Egypt likes its army.


"The military-backed government that took over from Mursi in July has billed the two-day referendum, which is to pave the way for presidential and parliamentary elections, as a crucial step toward stability. Mursi backers denounce it as an attempt to legitimize what they see as a military coup against Egypt’s first freely elected civilian leader and are boycotting it. Violence marred the balloting early on, with clashes killing three people, state-run Middle East News Agency reported. Health Ministry officials in Cairo couldn’t be reached for confirmation. Security forces, including more than 160,000 soldiers, were stationed around the country after violence flared in the run-up to the referendum. Authorities blamed some of the unrest on the Muslim Brotherhood that fielded Mursi for office, declaring it a terrorist group, a charge it denies. Egypt’s generals may interpret a strong backing of the charter as an endorsement of Mursi’s overthrow and the political process that followed. The man who led the ouster, Defense Minister Abdelfatah al-Seesi, hasn’t ruled out running in presidential elections due later this year."  Businessweek


 As I have said before in this space, it is comical to watch American TV anchors question reporters on the ground in Cairo concerning the sentiment of the Egyptian masses with regard to the army backed government that replaced MB rule.  The anchors are sure that the masses must be hostile to the military's rule and they question the reporters in the field with the obvious intention of eliciting reponses that will confirm the expected narrative.

They seem befuddled when the most they can tease out of reporters is an admission that there still exists a sizable minority in the population who back the Salafists including the MB in their desire to create a sharia law state in Egypt.

The truth is that most Egyptians want a continuation of the long tradition of a semi-westernized, mildly Islamic culture in Egypt.  That culture extends back in history to the Muhammad Ali dynasty and the middle of the 19th Century.  The khedival government in Egypt at that time was an extension of the Ottoman Empire.  The Ottoman government of that time followed a path called the "tanzimaat" (reorganization).  That path led in the direction of the West.  It did not reach the West but it led in that direction.  Egypt followed much the same path and a society developed in Egypt that was a hybrid of Western and Islamic values.  In that system it was possible for reasonable lives to be had by the great majority in spite of the general poverty brought on by an ever growing population.

Governments came and went.  Political systems changed over time.  Khedival Egypt was replaced by a sultanate and then monarchy that tolerated some degree of parliamentary function.  That government was followed by military rule for more than half a century.  Naguib, was followed by Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak.  Mubarak's resignation was accomplished by a wide coalition of largely urban political groups who seem to have assumed that elections would produce a civilian government satisfactory to the groups that had made the revolution a success.  That was certainly the expectation in the United States in liberal political circles as well as among the ever hopeful neocons and the R2P posse.

What had been missed (largely because of wide spread belief in the "progress" of mankind) was the continuing existence of a large rural population who thought that the culture of the cities was corrupt and deeply sinful.  The existence of this politically malleable mass inspired the MB and other salafist groups to enter the electoral process.  Once in power, Mursi and company proceeded to modify the Egyptian state to fit their conception of God's will reflected on earth. 

Women, Christians, homosexuals, the westernized secular elites, ordinary Egyptians in the cities, all these groups came to understand that if the Mursi government was allowed to continue in its drive to Islamize all  aspects of Egyptian life then Egypt would become yet another open air prison camp.  Seeing the level of discontent the army acted. 

The same Americans who have believed that nothing is more important than elections still believe that to be true.  The lead editorial of the Washington Post today reflects the pathos of that attitude. 

Most Egyptians do not accept that view of human affairs.  pl

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21 Responses to Egypt likes its army.

  1. oofda says:

    Concur absolutely. Several years ago, my wife and I sponsored Egyptian officers at an Army school. My wife has also spent time in Egypt researching a book. The Egyptians love and respect their military- and most are wary of the MB. Frustrating that journalists and diplomats, especially from the U.S., cannot discern that fact.

  2. turcopolier says:

    From this and other comments I deduce that you are a retired officer? pl

  3. PL! Thanks for this post! Any chance Egypt might be a major player in either MENA or world stage this century?
    Saudi Arabia?
    Could it be argued that only Iran and Turkey have psssed from tribal culture in MENA currently?
    BTW some have begun to argue that that the basic cultural problem in the USA is its becoming more tribal!

  4. oofda says:

    Yes, Marine infantry and judge advocate- also FAO-Russian.

  5. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, every country deserves the government it has.

  6. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Egypt is not a tribal country, has not been so for centuries.
    Her problems are of an entirely different nature – they have found their center and are comfortable within that Black Hole.

