Egyptian blogger from Cairo.
Revolutionary Socialist.
Partner & Creative Director at ThePlanet.

The lamest arguments in favor of the brutally corrupt Egyptian army

Under: Egypt Tags: . .

One hand? When did this happen? I might’ve missed the memo.

We Egyptians can get rather emotional with topics we feel strongly about. Who can deny that it is qualities such as sheer passion that can lead to revolutions happening? It is impossible to push for any change if hope and optimism do not make up the driving force in your struggle. It is easy to give up the walk if you lack vision of the bright and shiny light at the end of the tunnel.

The negative aspect of such positivity is eventual naivety. Many Egyptians believe in a mythical yet mutually beneficial relationship between us, the people, and the Egyptian military. One that is lead by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and followed by the people who can trust them blindly. The repeated encounter with innocent arguments made in favor of our fatherly military is frustrating, to say the least. The following are the five lamest arguments that I’ve had to put up with, and why I think they’re completely unfounded.

You know the rules: this is my opinion (which I’m entitled to), and I never claimed to be an expert on the subject matter.

  1. The army protected our revolution

    Even if I were to listen to such an argument, why don’t we see how the families of the martyrs of the camel attacks feel about this? Or those who were killed on the Friday of Anger when military vehicles were providing the interior forces with ammunition?

    Throughout the Tahrir days, I witnessed dozens of dead bodies being pulled out of the crowds because our beloved army was kind enough to let thousands of armed thugs attack us at Tahrir square from all angles. In fact, not only did the army disappear when the lives of hundreds (if not thousands) were at risk, they somehow developed the cold-heartedness to have two officers on top of one of the residential buildings facing the museum shoot photographs while both sides were fighting to the death.

    A sequel to this point tends to argue that we should be thankful to the army for not shooting at us. Have are standards become so low, that we appreciate the fact that our own army did not opt to open fire against us and forcing us to become like Libya? Is avoiding a genocide an attractive quality of a government body nowadays? It’s not clear if that is due to innocence, ignorance, or just being sad, but judging from the sense of pride of many towards the army’s protection of our revolution, I’d say it’s all three.

  2. The army is not accustomed to dealing with civilians. The personnel are trained for combat in the desert

    How many training courses on ‘civilian interaction’ do you need to not use the museum as a torture camp? What human skills are required to stop you from throwing your own citizens behind bars on no legal basis? There is absolutely no excuse to detaining those who speak their mind. And I never though I needed to say this, but there is no justification to torture.

    While it might be true that, in theory, the army officers and soldiers are trained to hold guard at the borders and be prepared for combat, it is really not that difficult to avoid humiliating, imprisoning and torturing the people they’re supposedly here to protect.

  3. Even if we were to get rid of Tantawi and the rest at the SCAF, how could we replace them?

    The last time I was being hammered this ‘argument’, we were building up to the downfall of Mubarak. Just like it was overwhelmingly ignorant as well as offensive to all potential replacements then, it is the same to think so towards the army now. And if overthrowing a totalitarian dictator of 30 years was not impossible, and didn’t cause complete anarchy and mayhem, why would replacing the SCAF do so?

    Let’s not forget that we’ve started a historical revolution. We should not settle for anything less than what we deserve. The mindset of taking the current corrupt regime for granted is backwards at a time when we’re progressively looking towards the future.

  4. We cannot overthrow the army, the uprising has to be from within

    For some odd reason, many believe that even though we’re going through a revolution and claiming some of our basic rights, with regards to the army, there are rules to follow. We were never given permission to take the streets and put up a fight against hundreds of thousands of police forces and thugs, but we did it. It was the right thing to do. However there’s this mysterious notion that to change the military, we have to sit back and wait for a handful of courageous soldiers to overtake the system, and then hope they act in the most beneficial way for us. Otherwise, it’s illegal…or something.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to let the revolution fail just because there’s an apparent protocol to how change should happen in the army. If they’re not good enough to represent us, we’ll take the streets and object until our demands are met.

  5. The army ‘s job is to protect the borders in the best way it sees fit. We’re not in a position to tell them what to do

    This is the knockout argument that ends any conversation on any sort of intellectual level. How could you possibly answer to that? Game over.

    It is truly sad how the army has been able to indoctrinate us over the years to believe that they are a separate entity to the government, completely independent from the government and the people. They know what to do, and when. They understand their responsibilities and are working on them.

