The brutal Army occupation of Egypt
Dr Firoz Mahboob Kamal
The terror industry and the crimes
The Muslim World’s worst tragedies owe not only to foreign occupations but also to internal occupations by the home-grown tyrants. Many of the horrendous massacres and atrocities in Muslim countries are committed by these internal enemies. Egypt and Syria are the two recent examples. On 2 February 2011, Husni Mubarak –three-decade old Army dictator of Egypt was removed by 14 days’ street protest. But after a gap of only a year following the electoral victory of Egypt’s first democratic President Dr Mohammad Morsi on 24 June in 2012, the Egyptian Army again took back the power on 3 July 2013. The country got again trapped under the brutal rule of the Army –led by General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. The country is now highly polarised with a deep internal split. It is divided into two main camps: one belongs to the Islamists and the other belongs to the secularists.
Like any other Muslim country in the world, the Egyptian Army is the bastion of the secularists and plays the role of defender of secularism. The secularists also have a profound love for these Army tyrants. Hence they celebrated the Army coup against Islamist President Dr. Molrsi. Like most Muslim countries, Egypt, too, has strong foreign stakeholders. These are the USA, the EU and Israel. Because of its border with Israel, Egypt has special importance in the club of foreign stakeholders. They have a heavy investment in Egyptian politics. The USA alone invests 1.3 billion US dollars annually. All these stakeholders –along with the Army consider Islamists as the common enemy. The Army is more aligned with the external stakeholders. Hence, whenever the Islamists get closer to power, the Army –with the approval of the external stakeholders come out of the garrison to take control. Once it was a common phenomenon in Turkey. The same happened in Algeria in 1991 when the Army made a coup to foil an emerging landslide electoral victory of the Islamists. The USA and the EU are ever-ready to support such coups.
The polarization in Egyptian politics is not new. But the war-like mobilisation, the intensity of polarization, and the cruelty of killings are new. The army has manufactured a full-fledged war out of the divisive ingredients in politics. It has named its anti-Islamists campaign as a “war on terror”. Thus the Army hits two birds by one stone. Firstly, it could create enough ideological cum political ground to align with the USA-led war on Islam and to qualify for the USA’s strong diplomatic and economic support. Secondly, it could manufacture reasons to commit massacre against the Islamists. The Army has turned cities like Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said, Arish and the whole of Sinai Peninsula into war zones. Hence, tanks, artillery guns, helicopters, armoured vehicles, machine guns and thousands of war-ready troops get back in the streets. They could also make the police and the judiciary parts of the killing machine.
The army claims that they returned to power only to fight terrorism and promote democracy. But the emerging events in Egypt tell otherwise. Terrorism has never been a tool of the unarmed street protestors. It has always been the weapon of the armed thugs and the Egyptian Army. The unarmed street protestors are the innocent victims. Since the fascist rule of Col. Gamal Abdul Nasser in the fifties, the Egyptian Army proved to be the country’s most brutal terror industry. Now they fight to protect the same legacy. Using the state-run terror, the Army ruled Egypt for more than 70 years and never bothered to go for a fair election. A fair election could happen only in 2012 after the end of Husni Mobarak’s autocratic rule. As a result, Dr Muhammad Morsi could emerge as the first elected president in whole Egyptian history. But such election victory made him the number one enemy of the Army.
The Army: the ruling clan of Egypt
Egypt’s Army is much more than a professional army. It is a powerful ruling clan. Like monarchs and feudal aristocrats, the Egyptian Army developed its own powerful organisational bureaucratic culture through its 70 years of rule. In that cultural domain, a civilian receives little respect and recognition. They follow only their own Army chain of command. The Army was not ready to accept even Husni Mobarak’s civilian son Jamal Mubarak as their future ruler. Because Jamal was out of that command chain. This is why the Army didn’t give any fight for Husni Mobarak against the protestors. So, his downfall was surprisingly quick.
