The Egyptian army may turn out to be the nation’s best hope

The Egyptian army is running the country

To listen to the Muslim Brotherhood, it would seem that the ouster of President Morsi and the subsequent mass slaughter of Ikhwan supporters is the US empire striking back following the revolution which liberated Egypt from Zionist-American hegemony, writes lawyer Osama Daneshyar who recently spent two years in Cairo.

According to this thesis, the Egyptian army is now the US tool which is going to re-establish the old order where once again Egypt will be a western slave dedicated only to the security of Israel.

Such analysis would be rational only if the facts over the last 18 months of Islamist rule in Egypt didn’t show that the Brotherhood posed no strategic threat to Israel whatsoever.

The fact is that none of us know what is really going on behind the closed doors in Cairo and the region where the decision-makers make their calls, but it is possible to do some educated guess-work. So please indulge me.

Egyptian army

There is an unfounded presumption that the army is simply a group of mercenaries which follows the orders of Washington or Tel Aviv. But that narrative misses the point that deep in the mentality of the Egyptian army is a fiercely nationalist entity jealous of national security, and no amount of US aid will make it follow orders if it didn’t think it was in Egypt’s national interest.

In fact, if one compares the amount of aid the US gives the Egyptian army it is simply tokenism compared to its real economic power and the amount of money the military can generate from various economic projects it undertakes in the country. The army isn’t in need of US or indeed Saudi money, but it will at the same time never look a gift horse in the mouth.

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    Military coup

    We can debate as much as we like about whether or not the army launched a coup against a legitimate president or not, but the fact is that the army stepped in and the president is out, and it is time to move on.

    What happened this time is only as much of a coup as what took place in January 2011. So if the start of army intervention in 2011 was seen as a “revolution” then this one is just a continuation. The only difference here is that it is very possible that the US staged the events in 2011 but this time they didn’t as they had thrown their lot in with the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Secondly, the coup advocates simply choose to ignore the fact that there were 10 times more people who wanted Morsi out than the numbers who wanted Mubarak out. I am in no way suggesting the intervention of the army was legitimate or the mass slaughter excusable. As I was against the army intervening in 2011 I am against intervention here, but the Muslim Brotherhood participated in setting the precedent two years back, and what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    Mohamed Morsi

    The other thing that is certain is that Morsi was no legitimate president. For Islamists democracy and elections are haram and contrary to Islam, so I find it incredible that these holy warriors (rather than doing jihad against Israel) wage a jihad against their army and spill their blood for democracy.

    Secondly, Morsi never obtained the mandated 15,000 signatures required by election law to stand as a presidential candidate in the first place. Instead he got nominated by a parliament which it self was unconstitutional and invalid. So legally his candidacy was invalid in the first place and his presidency illegitimate.

    Former president Mohamed Morsi
    Former president Mohamed Morsi

    Thirdly, the Muslim Brotherhood weren’t the great revolutionaries or visionaries that were going to re-establish a glorious Khilafa stretching from Indonesia to Morocco (if there ever was such a Khalifate in the first place, as people like to ignore that throughout history there were competing Islamic States – including the Abbasids, Fatimids, Auybids, Persian, Ottoman and Moghal).

    Nor were they subscribers to liberation ideology. Far from it, they were the last to join the revolutionary bandwagon after most of the blood had been spilled, having ridden on the revolution’s coat-tails. They then cut a deal with the US imperial viceroys, behind the backs of the very people who made the sacrifices to overthrow Mubarak.

    The interesting fact is that out of the 800 or so who were killed by Mubarak’s regime very few (if any) of those killed were from the Muslim Brotherhood. Most protestors were from the people who rose up again on 30th June, to topple the Muslim Brotherhood.

    As for the Salafists, they were even more opportunistic. They initially forbade their supporters (no doubt under Saudi instructions) form rising up against Mubarak at all, pointing to hadiths claiming that the Prophet ordered Muslims to obey their rulers.

    Then having failed to prevent the toppling of Mubarak they decided to erode the whole process from within for the benefit of their sponsors and by extension their imperial masters. It is no accident that they were the first to ally themselves with the Muslim Brotherhood, and have been responsible for most of the extreme divisive sectarian narrative, and in the end were the first to sell them out going to Washington to prostitute themselves as being plausible alternatives to the Brotherhood.

    Saudi Arabia

    For Saudi Arabia continued instability in Egypt is vital so that it never re-gains its place as the leader of the Arab and Sunni world, and consequently relegate the House of Saud to a tribe with a few oil wells.