    Sorry to break the news to you, but that is complete falsehood. The army’s existence is purely to serve the people. This is OUR country, WE tell them what to do, and it is up to US to make the decisions. We have demands and their job is to meet them with their technical knowledge. We don’t need to be education experts, or healthcare gurus to demand from the government and the ministries to provide us with basic education and healthcare. We do not need to be military strategists and war heroes to ask the army to protect us, to oppose a war, or to join one. We choose the government that we think best represents us, and we hold them accountable if they don’t yield favorable results. The army is no exception.

One hand my ass.

This is our revolution, and if the SCAF doesn’t straighten itself up, it will have to put up with the people that tossed over its former employers, the civilization that is only at the beginning of its road, the revolutionaries that redefined victory.

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11 comments

AG

May 3, 2011

Its one of two things: its either ur surrounded by idiots, which naturally turns you into a giant moron; or its just that you couldn’t find a remotely intelligent person to hold a conversation with

وعلشان ترتاح, الشعب المصري عمره ماهاطلع ضد الجيش, ولو طلع ضد الجيش الجيش هايضرب في المليان, وياريت تكون أنت في الطليعة علشان تبقي شهيد

بس ساعتها هاتبقي شهيد بجد مش من بتوع هات الجثة واقبض الخمسين ألف

Tarek Nasr

May 4, 2011

AG; It seems to be you are a bit pessimistic with regards to what Egyptians can do; I’m sure during the revolution when Egyptians were accomplishing what was thought impossible you were eating popcorn, watching movies on MBC2 & hoping for life to “return to normal” so you can go to Cilantro with your friends and have a cheesecake.

You may agree or disagree with the post but the manner in which you have commented is uncalled for and making light of the brave people who passed away in tahrir while you were sucking on a lollipop in the comfort of your own home is disgusting however you didn’t even have the guts to write your name and wrote “AG” which pretty much sums it all up.

Tarek Shalaby

May 4, 2011

AG: The day will come when you regret ever having spoken in that manner regarding the martyrs that sacrificed their lives so that you and your children could have a better future. When that day comes, I could forgive you, but I cannot guarantee that their families will.

Nour El Dean Refaat

May 6, 2011

A couple of years ago I met a professor that taught Russian history and he was telling me about Russia’s state in the 19th century and he proposed that no country, at any point in history, had been through such terrible circumstances. Apart from Moscow and St Petersburg, the country was ugly, dirty and had nothing to offer but poverty and melancholy. 2% of the population composed the Russian aristocracy whom controlled absolutely everything. They worshiped the French culture to the extent that they wanted to somehow transform Russia into a new France. A ridiculous example of how they were doing so would be that parents actually hired someone solely to punish the children if they were caught speaking Russian rather than French.

I am not saying that we had reached that extent of insanity but I think we were on our way to. I personally cannot understand why two Egyptians that have lived in Cairo all of their lives would, naturally, talk to each other in English. And it isn’t just about language and culture; no. I may have used the wrong example because the point I wanted to make was that I would love to meet this professor again and argue that Egypt in the past 30 years went through worse conditions than Russia in the 19th century. A great percentage of the Egyptian population’s psyche has been severely blemished because of the abuse of authority of the former corrupt regime.

AG is a text book case study. He/she gave no argument whatsoever but instead resorted to insulting – the most primitive way to deal with anything. The saddest thing is that AG’s English seems fluent which means that he/she is from the upper socioeconomic class and was lucky enough to receive a decent education. Makes you wonder about the unfortunate 40% that live below poverty line and how they might perceive issues that are taking place in our currently wounded country. What really hurts me is that we cannot put on trial those who are responsible for such an atrocious crime simply because it is impalpable.

AG, you shouldn’t worry about anyone’s forgiveness, on the contrary, I believe that you deserve an apology from those who contributed in killing our country because you have clearly been negatively affected. It is quite unlikely that you will get it from them so I am apologizing to you on their behalf. I hope my optimism about Egypt’s future is in place because if it is, I believe, we will be able to retrospectively undo all the harm they have induced, within the not so far future, to start from a clean slate. Then actually start progressing to reach what we all want for our beloved Egypt – for it to arise to its stature as a global power.