Dr Muhannad Morsi’s civilian and Islamic background made him incompatible with that cultural milieu, too. So they desperately needed to remove him. In such a move, Dr Morsi -the unarmed President of Egypt become the first victim of the Army’s so-called war against terror. The question is: What can be the more blatant act of terror than this ugly use of military terror against a civilian president? Autocrats support autocrats. They take democracy as the common enemy. Hence, like the Saudi monarch, all the autocrats of the Arab World were very quick to support General Abdel Fatah Sisi’s coup against President Morsi. But the irony is: very few democratic leaders of the world condemned the coup against an elected President! What a shame that President Obama of the USA called the coup Army’s restoration of democracy!
In Egypt, only the Army has the necessary weapons to terrorise people. The whole of Egypt now stands under the occupation of this terrorist outfit called the Army. To terrorise the unarmed civilians, the Army has deployed its huge war machines on the streets of major Egyptian cities. Only on one day, on Wednesday, 14 August in 2012 and only in one square named Rabaa al Adabiya, the army killed more than two thousand unarmed men and women, and injured many more thousands. According to Muslim Brotherhood –President Morsi’s party, the number of martyrs is 2600. Such a huge massacre in a single day never happened in the whole modern history of Egypt. Again on Friday, on 16 August, after two days of the Rabaa al Adabiya massacre, they killed more than two hundred protestors all over Egypt –one hundred only in Ramsees square in Cairo. On July 7, 2021, more than a hundred unarmed protestors were killed by the republican guards while they gathered in front of the republican guard head-quarter in Cairo. After all these horrendous killings of the unarmed protesters, the Army must answer the question: is it a war against terror or war against unarmed civilians? Can such massacres be part of the roadmap towards democracy, as was envisaged by General Abdul Fattah Sisi –the Army chief?
The Arab spring in 2011 brought some promising positive changes in the Arab world. This part of the world was known for army coups, autocratic fascist rulers and corrupt monarchs. In most Arab countries, basic human rights are conspicuously extinct. However, change started with the ouster of Ben Ali of Tunisia. After Tunisia, a revolution came to Egypt. On 25 January in 2011, sixty years of brutal military rule was ended by the ouster of Husni Mobarak by the street protestors. In Egypt, the Army rule started in 1952 with a coup by Col. Gamal Abdul Nasser and was followed by Anwer Saadat and then came Husni Mubarak. Such a long military rule helped the Egyptian Army to establish itself more as a powerful ruling clan than a professional army. It has a huge vested interest in Egypt’s politics, society and business which they are reluctant to desert. The common people were not given any access to the corridor of power. Neither were they given the basic human rights of free expression and free participation in politics. The USA and the European imperialist power were very happy to work with these repressive military rulers for the last six decades. Now, many Americans like John Bolton –the former security adviser to President Donald Trump run Democracy Project for Turkey. But no democracy project exists for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and other Arab countries run by the autocrats. Rather, these Arab tyrants are used as trustworthy partners in suppressing any democratic movement there. Democracy in the Arab World is taken as a threat to the national security interest of the west and the interest of Israel.
The investment of the USA in Egypt is huge. Since the signing of the Camp David Treaty in 1979, the USA invested 66 billion US dollars in military and non-military sectors. More than 500 Egyptian army officers receive training in the USA annually. General Abdul Fattah –the current ruler attended the US Army War College in Pennsylvania. Another high profile recipient of such training is the Air Force Chief Reda Mahmoud. The main purpose of such training is not to enhance their war skills, rather boost up their compatibility with the US policies of imperialistic hegemony through a deep paradigm shift in thoughts–especially through radical secularisation, deep de-Islamisation and indoctrination with the western world-views. Such indoctrination is giving enormous outcomes for protecting the imperialist interest of the West –not only in Egypt but also in other Muslim countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and others.
The cultural converts of the Muslim Armies look-alike to their western trainers and stand far alienated from the Islam-loving common people of their own country. Therefore what happened in Baghdad, Basra, Fallujah, Ramadi, Kabul or Kandahar by the US army, are also common occurrences in other Muslim cities by the so-called Muslim armies. They feel trigger happy to kill their own people –as now get commonly displayed in the streets of Cairo, Alexandra, Port Said and other Egyptian cities. Such a massacre of the Islamists also happened in Dhaka’s Shapla Square in Motijheel in Bangladesh on 5 May in 2013 and in Islamabad’s Lal Masjid in Pakistan in July 2007 during General Musharraf’s era.
