Egypt: Revolution will not be televised

This post is going to be a major link dump. Please visit all the links I post here by visiting the sites to get the fuller picture. After the first week of euphoria wherein the western press was at pains whether to describe what happened in Egypt as coup or not, information and news is finally coming out of Egypt that how it was a long planned coup executed through naive and glassy eyed young educated revolutionaries of Tamarrod who failed to see that Egypt had become a #CoupCoupLand.

I did mention some theories in my earlier post ( Egypt Coup : Engineered by military and supported by elite and West) that how the coup seems to be engineered. Whereas the previous post focused more on definition of coup and theories, this one will comprise of evidences.

Sudden Improvements in Egypt Suggest a Campaign to Undermine Morsi

Working behind the scenes, members of the old establishment, some of them close to Mr. Mubarak and the country’s top generals, also helped finance, advise and organize those determined to topple the Islamist leadership, including Naguib Sawiris, a billionaire and an outspoken foe of the Brotherhood; Tahani el-Gebali, a former judge on the Supreme Constitutional Court who is close to the ruling generals; and Shawki al-Sayed, a legal adviser to Ahmed Shafik, Mr. Mubarak’s last prime minister, who lost the presidential race to Mr. Morsi.But it is the police returning to the streets that offers the most blatant sign that the institutions once loyal to Mr. Mubarak held back while Mr. Morsi was in power. Throughout his one-year tenure, Mr. Morsi struggled to appease the police, even alienating his own supporters rather than trying to overhaul the Interior Ministry. But as crime increased and traffic clogged roads — undermining not only the quality of life, but the economy — the police refused to deploy fully.

Until now.

Mr. Sawiris, one of Egypt’s richest men and a titan of the old establishment, said Wednesday that he had supported an upstart group called “tamarrod,” Arabic for “rebellion,” that led a petition drive seeking Mr. Morsi’s ouster. He donated use of the nationwide offices and infrastructure of the political party he built, the Free Egyptians. He provided publicity through a popular television network he founded and his major interest in Egypt’s largest private newspaper. He even commissioned the production of a popular music video that played heavily on the network. “Tamarrod did not even know it was me!” he said. “I am not ashamed of it.”

Ms. Gebali, the former judge, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that she and other legal experts helped tamarrod create its strategy to appeal directly to the military to oust Mr. Morsi and pass the interim presidency to the chief of the constitutional court.

Ahmed Nabawi, a gas station manager, said he had heard several reasons for the gas crisis: technical glitches at a storage facility, a shipment of low-quality gas from abroad and unnecessary stockpiling by the public. Still, he was amazed at how quickly the crisis disappeared.“We went to sleep one night, woke up the next day, and the crisis was gone,” he said, casually sipping tea in his office with his colleagues.

Regardless of the reasons behind the crisis, he said, Mr. Morsi’s rule had not helped.

“No one wanted to cooperate with his people because they didn’t accept him,” he said. “Now that he is gone, they are working like they’re supposed to.

You might be naive in considering that NYTimes is the only one reporting it. Subsequently, Wall Street Journal also fired up its journalists and produced this:

In Egypt, the ‘Deep State’ Rises Again

In the months before the military ousted President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s top generals met regularly with opposition leaders, often at the Navy Officers’ Club nestled on the Nile.

The message: If the opposition could put enough protesters in the streets, the military would step in—and forcibly remove the president.

“It was a simple question the opposition put to the military,” said Ahmed Samih, who is close to several opposition attendees. “Will you be with us again?” The military said it would. Others familiar with the meetings described them similarly.

By June 30, millions of Egyptians took to the streets, calling for Mr. Morsi to go. Three days later, the military unseated him.

..As agitation against the Muslim Brotherhood grew, the Brotherhood formally asked the Minister of Interior for protection of their offices nationwide. Gen. Mohammed Ibrahim, Minister of Interior, publicly declined.Gen. Ibrahim faced pressure from powerful figures in the former Mubarak camp. On June 24, Ahmed Shafiq—the last prime minister appointed by Mr. Mubarak and Mr. Morsi’s closest rival for president—said in a television interview that he warned the general to not show support for the Brotherhood.