  7. Thanks Babak and understand Egypt not tribal!
    BTW Aswan dam will be silted up by end of this Century!

  8. different clue says:

    Do the North Koreans really deserve the government they have?

  9. different clue says:

    That fast? That silt contains all the fertility which used to refertilize and remineralize the Lower Nile and Delta soil with every annual flood/retreat cycle. Perhaps they can find a way to dredge and pump that silt out to a Colorado River level of thickness and send it downstream on annual managed flood cycles to restore some rebuilding of the soil and the delta.
    Especially with slow ocean rising eating away at the delta from the north.

  10. Mark Logan says:

    WRC, but I suspect they may have a more immediate problem. The Ethiopians plan to divert water from the Nile system for their own use. Heard about it before, but saw some of their TV on the Chinese network on basic cable yesterday really drilled it home. The entire half-hour news broadcast was on great their various programs for economic expansion will be, centered on the topic of water.
    To me, it was plainly a deliberate effort instill expectation and a sense of entitlement for more water. A lot more.

  11. Babak Makkinejad says:

    All dams have that problem and they are dredged from time to time.
    I think longer-term all dams have a finite lifetime and eventually have to be dismantled and replaced.
    I wonder, for example, how the Hoover dam is to be decommissioned and replaced by another dam.
    We need a specialist to comment on this topic.

  12. Chantose says:

    Off topic, but still ME & military: does anyone have insights into Moshe Ya’alon and his complaint?
    Not the personal jibe at Kerry (have at ‘im), but the policy put-down:
    Is it not? Or is Ya’alon a myopic wingnut? Or both? (or nuance?…)

  13. turcopolier says:

    IMO Yalon reflects the level of contempt in which the revisionist Zionist crowd hold the US. pl

  14. Chantose says:

    Oops, goofed up the quote- Ya’alon said:
    “The American plan for security arrangements that was shown to us isn’t worth the paper it was written on,”
    So if we can’t judge the US plan by Ya’alon’s assessment, per Col. Lang, do we have any hints if it is in fact a reasonably effective proposal?

  15. oofda says:

    But of course, they are still glad to accept US money and military gear.

  16. confusedponderer says:

    it is a one way street to them. They grab what they can, but won’t acept any conditions or limitations in return.
    Indeed, Kerry’s impertinent demands that the Israelis stop settling and make peace – outrageous, not worth the paper they’re written on.
    The US dealings with Israel are about the US paying and giving and Israel taking while returning ingratitude, and the fuzzy feeling that the US behave well when they give Israel what her rightwingers want. It’s the Israeli variant of carrot and stick.
    When Bibi goes to congress to say that Israel is the bestest ever friend of the US, and that Israel thus needs unconditonal support without questions asked in face of a perpetual state of 1939, what he does is to give Obama the finger and his supporters in congress a coddle.
    But the thing is – allies restrain themselves and take into account mutual interests and pursue mutual aims.
    Israel does neither.
    They are unwilling to restrain themselves, for they want maximum freedom of action. They don’t give a poop about US interests or aims.
    The assertion that Israel’s and America’s interests are identical is nonsense, and the people who peddle that engage in deceit.
    The Israelis have quite different goals than the US.
    For people like Netanyahoo and Yalon territorial expansion is more important than peace with the Palestinians. They reject peace because a peace deal and expansion are inherently irreconcileable as they well understand.
    They can live with the current situation well because Israel is the significantly stronger party and they don’t feel compelled to comrpomise at all, be it by the Palestinians or the US.
    That is what limits US leverage on them, that and their demonstrated ability to outflank administrations through AIPAC and their crowd in congress.
    The latest installment in the series of AIPAC sponsored “let’s bomb Iran already” bills was such a flanking maneuvre.

  17. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think that the freely elected representatives of American people have – since 1948 – determined that “US & Israeli interests are identical”.
    Almost 70 years.

  18. confusedponderer says:

    True, but it’s a delusion nevertheless.

  19. Babak Makkinejad says:

    People have a right to be wrong; they are entitled to their delusions – as you say – and we cannot alter that.

  20. elkern says:

    “Freely elected” sounds funny these days, when the ante for federal election is about $1M. But it’s tragic, when that cost is the mechanism by which AIPAC & other lobbying groups maintain their hold over our government.

  21. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Also, deluded people are not entitled to avoid the consequences. Somehow, however, many deluded people think that they have the right to have the cake (their delusions) and eat it too (avoid the consequences). Everyone is afraid to remind the deluded of this and so much effort in politics is in fact geared towards covering that up.

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