there is certainly a need to examine the concepts that got the US
administration to handle the post – Mubarak Egypt the way it did, I believe the
urgent issue now is to help navigate this country to stability through a
peaceful transitional process. The US is in fact trying intensively at this
moment to do just that.

what are the chances for a wave of terrorist activities hitting Egypt in the
next few years and affecting its journey to stability?

may appear in the surface that the military coup – or sort of – is responsible
for any terrorist actions that may take place. But such proposition is superficial.
The armed groups that carried Morsi’s picture and appeared hours after his
departure were already there before he was forced out of the presidential
place. The Muslem Brotherhood (MB) had its own militia all along. This militia
manifested its force last December when it used lethal force to end a protest
of the opposition in front of Alittahadia palace where the president of Egypt
is seated. Lines of MBs moving in an organized way stormed the square facing
the palace and left several protesters dead and ended the protest then they

and police posts in Sinai were attacked on regular bases during Morsi’s reign
and many soldiers were killed or kidnaped. Many die-hard prominent terrorist
figures were pardoned by the president and released from prison after they gave
“their word” that they will not resort to terrorism. They left to their home
towns in Upper Egypt which later witnessed some remarkable armed violence when
Morsi was toppled.

 But the dynamics of what happened since
Mubarak was overthrown should be re-examined on light of what happened in the
first week of this July.The equation the MBs drew for Egypt seemed for a moment
to be a win-win deal. The silent understanding between the Mbs and its Islamic
allies was that Egypt will be “Islamized” democratically. If not some other
means could be used.

is not an end in itself for these groups. The rule of Shari’a is. The MBs were
given a chance to reach that end. If it fails, arms will talk. ( (in fact,
terrorism is not the first tactic of the group, it is just the second).

what happened in the post Mubarak Egypt was, however, a positive step in a way.
To include the MBs into the political process could have been a positive
development. But what followed was a series of terrible errors. It was crucial
to guarantee that the MBs once allowed into the political theater, will not
have a free hand in “Islamizing” Egypt. There was a need to “force” them to
play politics through a balanced constitution and relentless follow up with the
MBs leadership in every step they take. Time was needed until the political
game in Egypt deepens its roots and creates its set of mind, intrinsic forces
and logic and really becomes a way of life. By giving the MBs a near “carte
blanche”, and by believing their double explanation for every step they take
and mismanaging the first military transition (including the catastrophic
constitution), it was obvious that the country would certainly slide to a big
crisis. That was even more obvious with the MBs clash with the judiciary, the
opposition, the military and everybody else. Furthermore, this “carte blanche”
shortened the life of the MBs in the political process. A longer stay would
have been inevitably reflected within the organization in different levels.

what followed the overthrow of Mubarak witnessed two parallel factors playing
out when it comes to the MBS. One was its historical roots in terrorism which
was used when needed. The second was its new role as a political force. It was
necessary to prolong this role so far as it does not move them as fast as they
wished to create what Hassan Albana specified as the ultimate goal of the

careful “risk” necessitated to slow as much as possible the MBs march towards
this goal. It was as important to the MBs themselves as it was to Egypt, the
Middle East and the World. Instead, they were almost given a free ride. The
stubbornness of Morsi in his last days was a direct result of the arrogance of
power and the inner calculation of the organization as a whole. If you are not
used to be restrained and have limits, it is hard to teach you in few days.

these mistakes should be corrected. Every possible way should be tried to
convince the MBs to remain in the political process the way it is set right
noe, i.e. without carte blanch. To achieve that they should be convinced with
what is obvious to everybody else, that what happened was in fact a result of
their own mistakes not of the inutility of the political process. The objective
should be to put them in the mood of “self-criticism” and to build a process
that is solid enough (based on a constitution that is balanced) to prevent
their rush to grap every aspect of the countries life if they govern again.

even that will provide no guarantee that Egypt will not suffer a wave of
terrorism. If that happens, it will be important to list the population to
confront the terrorists and that depends on educating the population to isolate
the fanatics even more, so they feel that violence is a net loss. The current
starting point has promising element: the fanatics have been tremendously
isolated and lost a considerable part of their base. They are trying now to
impose a distracting “point final”, that is to keep talking about the “coup”
against a legitimately elected president, not the huge public protest against
this president. This will not fly with the population unless the economic
hardship continues. It is crucial that the population feels “the difference”
after Morsi’s departure.

Egypt will definitely suffer of terrorist attacks in the next couple of years.
The point here is to minimize that and isolate it by the Egyptian population
before anybody else. I saw the wave of violence in the 90’s and I know that
there was a portion of the population sympathizing with the terrorists,
particularly in Upper Egypt.