“I told him…the coming days will not be on your side if you do, and these days will be very soon,” Mr. Shafiq said on TV. “They will see black days,” he said, referring to the Brotherhood.

Days later, Mr. Shafiq’s warning materialized. Armed young men began ransacking Muslim Brotherhood offices nationwide.

However, this is only reported in few international outlets and then restricted only to newspapers. The television channels didn’t air any such report. Moreover, the local Egyptian media is so skewed towards pro-coup crowd that any thing referring to it as a coup have been blacked out by revolutionaries themselves.

These are the two screenshots of live sit in being staged yesterday in Rabea Adwaya. Neither international media nor the liberal and educated tweeps considered it worth tweeting about it. Because the channels they are plugged into are ignoring it. This is around 2am in the morning.

This was one of the two channels that was reporting it. It was total media silence on other channels. So that it may not be considered a fake photo, here is a picture from the other channel

This is how the game is being played. By shutting down pro-democracy outlets and providing no coverage to them, they want to give the impression that Morsi has lost his legitimacy to rule. Nothing could be farther from truth.

Fashioning a Coup

The massive protests of June 30 came in conjunction with a much larger scheme that began very soon after Morsi took office. This long term project by entrenched state elites seeks more than simply ejecting the Muslim Brothers from power, although that’s a highly prized outcome.

Media covered the political conflict in alarmist tones, and was a conduit for deep state messages. A major daily “leaked” a supposedly top-secret intelligence document reporting widespread discontent at worsening economic conditions “that threatens national security.” The language of “endangering national security” is a recurrent trope in all of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s speeches this year, including his 48-hour ultimatum of July 1. The October report warned that “citizens are eager for political participation, but fear single-party dominance of the political process.” Read: the Ikhwan are taking over.

Another surreal scene was the military’s use of the June 30 protests to put on a grotesque display of military prowess. Fighter jets flew above Tahrir Square, not to intimidate the massed citizens into going home as in 2011 but to package their mobilization as an assent to military rule. The planes streaked colors of the Egyptian flag in the sky and drew giant high schoolish hearts (never underestimate the mawkishness of military PR). Helicopters dropped flags on the masses, lending a martial visual uniformity to an essentially diverse populace. Posters of General El-Sisi were held aloft. Police officers in their summer whites gleefully engaged in protest, some theatrically revealing Tamarrod T-shirts beneath their uniforms.

Aerial footage (only of the anti-Morsi crowds, of course) was sent to anti-Morsi television channels, which broadcast it to the tunes of triumphal cinematic music. Naturally, the protests of those icky other people didn’t exist. A military plane was put at the disposal of a film director who’s a fixture of the anti-Morsi cultural elite, presumably to make a movie about “Egypt’s second revolution,” as State TV swiftly christened the June 30 protests. The equally massive June 25 2012 protests against military rule are conveniently dropped from this emerging canonization.

The revolutionary invention of the Tahrir Square protest as an authentic political performance was recast as state-sanctioned spectacle.

The next act of the pageant was to control the message. Officials enlisted media personalities to banish the term “coup” and hound anyone who used it. A few hours before General El-Sisi’s declaration of the coup on July 3, Egyptian media luminaries were contacting foreign media outlets to insist that they not call his imminent announcement a coup. Military spokesmen and anti-Morsi activists repeatedly and defensively asserted that “15 million protesters” and “30 million protesters” had come out on June 30, not citing the source of their numbers. A former police chief called the numbers “unprecedented in Egyptian history.” A giant message saying “It is not a coup” was reflected with green laser on the front of the Mugamma building in Tahrir on July 5.

It was quite the bizarre display of hysterical chauvinism. Government officials and establishment elites huffily insisted that the whole world acquiesce in their construction of reality. Foreign ministry officials rounded up ambassadors fromthe Americas to “explain” to them that it’s not a coup. Unnamed government officials were tasked with intensifying contact with US Congressmen in Washington for the same purpose. The Ministry of Defense in Cairo invited foreign journalists for more slideshows of the June 30 protests. And now youth activists are being sent on an official mission to London and Washington to “clarify for Western nations and the whole world that the June 30 revolution is an extension of the January 25, 2011 revolution.”