Tarek K

May 7, 2011

التدوين باللغة الإنجليزية يكسب المدون ميزة عدم التعرض للقانون 133 لعام 1956الذي يذهب بالبشر للسجن في حالة إنتقاد المؤسسة العسكرية أو حتى التحدث عن عتادها(لاحظ نقطة العتاد في القرن العشرين) , ولكن لا يفهمه الناس حينما يكتب بــ الإنجليزية.أعجيتني تدوينتك

لكنني أختلف معك في ذلك الجزء من تدوينتك:

“The army is not accustomed to dealing with civilians. The personnel are trained for combat in the desert”
“it is really not that difficult to avoid humiliating, imprisoning and torturing the people they’re supposedly here to protect”

هذا صحيح ولكن العسكرييون(بوجه إنساني عام وينطبق نفس الكلام على أي دولة) على المستوى السياسي لا يمكنهم التعامل إلا بسياسة القمع والتعذيب سواء كانوا معدين للتعامل مع المدنيين أم لا فهم في النهاية لا يحترمون حقوق الإنسان وهذا طبيعي لو منحنا أحد المجندين دورة في إحترام حقوق الإنسان سيتسبب هذا في تركه لعمله مطلقا كيف عذب المجندين الأمريكيون في أبو غريب العراقيين وكيف أقتحم العسكريون مبنى الجامعة التقنية في اليونان أثناء حكم المجلس العسكري لليونان عام 1973 وكيف قتل العسكريون الطلبة في المكسيك أثناء تظاهرهم فيما عرف بمذبحة تلاتيلولكو عام 1968 , لدينا أمثلة لحكومات عسكرية وإرهابية في أمريكا اللاتينية كـ العسكريون الذين حكموا في الأرجنتين وأيضا لدينا مثال حديث وحي حتى الآن وهي دولة بورما والمؤسسة العسكرية المصرية ليست إستثناءاً ولا تطلب منها أن تكون إستثناء وهذا ليس دفاعا مني عنها لكنه الواقع هم لا يعتقدون إنهم يخالفون البند الدستوري(مادة 180) الخاص بأن الجيش ملك للشعب هم يعتقدون أنهم يحمون الشعب من عدو في الداخل سيظل العسكريون في كل مكان يفكرون بنفس العقلية عقلية العدو المحتمل , العقلية العسكرية في حالة بحث دائم عن عدو لتحاربه في الداخل والخارج , ولذلك أقول له ليس صحيحا أنه من السهل تجنب الإهانة والتعذيب والإعتقال التعسفي هذا ليل العسكريون المظلم وأتمنى أن يزول بعد أربعة شهور.

أما عن الجزء الآخر من التدوينة الذي أختلف أيضا فيه معك:

“We cannot overthrow the army, the uprising has to be from within”

أنت ترى أن هذا ليس صحيحا لأننا واجهنا من قبل قوات الشرطة والبلاطجة , ولكن أنا لا أقول إننا لا نستطيع مواجهة المؤسسة العسكرية بل هناك أمثلة كثيرة عما يحدث إذا تجرأ العسكريون وواجهوا الناس فـ أن النتيجة لصالح الشعب دوما هناك مثال إيران أثناء ثورة 1979 ووقتها توقف المجندين عن مهاجمة الشعب الإيراني حينما تأثروا بخطابات الخميني , هناك أيضا مثال اليونان حيث نجح اليونانيون في الإطاحة بـ المجلس العسكري الحاكم المعروف “خونتا” عام 1974 , لكنني أقول للكاتب لا داعي للتصعيد مع المؤسسة العسكرية من الأساس رغم كل الإنتهاكات التي حدثت لحقوق المواطنين إلا أن هذا لا يتطلب التعذيب والقوى السياسية و الشعب لا يرغبان بذلك يجب أن ننتظر أن تثبت المؤسسة العسكرية حسن نواياها حينما يحدث تحول ديموقراطي حقيقي في مصر كما وعدوا دائما وسبق وقالوا أن الأمر سيستغرق 6 أشهر ونحن ننتظر إذا لم يحترموا أنفسهم أولا ويحترموا وعدهم للشعب وقتها يمكنني أن أوافقك الرأي بخصوص هذا الإندفاع الغير المبرر نحو الشارع الذي لم يهدأ بعد.

AG

May 7, 2011

Sometimes I get carried away, I write stuff that are immensely offensive for no specific reason; maybe I m just compensating for having to be nice all the in real life so I practice being an asshole on the internet. Anyways.

*Why choose the lamest arguments and refute them?! If they are so lame, and they are indeed, why bother. Or are you implying someway or another that those who disagree with your views on the army are Idiots?

This is rather cheap approach, if you want my advice, next time try to refute something of substance. Yea, and believe me, the idiots repeating the arguments you mentioned will not respond to your logic, no matter how sound it is.

**وبالنسية لموضوع الشهدا واهالي الشهدا وحق الشهدا والكلام العاطفي ده, أهالي الشهدا والشهدا لايمثلو شيئ بالنسبالي بتاتا و هاقولك ليه

1- we don’t know where this revolution is taking us. Balash, I don’t know how this revolution will improve my life, my personal selfish life, therefore, I will not be grateful to the martyrs for doing something that I don’t know whether it was good or bad for me. Yes I am selfish, most people are, I don’t have a problem admitting that.