I do not accept the naïve assumptions that the MBs condemned terrorism as a
matter of principle (and I may write to prove that beyond any reasonable doubt
in another occasion), as I believe the Egyptian authorities unwillingly helped
the expansion of Jama’a Islamiyeh and Jihad in the 90s with their crude tactics
and with adopting only security measures in that confrontation.

is still time to prepare the Egyptian security forces, the media and  the relevant ministers to refine their ways
and get ready to contain any threat.  One
important factor is that the security forces should learn how to respect the
role of law during its campaign and  that
security measures do not lead to structural changes in a political balance. For
those who may rush to condemn the military because of the “coup” I will just
say that the military intervention stopped Egypt from sliding to a certain
civil war. The alternative to civil war might be some terrorist acts. You
choose what you prefer.


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  1. Margaret Steinfels says:

    Thanks for these very informative essays.
    Question: What would those opposed to the MB and other Islamist groups consider a reasonable compromise with their efforts to shape a more Islamic state and culture? Or does the opposition imagine a wholly secularized state, as in France.
    For example, in the “West,” Christian ideas of family, marriage, and other moral matters dominated our law and our culture until recently. In the past, Protestants and Catholics in the U.S. had somewhat different views of such issues but each has pretty much conceded the ground to more secular views.

  2. Yusuf says:

    Egyptian are already very Muslem. Islam is an essential part of our lives. MBs or no MBs, mosques are full evrey Friday noon and people in general observe their religion and “think” its ways. That went on for 1400 years. The MBs were formed 80 years ago and political Islam were not there before.What I want to say is that Islam is very much alive in the peoples day to day life. The problem started with the introduction of a “new” version That Colonel Lang described correctly as medieval. Salaf means ancestors.MBs are a branch of the Salafi movement. Their assumption is that if we return to the days of the first Muslems who built an empire out of nothing, we will be comparetively as strong. I simply do not agree.

  3. Duncan Kinder says:

    Mike Davis, in Planet of Slums, explores how Third World mega cities are now looming – surrounded by immense slums.
    “Urban theorist Davis takes a global approach to documenting the astonishing depth of squalid poverty that dominates the lives of the planet’s increasingly urban population, detailing poor urban communities from Cape Town and Caracas to Casablanca and Khartoum. Davis argues health, justice and social issues associated with gargantuan slums (the largest, in Mexico City, has an estimated population of 4 million) get overlooked in world politics: “The demonizing rhetorics of the various international ‘wars’ on terrorism, drugs, and crime are so much semantic apartheid: they construct epistemological walls around gecekondus, favelas, and chawls that disable any honest debate about the daily violence of economic exclusion.” Though Davis focuses on individual communities, he presents statistics showing the skyrocketing population and number of “megaslums” (informally, “stinking mountains of shit” or, formally, “when shanty-towns and squatter communities merge in continuous belts of informal housing and poverty, usually on the urban periphery”) since the 1960s. Layered over the hard numbers are a fascinating grid of specific area studies and sub-topics ranging from how the Olympics has spurred the forceful relocation of thousands (and, sometimes, hundreds of thousands) of the urban poor, to the conversion of formerly second world countries to third world status. Davis paints a bleak picture of the upward trend in urbanization and maintains a stark outlook for slum-dwellers’ futures.”
    This situation is unprecedented in human history; nobody understands it.
    Cairo, however, is one such slum-surrounded mega city.
    There are, howevere, slum-related aspects to the current Middle East situation. E.g., Sadr City, Gaza, Hezbollah.
    Which suggests that interpreting Middle Eastern “terrorism” as an aspect of this broader slum development may be useful.
    And which further suggests that Cairo, the sleeping giant, is now being stirred. With potentially serious implications which nobody could understand or control

  4. robt willmann says:

    How about this man, Hamdeen Sabahy? An actual nationalist? He was arrested for opposing Egypt’s support of the 2003 Iraq invasion, Wikipedia says. He ran for president when Mursi did and came in third. He seems to want Egypt independent of U.S. and Zionist influence. No wonder his name has not been mentioned in U.S. mass media.

  5. walrus says:

    What are the chances that the Army could wipe out the MB?

  6. turcopolier says:

    You mean send them home early? pl

  7. seydlitz89 says:

    Thank you for a very informative series of posts regarding these times. There are certain similarities . . .
    And thank you Colonel Lang.

  8. Augustin L says:

    This is in part what led to Morsi’s removal. The army refused to be used as a dagger to attack Syria and do the bidding of …

  9. Walrus says:

    consign,, with or without waiting virgins.

  10. Lord Curzon says:

    Sir, Walrus
    I imagine if the Army went down that route, they’d end up with a situation similar to Algeria with the FIS, which in the ensuing civil war cost thousands of lives. Hence Yusuf’s desire to keep the MB in the political process. “Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer”, is apt!

  11. Matthew says:

    Sullivan makes the case for cutting aid to Egypt and Israel. See
    If the Zionist Miracle values the Peace Treaty with Egypt so much, why don’t they pay for it?

  12. Jane says:

    I would assume limited. It would be like trying to eradicate the IRA. Every time an activist was killed members of his family would step up to take his place and sympathizers would be moved closer to violence.
    Long term incarcerations after manifestly fair trials would be a better option. Much more tedious but more convincing to the society in the long run.

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