Rarely has a tenacious establishment been so keen to proclaim its own alleged overthrow. What that establishment wants, of course, is to turn the practice of the Egyptian revolution into a folkloric carnival of people filling Tahrir Square to wave flags and chant “Egypt! Egypt!”

Egyptian army clearly showing what its intentions are

Video: Egyptian army helicopter drops flags over anti-government protests

In one of the more surprising and symbolically powerful moments during Egypt’s mass protests on Sunday against President Mohamed Morsi, military helicopters circling overhead dropped Egyptian national flags on the crowds gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. A video of the moment, embedded above, shows the TV journalist reporting from Tahrir visibly surprised.

However, when it comes to pro-democracy pro-Morsi protestors, this is what they drop on them

But this is not all. The whole narrative of 22 million signatures of Tamarod and 30 million protestors filling out Tahrir Square is wrong. However, it is repeated so many times in local media by the coup supporters that it has become part of the lore.

Mathematics and Egyptians Don’t Mix: June 30 Protests Figures

After being irritated for over two years now by how Egyptians throw numbers around without meaning I have finally decided to prove that the daily numerical allegations in Egypt are usually false. What motivated me to do so is hearing the funniest figures ever, the 17 to 33 million protesters with regards to the events that unfolded on the 30th of June.

Adding up the presence at Tahrir Square and Ittihadiya we will get a total of (378,124 + 286,602) 664,726 protesters and for the purpose of extreme generosity in figures, I will round them up to 700,000 to make up even more for circulation in both areas.

Now in a simple Algebraic manner, knowing that Cairo includes over 25% of the Egyptian population, a quick extrapolation will show that Egypt as a whole wouldn’t have had more than 2.8 million protesters on the streets during the June 30 event, if not even less than these 2.8 million due to my generosity in rounding up figures like crazy.

0.25X = 700,000 protesters where X is the total number of protesters.
X = 700,000/0.25 = 2,800,000 protesters in Egypt as a whole.

My point is this annuls the claimed legitimacy of the Tamarod (Rebel) movement, takes away their right to speak on behalf of the entirety of the Egyptian population. It also raises a big question mark around the number of the signatures they claim to have obtained.

More importantly these calculations raise a claim as to how a democratically elected president was removed from office due to protests by what does not even represent 5% of the entire Egyptian population and barely represents 5% of the portion of said population that has a right to vote in Egypt.

This just tells you that how much of the narrative is manufactured or fabricated. I had a discussion with the author on twitter for a similar numbers for pro-democracy crowd:

Here are the author says that since its a Friday, a weekly holiday, it is easier to collect such large numbers. To which I say,

What is being lost here is that crowd is large, reaching the numbers reached on June 30 yet there is absolutely no mention of this anywhere like the coverage June 30 protests received or even the many times small Taksim protests received.

Egypt’s Fake Mass ‘Rebellion’?

Since Egypt’s military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi last week, the job of trying to coax the Egyptian military to restore order and democracy in ways that satisfy Washington’s standards has largely fallen to newly minted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

But Hagel has little leverage to work with, and the Journal adds that before the coup last week the Pentagon specifically urged Egypt’s generals to avoid a takeover:

But the current crisis has exposed the limits of the military relationship. The army overthrew Egypt’s first democratically elected president despite US objections, which were conveyed privately by Mr. Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, US officials said.

Hagel’s efforts won’t be made easier if Hagel’s Pentagon goes ahead and delivers fighter jets to Egypt, as seems likely:

The US is moving ahead with plans to deliver four F-16s to Egypt despite the ongoing debate about the military’s overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi and whether it legally constitutes a coup that could shut off aid to the country.

Defense officials say senior administration leaders discussed the delivery and decided to let it continue.

But the generals are flush, since Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE have agreed to give or loan Egypt $12 billion. According to Bloomberg:

Kuwait will deposit $2 billion with the Egyptian central bank, give a $1 billion grant and offer $1 billion worth of oil and oil products, state-run Kuna said in a text message today. Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. pledged $5 billion and $3 billion respectively yesterday.

The money from the Gulf Arab kleptocracies means that Egypt doesn’t have to worry if the United States cuts off aid.