The pet army and the imperialist strategy
The USA fought its longest war in Afghanistan. The defeat in this 20 years’ war has shattered the US confidence. That has brought a major shift in US policy. The USA and her ally are now reluctant to deploy their own forces in a foreign land. They don’t want to see more body bags of their own dead soldiers. Therefore they train and indoctrinate others to fight their wars in Muslim lands. To raise such mercenaries, the USA government donates 1.3 billion US dollars annually to the Egyptian army. Such money and training proved very effective to kill the moral and the cultural immunity of the Muslim trainees. As a result, they turn quickly genocidal. So, they don’t hesitate to launch genocidal massacres against their own people. Since they are doing the job, the USA and her ally do not need to deploy their own troop to kill the anti-Imperialists in any Muslim city. The Egyptian army is a true example of that.
This is why the end of the Army rule in Egypt in January 2011 was so unpalatable to the USA government. The USA’s trusted army generals were thrown out of the central stage of politics. It damaged their strategic goal. Since Dr Mohammad Morsi did not receive any Army training and indoctrination from the USA, they didn’t have any trust in him. Because of the democratic empowerment of the people and democratic institutions like the elected Presidency, the parliament, the common mass emerged as the main stakeholders of the politics –not the army generals. It was difficult both for the USA and the Egyptian army to accommodate such a revolution. Therefore, it became the prime objective of the USA and its ally to bring back the Army to the helm of affairs again. The USA did the same in Iran in the mid-fifties. They installed the deposed Mohammad Reza Shah after removing the elected Prime Minister Sharif Musaddesq. The USA did exactly the same in Chilli in the seventies.
Hence, from day one of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, the Army and their foreign patrons were waiting in ambush to reclaim the power and punish the people for taking part in the revolution. They drew a battle line between the secularists and the Islamists. They started with inciting the secularists against the Islamist President Morsi. Egypt’s deep state, the Army, the former cronies of the deposed Hosni Mubarak, and the secular media aligned with the secularists. During Dr Morsi’s short rule, the deep state created artificial gas, oil, electricity, and water crisis to make him unpopular. Huge money from Saudi Arabia, UAE and the USA flooded the political circles in Egypt to draw more people to the street. The final opportunity came on 3 July 2012 when the army Chief General Abdul Fattah Sisi overthrew Dr Muhammad Morsi.
After capturing the power, the Army turned its guns towards the people to take full revenge. Tanks, heavy artillery guns and other killing machines were rolled on the streets to massacre the unarmed anti-coup protesters –as seen in Rabaa al-Adabiya square of Cairo. General Sisi also dishonoured the popular election verdict by dissolving the elected parliament and throwing the approved constitution to the bin. The USA and its western ally proved again that they do not have any love for democracy in Muslim countries. They relish brutal autocracy there. So, the USA and its ally didn’t condemn even the worst brutality of the Army in Egypt. Thus the Arab World has become the free land for autocrats -protected by the USA-led west. No space is left for democracy. Recently on 25 July 2021, Tunisia -the only surviving democracy in the Middle East also suffered almost the same fate as happened in Egypt in 2012. The Arab secularists and their western allies were not happy with the Islamist al-Nahda’s dominance in the Tunisian parliament. The secularist President Kais Saied froze the parliament and took all power in his own hand. Thus, he appears as an unfettered dictator. So it becomes a pure coup. The Arab Spring thus gets assassinated in its birthplace. The anti-democratic axis of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Bahrain, and Jordan now gets another big success to celebrate. The Middle East proved again to be the Death Valley for democracy. And the US President continues to display the old robust immorality. He fails to tell that coup is a coup, genocide is genocide, and autocracy is autocracy. President Obama showed such immorality in case of the coup in Egypt by General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and President Biden shows the same in the case of Tunisia.