    Saudi Arabia is more than happy to see Egyptians killing one another; from that perspective their policy is identical with Israeli and US policy. Keep Arabs divided, weak and with armies which are either non-existent or worn out by internal conflicts rather than protecting their states from an expansionist Zionist entity, as has happened in Syria and is being prepared for Egypt.

    Bizarrely the Saudis are backing the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies in Syria to establish a state even more fascist and extreme than anything the Muslim Brotherhood established in Egypt. And they are using their extreme preachers of hate as trojan horses before moving in for the kill.

    Saudi King Abdullah with Obama
    Saudi King Abdullah with Obama

    It is certainly suspicious that they send their most famous celebrity imam Muhammad al Arifi (who with other Salafi celebrities incited Morsi to precipitate his own ouster by declaring a jihad against Shias and Syria), yet now seem to be only too pleased to see Morsi facing a possible death sentence for it.

    Just as the Saudis laid a trap for Morsi, they are maybe laying a trap for the Egyptian army. If the Syrian army’s killing of opposition demonstrators (whilst returning fire at unidentified gunmen that infiltrated those protests in the early stages of the movement) caused Syria to spiral into a bloody civil war, the killing of over a thousand by the Egyptian army in similar circumstances could result in the same catastrophic scenario being played out in Egypt.

    As in Syria the Brotherhood is claiming that the army is killing unarmed peaceful protestors, but as in Syria there are definitely people firing at the army from within the crowds, and killing them. If they are not part of the protestors who are they and who has hired them?

    In Syria we know Bandar Bin Sultan had paid Salafist mercenaries (often non-Syrians) to fire at the Syrian army from within the demonstrators and continues to direct those same terrorists. Therefore, is the same thing being orchestrated in Egypt? It can’t be ruled out. The only thing that is certain is that Saudi Arabia is trying to create a “ring of fire” to shield Israel from any danger by funding and arming death squads in their continued rampage through the front line states to Israel.

    Islamists

    If history is anything to go by, Islamists have a habit of causing unified, powerful states to simply regress further.

    Having been elected by an Egyptian population who were desperate for a new direction, the Islamists chose to maintain the same economic, foreign and domestic policies that their predecessors had adopted.

    In fact, for all the Islamic rhetoric not a single Islamist agenda (including the Iranian model) has ever been able to shake off the neo-liberal free market model from their political agenda. I always argued that if you are truly seeking to establish an Islamic Republic the government couldn’t encourage people to gamble money on the stock exchange, and have banks that run on interest.

    Nor did their rhetoric about one nation live up to the reality. If anything the Islamists have taken the notion of unity further back than Nasser who was regarded as a heretic. At least in his day there was a united Arab Republic, now after 40 years of Islamism the various groups can’t tolerate buying goods and services from one another’s shop, let alone establish something as simple and mutually beneficial as an economic union.

    Furthermore, Yemen is now not two nations but several tribal regions; Libya is a catastrophe; Sudan is divided; so is Iraq; and Syria has been destroyed. So much for an all-powerful, all-conquering Khilafa!

    Secularists

    Nor are the so-called secular governments or armies completely in the pocket of the neo-liberal free marketers. I for one refuse to accept the narrative that the Egyptian army consists of blood-thirsty evil western stooges, nor do I believe the narrative that all Muslim Brotherhood members are terrorists. That narrative is what the West wants to push on the region, in the hope that extreme polarisation causes another Arab and Muslim state to disintegrate.

    There are good well-meaning people in both camps who have deep love for their country and its citizens, who have been driven apart by the lack of ability to see one another’s viewpoint, and no doubt encouraged not to enter dialogue by external actors. That type of extreme entrenchment is not to the benefit of anyone, not Egypt, nor it’s army, nor its people.

    It is not shocking that an army cracks down hard on its citizens or kills hundreds of unarmed protestors. It is shocking however to see good-hearted, people of deep faith on both sides accept it and see the person dying (whether a soldier, a civilian or a protestor) as not even human. The Islamists don’t have a monopoly on takfirism, the Nasserites, army, and other revolutionaries opposed to the Brotherhood also appear to have adopted the takfiri narrative of the Brotherhood and its Salafi allies.

    In conclusion, this may not be a case of the empire striking back as the empire is no position to strike back at all. However, I believe that the real nationalist Jedi Knights of Egypt will return, hand in hand with faithful members of this great military institution.

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