There's no honour among coup leaders, General Sisi

#EgyptTurmoil

Egypt's president has alluded to the threat he faces from allies who now see him as a disaster for the country and want him out

Basheer Nafi's picture
Wednesday 7 September 2016 11:09 UTC
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In a rare moment of truth, the General spoke, invoking the wisdom of generations of coup generals who passed away before him. He said: “The honour of the fighter is that he does not conspire against his president or plot to topple him.”

Indeed, the honour of the fighter is not that he defends the soil of his country, irrespective of the size of sacrifices made; nor is to safeguard the sovereignty of his state and the safety of his people; nor is it to respect the constitution and the law.

The honour of the fighter is entirely something other than that. His honour is that he does not conspire against his president and that he does not take part in a coup against him.

An unspoken threat

What sort of setback is it that the General is immersed in; what sort of defeat is it that revealed such a unique wisdom to him; what sort of loss is that that led him to stand naked before his people and before the world, with nothing to cover his pudenda? 

The General is not known for his scientific excellence, nor is he known for shrewdness or smartness or bravery, nor is there any indication that he has learned the history of his country as it should be or that he has known its importance, its role and its position.

The General has never waged war nor has he ever led his troops into battle, nor has he had a single notable achievement to his name

The General joined the army of his country at a time when the army ceased to undertake any major national mission, when the era of wars came to an end and when the state embraced its enemies. The General has never waged war nor has he ever led his troops into battle, nor has he had a single notable achievement that might hoist his lowly stature among the ranks of generals of his like. Since his time has been the time of decline in logic, in intellect and in language, the General never learned the profession of contemplating nor the vocation of thinking, nor the value of talking in a manner worthy of a general. 

The army of his country had already become a semi-industrial trading corporation, preoccupied with market deals, competing in the manufacturing of food stuffs and refrigerators, and monopolising representation of foreign industrial agencies. The General has learned how to bargain, how to broker, how to conclude deals, how to take his share of the cake, and even more than his own share, through legitimate means should he be able to or otherwise, when not able to, through illegitimate means.

The army of his country had already become a semi-industrial trading corporation

The army of his country had also become a security institution that competes with what is known in other countries as specialised security institutions, working for the ruler, securing his safety and the safety of his family and ensuring the continuation of his hegemony, even if such a mission should require repressing the people and humiliating them. And in doing so, the army would exert every possible effort in cooperating with the former enemies of the country so as to maintain peace along the borders and guarantee the continued flow of foreign aid and the prosperity of relations with the world’s superpowers.

Murder and torture

Thus the general learned how to become his army’s first policeman, how to make himself a necessity for the peace partners in the neighbourhood and the region’s security partners worldwide. When the people came out in a rare and unprecedented moment to speak their word, the General did not hesitate to perpetrate murders, order assassinations and authorise acts of torture. 

Yet life has been quite kind to the General, so kind as to deliver him to a rank much higher than he ever dreamed of, neither in his sleep nor when awake. In a moment of fatalistic luck, a moment rarely afforded to a general like him ever before, many people were inattentive to his ignorance and to the humbleness of his scientific background, to his lack of professional military accomplishment as well as to the superficiality of his thinking, to the limitation of his intellect and to his vulgar language. In that moment of fatalistic luck, the general had no recourse but to trust in the talents and traditions of the market, of commerce, of security and of conspiracy, which have become the culture of the army within which he grew up and whose ranks he climbed up one after the other.

  Destiny gave the General his chance to exhibit to the world his ability to make deals and to conspire and his capability of treason, treachery, repression, blood-shedding 

Because the country was overwhelmed by instability, by loss of direction and by uncertainty, destiny soon accorded the General his second chance, the chance of exhibiting to the world his ability to make deals and to conspire and his capability of treason, treachery, repression, blood-shedding and forcing the people back into the abode of oppression after having thought they had left it never to return to it again.

The General did not only rebel against his president but carried out a coup at the same time: a coup against the president, bringing him down, and a coup against his own partners among the prestigious elite and the lowest commoners. 