The Return of Mubarak Era
The Egyptian Army could never win any war. In 1967, the Israeli Army could easily take over the whole of Sinai Peninsula. They could only win over the unarmed countrymen. The generals have no love for democracy and no love for democratic values and institutions. In a democracy, the legality of the rule comes only through an election, not by any military coup. In a democratic country, a member of the army does not enjoy any extra power or privilege than any other citizen. But the Egyptian army generals have proven that they are not ready to comply with such equalising norms and values. Rather they have chosen the path exactly opposite to that. They have killed not only the legality of an elected president but also denied the existence of the elected parliament. The rule of law doesn’t work here. Hence the current President doesn’t feel any need to get his appointment through a general election. Democracy also entails a constitutional rule. But the Army also made it non-functional. Hence no such constitution exists in Egypt now. Here, only the military might sets the law of governance. The Army is applying it with full force.
After the removal of Husni Mubarak, the democratic government of Egypt went very fast to establish democratic institutions and procedures to ensure civilian rule. Pakistan took 9 years to frame a constitution. But in Egypt, in a period of only one year, not only a civilian president was elected by a highly contested election, but also a constituent assembly was voted to frame a constitution -which did its job successfully within a few months. The newly made constitution was put to a referendum and the people ratified it by a huge majority. But such achievements did not impress the Army. Rather they were infuriated by the huge empowerment of the people and their Islamic adherence. They did not like the newly built civic institutions like the elected presidency and the parliament either. Hence they pushed the wheel backwards.
Like a tyrant king, the Army Chief dismantled all the progress made in the last year by a single dictatorial announcement. Millions of votes of the people, the newly made constitution, the new constituted parliament and the newly elected President -all were thrown into the bin and the country started being ruled by day to day decrees given by an Army general. All the money, all the time, all the efforts and energy spent to hold so many elections, to run so many sessions and to write a constitution went totally in vain. This is a huge wastage. The country is taken back again to square one. The old autocratic Mubarak era returned back with all of its vices. Is it not enough to kill the confidence in democracy?
President Obama’s moral depletion
The US policy towards the Army coup in Egypt fully exposed the moral depletion of President Barak Obama. The US approval of the coup tells that loudly. The Army take-over was a 100 per cent military coup. It removed an elected President. In any form of democracy, it is a grave crime. An elected government may have a crisis, but a military coup must not be the solution. It must be solved within the democratic norms. But President Obama supported a crime against democracy. His narratives on Egypt looked heavily biased and charged with pro-Army overtone -as if the US government wished and worked for such a coup. Like Gen. Abdul Fattah Sisi, President Obama, too, claimed that the military take-over was made to promote democracy. What could be more childish ridicule than this? Did any Army make any coup in any part of the world to promote democracy? How could he nurture such a wishful optimism about the military coup? It beggars belief that how can a man with such a poor understanding of history be a President of the USA?
President Obama told that the Egyptian Army has popular support. In a democracy, there are established norms to measure the popularity of a person or institution. That is through a free and fair elections. In a city of 15 million, huge money can make the huge rally. The brutal tyrants of the Arab World were not sitting idle to foil democracy in Egypt –their common enemy. They knew, if democracy survives in Egypt, their own survival will be at risk. The USA’s ruling clique was not ready to see the Mubarak-like fate of their comrades in the Arab World. They were all in a coalition to contain or roll back the Arab Spring as quickly as possible. Hence the city of Cairo was flooded with money by the USA, the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to bring people to the streets to protest against an elected President.
In later years, through the fake elections with barred credible opposition candidates, General Sisi showed his disdain for democracy. He could corrupt the whole electoral process to get more than 95 per cent votes in the so-called presidential election. As if, he has done miracles for the people of Egypt. As if, more than 95 per cent of votes owe to those miracles. In comparison, the European and the US leader who won the World War for their countries couldn’t get even 60 per cent votes. Even Winston Churchill –the war-time British Prime Minister lost the post-war election.
The democracy that has been promoted by the Army in Egypt is pure and brutal autocracy. But President Obama put his full faith in the Army that it will promote democracy. What a poor understanding! The Army has its own history and culture. Even an average knows that. The army makes coups only to dismantle democratic institutions and to promote its own hegemony on the state. It only imposes Army’s internal occupation on the people and the state institutions. Even a man with little common sense could foresee such a doomed fate of democracy under the Army rule. But President Obama and his western colleagues couldn’t realise that. It owes to the fact that the agenda of imperialist hegemony and deep love for the Arab tyrants obscured their insight.