2- The martyrs might have had good intentions; they might have died for what they believed in, good. So what? It is a choice they made; some of them might have been really brave, others might have been criminals, others might have been just unlucky—I don’t see why they would command my respect.

3- Families of the martyrs do not have any extra rights, their feelings, views are completely irrelevant to the way this country should be run. It shouldn’t be brough up aslan, especially from someone who claims to give an emotion-free arguments.
I don’t have to explain this, but 1000 families’ welfare and feelings should not direct a country of 80 millions, walla eh?

———
***I don’t know why I bother writing such long comments, bas your blog’s design is really nice, 7aga tefta7 el nefs keda.
———

****I think that corruption should indeed be eradicated from this country, however, I completely disagree with current approach, dealing with figures and individuals. The Army is the thread holding this country together. Had our army been weak or irrelevant, Egypt would gone into mayhem after Mubarak left; aslan, he would have found anyone strong enough to hand over the country to if it wasn’t for the Army.

Tayeb, what’s next. We have to admit that ridding Egypt of corruption should start the citizen level. We are a corrupt population; seebak men el she3arat wel kalam el 7elw, corruption is well instituted in our psyche, starting from cheating in primary school exam to the minister of interior.

مفهوم تطهير البلد من القمة للقاع ليس له معني الأن لأنك قد تطهر 100 فرد من الجيش ولكن ماذا ستفعل مع 80 مليون! المشكلة عمرها ماكانت انتخابات نزيهة ونظافة يد حكومة, ده كلام استهلاكي. العبرة بالشعب, شوف كدة البلاد المحترمة شعبها عامل ازاي هاتعرف احنا قدامنا قد ايه

*****And a final note, I hate cilantro, I prefer ahwet el sade2 :P

Hayk

May 7, 2011

Hi Tarek,

Thanks for an interesting post. Indeed most of the myths or arguments, as you called them, are circulated and widely advanced as justification as to why the Egyptian Army is the way it is.

Anyone who gets all warm and patriotic regarding loyalties, ethical conduct and role of the Egyptian Army in the revolution is very quickly told by me of the first days of the revolution. Back then, the Egyptian Army was in the best of cases, as Tarek points out, looking the other way while people were killing each other. Teh later “adjustment” and “rapprochement” of the Army to the people is a no-brainer for anyone to undestand, especially considering that it started when the tide turned.

We, Egytians, humans, are very quick in remembering our past, history, even it is a history of few months ago.

I do however advice all those interested about revolutions, to read writings of Leon Trotsky, the second-in-command of Bolshevik revolution, the founder of Red Army, and generally speaking one of the smartest and most perseverant revolutionaries that ever lived.

His titles are numerous but I recommend checking “My Life,” “Art and Revolution” and especially “History of Soviet Revolution.”

One can learn much from reading him.

Rowan

May 7, 2011

AG: Wow. I am shocked at this last comment.

First things first: No one gives a shit about you or your selfish life. These Martyrs died because they were protesting. They were protesting not for their own selfish existence but for the collective rights of all of us as citizens. Even if the revolution “fails” and you don’t get its “benefits”, it does not take away from the fact that they died for a noble cause. And while you can sit here on your computer and question their intentions, they can’t do that, why? Oh yeah, because they died.

So whether you like it or not, their memory and their families feelings will and should be taken into consideration. Not simply because they are dead, but because of the cause they died for. If we don’t continue what they started along with the millions of others who went out to protest and luckily got to keep their lives, then we’re not being true to what we risked all our lives for, and what unfortunately some had to give it to achieve.

Maybe you would have felt different if it was your brother, your sister, your mother, your father or your best friend that was one of those people. Since you don’t seem to have the emotional capacity to simply feel for another human being.

Great post Shalaby! I totally agree with what you are saying, but a lot of awareness and a complete change of attitude is needed for us to mobilize millions for this cause.

Bjorn Solstad

May 7, 2011

I tatally agree with your post. I asked the same questions you did during the 18 days. Being an expat from a very different culture in Norway, I could not and still cant figure out the Egyptian attitude towards your army. It does not make sense at all.

Adham A. Fatah

May 24, 2011

I have one word for you AG: Douche

Adsabry

June 6, 2011

I agree with 100 %, these argument are totally true, but most people don’t see it yet but they won’t remain blind for ever it just matter of time
Really great post

AG:no comment I won’t wast my time arguing with u.

Nour ur totally right we were heading in that direction

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