that wasn’t written in the 1980s?

I can’t really blame you, since it makes sense that you would act this way, since this is the way every single political player in Egypt acts. The problem in Egypt is that victory is never enough for any player; anything other than complete decimation of the enemy is unacceptable. The other problem is that complete decimation of any faction is impossible & its failure signals the winning players weakness & overreach. Also, every faction, once in position of influence or power in society, aims it towards attacking the other factions. Everyone did this, and you are doing it now again, despite that it never really worked for anyone.

You had already defeated the revolutionaries by getting them to be part of the 30 June alliance, for they accepted being part of it believing that you had learned from the past mistakes and understood that every party would need to compromise and work together, and for revolutionaries, compromise equals a defeat to begin with. That compromise from revolutionaries to reformers, that defeat they suffered and victory you won, it wasn’t enough for you. You want to crush them, and take away their dignity after you defeated them, forgetting that they are that segment whose driving force in life, and the reason they started this revolution to begin with, is preserving their dignity as humans. Thus the inevitable conclusion: the 30 June alliance is broken, and this is going to be a bigger problem than you are anticipating. Your bet of holding onto power by being the driving force behind any president we choose will not work out, because sooner or later we will arrive at a standstill again, because of the economy. And this time, it’s going to be bad.

I would like to remind you that half of the country is under 35 and that the majority of the under 25 generation is with us. I would like to remind you that this country is made of individuals who prefer radical solutions to reasonable ones, and once they realize that your way isn’t working, they will more and more embrace revolutionary positions. I would like to remind you that you, and the police, with all of your weapons, will not be able to stop public rage by brute force, since the entire country is drowning in weapons now, and your people are easier to identify and target than their potential attackers, which if brute force continued without an improving economy, will be everyone and anyone angry enough or desperate enough to do something violent and stupid.

I would like to remind you that your state will either evolve or die. That just like there was nowhere for the Muslim Brotherhood to go other than trying to become the new NDP, there is nowhere for you to go other than becoming a despised violent gang that controls the country by sheer firepower, which given its size and your dependence on draftees from the same people you will oppress, won’t serve you for long. You don’t want that, and we don’t want that for you, which means you will have to back down from your complete and utter victory strategy, because there won’t be a victory. There won’t be anything.

Please also realise that we won’t even fight you, we old revolutionaries. We don’t need to. We have generations upon generations ready of youth that have no place and no future under your reign, have the anger to be a real continuous problem for you, and learned the tools from watching us. They are the internet generation, and they are legion. They are already half of the country, and without economic growth in the double digits, which you will never get without tourism, you will have them turn against you. That is, of course, besides the MB, which you have no idea how to kill since you don’t have the capacity to engage in the war of ideas necessary to do so, and need them so you can have your forbidden group that you believe will strengthen your rule. That won’t work, because they are done being an underground group, the same way people with dissenting views are done hiding them.

It’s a brave new world out there, and you will need all the friends you can find, and you are losing them all very quickly. It’s time to rethink your interests, because what you are doing right now may not seem like it from the scores who support you now out of fear of the MB and chaos, but you are on the verge of committing suicide, and you will take the whole country down with you. Best of luck either way.

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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