After the coup, the US envoy and the EU delegate made visits to Cairo. But they didn’t put any pressure on the Army to avoid eminent blood baths. Rather they tried hard to generate support for the coup. They even tried to persuade the Muslim Brotherhood leaders to accept the coup as a way forward for democracy and to support the Army’s road map. How a party with democratic values and people’s mandate can accept such a coup as a way forward for democracy and take part in an Army-engineered road map? The Army holds elections only to make way for its own people to get elected and to ensure a sure defeat for its political opponents. Rigging election is the finest political art of the autocrat. Hence, Husni Mubarak had no difficulty getting more than 95% votes in each election, and could easily extend his rule for 3 decades. It is sure that General Abdul Fattah Sisi will follow Mubarak’s legacy and will face no difficulty to win any number of elections in the future. He had already shown such skills in rigging two presidential elections in the past. Like Hosni Mubarak and Bashar al-Asad, General Sisi, too, faced no difficulty to get more than 95 per cent of votes in those two elections. Thus the Arab countries proved to be free land for the tyrants. They can manufacture any election result to feed their political craze.
General Sisi also manufactured the needed excuse to make Muslim Brotherhood –his number one political enemy constitutionally illegal. He even labelled Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation. Hence his war on terror was tantamount to a war on Muslim Brotherhood. Fake trials are being arranged to hang hundreds of Islamists. Egypt stands third in the execution of political opponents -after China and Iran. In the whole world, the war on Islam is nowhere so much intense as it is in Egypt. Hence, of all Muslim countries, Egypt receives the highest amount of aid and political support from the USA – the lead country in the war on Islam. The US money is thus being spent on eliminating the Islamists.
The agenda of political hegemony overrides morality
If Barak Obama had any interest in the democratic process in Egypt, he would have at least labelled the Army coup as a coup and asked for the restoration of the legally elected President and the constitution. This way he could frustrate the usurper of the democratic rights of the people by the Army and discourage further coups. But the US government is not taking that route. The imperialist agenda has overridden the democratic agenda. The dismissal of the elected President and the annulment of the constitution by the Army have no legality –neither in Egyptian law, nor in international law. The constitution is the property of the people. Only the people possess the right to make any change in it or discard it. They execute their rights through ballots. The people have not delegated such right to an Army General. Likewise, the President can only be removed by a general election. These are not only the norms in the USA but also in Egypt. In the USA, breaking such norms is a grave criminal offence. The USA constitution prohibits its government from sending any aids to such criminals operating in other countries. But President Obama has taken a different posture. For the sake of protecting such criminals from prosecution and to continue the US aid, he is not even ready to call the criminal a criminal. Nor is he ready to label the criminal act of coup as a coup. Here lies the serious moral deficiency of President Obama. With such sick morality, President Obama can go to any extent with the criminal coup makers. But how can he ask other sane people to support such an insane act?
President Obama didn’t consider the restoration of democratic rights of the common Egyptians helpful for his country’s national security interest. Protecting such interests is taken as a sacred item in US politics. But it is ignored to save the lives of millions of innocent people in another country. The issue of basic human rights also gets ignored. For securing so-called national interests, the US government never hesitated to execute even the worst barbaric option in the past. Other people’s life and right never matter to them. In the past, they did not bother even to drop nuclear atom bombs on the Japanese cities. Neither did they bother to invade counties like Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and others and destroy hundreds of cities and kill millions. Nor do they dislike working with autocratic devils like Saddam, Pinochet or Shah of Iran.
President Obama and his western colleagues must have congratulated the Egyptian Army for doing the same brutalities as the US-led NATO Army did in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. For the USA, such a military coup is not a vice, rather the desired necessity. Hence it is will be naïve to believe that the Army made the coup without President Obama’s prior approval. How the Army leader can make such a serious decision of a coup without the consent of their US paymaster -who made a payment of $66 billion since 1979. The Americans are not so foolish to keep any disobedient and disconnected officer in their payroll.