Betrayal of trust

The truth is that the General did not need all the traits of treachery, conspiracy and brokerage with which he was born and which he later improved and upgraded throughout his professional life. The president trusted him anyway. Although he noticed the General’s bad intentions and conspiratorial tendencies, he thought that the people, who ignited one of the biggest revolutions in the country’s history, were strong enough to prevent a general from leading them once more into the abyss of despotism and backwardness. However, the General found within the political, economic and media elites of his country all the assistance he needed and the best tools. 

Time had not only seen the army decline but had also seen the decline of all the country’s resources and institutions, so much so that it could no longer boast about education or culture or arts or media. In a country that inherited a civilisation which is several thousand years old, there were not many politicians who could master the rules of political action or intellectuals who enjoyed an appropriate standard of education or journalists who comprehended the responsibility of the media or businessmen who shouldered a sufficient degree of any sense of responsibility.

Very soon, all of these gathered around the General paving the way for him, elevating his position and introducing him to the mass of the people as the saviour, the guardian and the messiah. These wretched ones thought in an instant of loss of conscience that no sooner had the General brought down their Islamist foes he would immediately restore to them the reigns of governance and authority. But the General, of course, had other plans.

In his second coup, the General relied on that section of the population which fell for the trick of salvation, guardianship and messianic deliverance

In his second coup, the General relied on that section of the population which fell for the trick of salvation, guardianship and messianic deliverance. He also relied on his allies in the region, who wanted him to uproot the “evil Islamists” for having called for democracy, for saving national resources and for the independence of decision-making.

At the same time, his allies wanted him to punish the rebellious people. In his second coup, the general brought down his partners in the first coup. This was much the same as taking off one’s own worn out shoes. The General seized the reigns of power and kept them to himself alone without partners. He climbed up to the maximum level a general is ever capable of, promising the people prosperity, security, freedom and dignity.  

Yet, things did not proceed as was expected of them. Within only three years of seizing power and assuming governance, the General’s failure started appearing to his partners at home and within the region as well as to his people and the world as a whole. He was exposed for what he really was.

Billions wasted

Despite a series of what seemed like endless massacres and campaigns of repression, detention and banishment, the country has not regained its security and stability. In spite of the billions of dollars that were pumped in by regional partners in order to boost the General’s finances and bolster his governing machine, the economic and financial conditions in the country continue to deteriorate and decline. 

Although the General was keen right from the start to embroil the state’s military, security and judicial institutions in the crimes he perpetrated, so as to ensure that they stood behind him, the margin of freedom in the country has been shrinking like never before and the people’s dignity is being threatened like never before. Even the promises he made to his allies in the region, those in particular who poured money on him and opened the doors of their friends in Europe and America for him, that he would be at times of need a shield and even a weapon for them, he soon broke his promise.

Only Israel benefits

One party alone can claim that the General’s rule was a gift from all times for it: the neighbouring state that was once an enemy. Only within three years of governance and control, the General is standing naked without anything to cover his pudenda. 

The first reaction came from the British magazine The Economist, which held the General responsible for ruining the country. It called on him to save his skin toward the end of his first presidential term by not trying to stand for a second term.

Afterwards, trumpets known to be closely associated with the regional allies started attributing to the General mismanagement and the squandering of the country’s resources, conveying to him the desire of his friends the emirs and the sheikhs to leave at the first possible opportunity.

Those who betrayed the aspirations of their people now realise the huge disaster they are living through

Within the country itself, and in spite of the fact that those who betrayed the aspirations of their people now realise the huge disaster they are living through - and nothing but fear prevents them from speaking out - a small number of them have expressed hope that the General will do the country some good by leaving office. 

It is true that the General does not have a piercing mind nor is he that smart but he is not so stupid as not to see the considerable danger and depth of the loss he is likely to face with no probable means of escape. As such, and in a rare moment of truth, the General found himself, without willingness on his part, invoking the wisdom of coup generals who preceded him.  

Where is such an abysmal loss taking the General? Is there no end to this loss? Is there no hope in a metaphysical intervention that would make his treason the last of all treasons?

- Basheer Nafi is a senior research fellow at Al Jazeera Centre for Studies.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: A supporter of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi carries of portrait of him as a sign of protest against the journalists demonstrating to demand the sacking of the interior minister on May 4, 2016 (AFP)