The Grand Alliance
The coup leaders in Egypt are the long-time trusted partners of the USA. The American national interest lies in protecting not only the American interest but also the interest of Israel. It also entails protecting the oil-reach monarchs in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and others from the emerging Islamists. It implies preventing any Islamic resurgence in the Muslim World. This is why the “war on Islam” becomes so important in the USA-led western agenda. It is also a war on democracy, too. They know very well that democracy in Muslim countries means the victory of Islamists. So closing the door of democracy in the Muslim World is a prime agenda in the USA-led western foreign policy,
After the ouster of Tunisia’s Ben Ali, Egypt’s Husni Mubarak, Libya’s Gaddafi and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, these monarchs of the Gulf countries were trembling for their own turn. The USA was worried not only about the vulnerability of these monarchs but also about their secure oil supply. So it was important for the USA and for her ally to stop the tide of the people’s up-rise without any further delay. Hence they planned and heavily invested in an Army coup in Egypt. This is why the coup in Egypt is not the Army’s own making, rather the joint venture of the USA-led grand alliance. And it became clearer after the coup. Instead of condemning the coup, the US government started giving economic and military aid. Along with US aid, a huge amount of money also started flowing from the Arab monarchs. Saudi Arabia alone gave $5 billion to the coup leaders; many more billions came from Kuwait and UAE.
The Army and its secular comrades not only deposed the elected President and his democratic government but also imposed a very brutal war on the Islamists. In Egyptian history, such crimes of the army and the secularists will never be forgotten and forgiven. The Muslim Brotherhood entered into democratic politics and won the presidency and the majority parliamentary seats by peaceful elections. They even compromised on some sharia issues to make them acceptable to their Democratic colleagues. But the Army and its secular partners do not want them to take that democratic route. In fact, they have dragged them out of the newly-set democratic train. Now the Army and its secular allies are labelling them as Islamic fascists and terrorists. They are using the same allegations against the Islamists as were used by the Americans against Al Qaida affiliates after the nine-eleven and during the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. So the implied message to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists is clear: “You –the Islamists, have no place in democracy –even if you get majority votes in elections. It is the sole domain of pro-western secularists and liberalists.” So, the question arises, is it an argument for political reconciliation cum peaceful co-existence? Such a notion can only provoke to political elimination of the Islamists. And the Army and its ally have already taken that route. So the agenda is clear, they are decided to take a warpath. They want to make another Afghanistan in the Middle East.
To justify their coup, the Army and its secular affiliates are spreading a lot of lies against the Islamists. They are telling that Muslim Brotherhood members are terrorists and they had weapons while had a sit-in in Rabaa Al Adweya and Al-Nahda squares. But there is no proof of such allegation. Many foreign journalists and human rights activists were there. None could find any trace of such arms among the Islamists. Moreover, how could they label Dr Muhammad Morsi and his supports as fascists and terrorists? While Dr Muhammad Morsi was the President, no massacre took place in any part of Egypt. No gun, no tank, no artillery and no helicopter gunship were deployed to terrorise and kill people in any city. On the contrary, Dr Morsi’s opponents caused havoc on Cairo’s streets. They killed Muslim Brotherhood’s many workers and destroyed many offices including the party’s headquarter. The ruling army and its secular bedfellows made it clear that they are not ready to give any pace for the Islamists in Egypt’s politics. Rather, they are desperate to break their backbone –as was tried by Gamal Abdun Nasser and Husni Mubarak in the past. Now the Islamists have their back on the wall. They have only two options: either to surrender or fight back. But the concept of surrender does not exist in Islamists’ vocabulary. So, resistance is not only eminent, rather it has already started. The tyrants can kill people, but can’t kill an ideology.
So far, the Islamists’ resistance has been peaceful and non-violent. But the army does not want such non-violent protest to survive in the Egyptian cities. They are labelling such protests as Egypt’s security threat. They want to remove such threats by using indiscriminate firearms and thus killing thousands –as they did in Cairo’s Rabaa al Adabiya, An Nahda, and Ramsees squares. This way, they want to bring an end to the non-violent street protests. The Islamists are now realising that Gandhian non-violence is not going to work against helicopter gunships and tanks of the bloodthirsty generals. Many of them must be thinking about Islam’s own and only option –that is Jihad. So far, Muslim Brotherhood has worked as a huge firewall against such jihadi options. But now such a firewall is being dismantled by the Army’s tanks, artillery fires and helicopter gunships. 1st edition 18/08/2013; 2nd edition 28/07/2021.