The question is why the military, bureaucracy and others came together to stage this coup and what it means for future of Egypt. The author of fashioning a coup piece above said it best and I can only paste it below in bold to highlight how succinctly it captures its essence

With their July 3 coup, Egypt’s new military overlords and their staunch American backers are playing an age-old game, the game of turning the public against the ineluctable bickering, inefficiency, gridlock, and intense conflict that is part and parcel of a free political life, so that a disillusioned, fatigued people will pine for the stability and order that the military then swoops in to provide.

The acute but generative political conflict during Morsi’s blink-of-an-eye presidency was constantly amplified and then pathologized by the jealous custodians of the Egyptian state, with their repeated invocations of civil war and mass chaos to frighten people away from the vagaries of self-rule.

Like clockwork every few months, state agents facilitated the conditions for collective violence, dispatching provocateurs to demonstrations, removing police from the streets, standing back as communal violence broke out, resisting civilian oversight, and then ominously forecasting an impending breakdown of social order. The message is clear: left to your own devices, you will kill each other.

The ethos of collective self-confidence, cross-class cooperation, religious co-existence, and creative problem-solving on such magnificent display in the January 25 uprising spells the beginning of the end for the ruling military and civilian bureaucracy. So it had to be replaced with a manufactured mood of resignation and “realism,” the false realism that says: accept tutelage or face chaos.

As the recently self-designated “eminence grise” Mohamed ElBaradie summed it up, “Without Morsi’s removal from office, we would have been headed toward a fascist state, or there would have been a civil war.”

And that is the essence of the anti-political doctrine that worships order, fears political struggle, mistrusts popular striving, and kowtows to force majeure.

Further Reading

Egypt Coup : Engineered by military and supported by elite and West

The purpose of this post is to have a record for posterity as everything will be lost in the narrative and media barrage.

First things first. Was the removal of Morsi in Egypt was a coup or not. Well, if you go by the definitions collected, it definitely was a coup

Yes, That’s a Coup in Egypt

  • A coup d’état is defined as a forceful seizure of executive authority and office by a dissident/opposition faction within the country’s ruling or political elites that results in a substantial change in the executive leadership and the policies of the prior regime (although not necessarily in the nature of regime authority or mode of governance).
  • [Coups d’etat are defined as] overt attempts by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting head of state using unconstitutional means…there is no minimal death threshold for defining a coup. A coup attempt is defined as successful if the coup perpetrators seize and hold power for at least seven days.
  • The distinguishing characteristics of the coup coup d’état as a political technique are that: (a) it is the effort by a political coalition illegally to replace the existing governmental leaders by violence or the threat of violence; (b) the violence employed is usually small; (c) the number of people involved is small; (d) the participants already possess institutional bases of power within the political system.

You might wonder why this argument over whether its a coup or not goes on in media. Part of the reason is that Egypt gets aid to the tune of $1.5 Billion every year from US and if it is a coup against a democratically elected government, then that aid due to the laws prevailing in US will get suspended which neither the Egyptian Army nor US wants. On a different level, calling it a “revolution” and not a “coup” makes it palatable to its supporters.

Much of Rendon’s work is confidential—he enjoys a level of beyond–Top Secret clearance that even high-level intelligence analysts sometimes fail to get. His role in George W. Bush–era pro-U.S. propaganda in Iraq is unclear: While some sources claim he was a central figure in the effort, Rendon denies any involvement. But his dream is quite clear: “Rendon wants to see a world where television “can drive the policy process,” where border patrols [are] replaced by beaming patrols,” and where “you can win without fighting.”

Given all that, I was a bit surprised when the first weapon he referred me to was a very quotidian one: a thesaurus. The key to changing public opinion, Rendon said, is finding different ways to say the same thing. He described a matrix, with extreme language or opinion on one side and mild opinion on the other. By using sentiment analysis to figure out how people in a country felt about an event—say, a new arms deal with the United States—and identify the right synonyms to move them toward approval, you could “gradually nudge a debate.” “It’s a lot easier to be close to what reality is” and push it in the right direction, he said, than to make up a new reality entirely.”

Excerpted from Eli Parser, “Filter Bubble”

So if one sells the narrative that its continuation of revolution, one changes reality. No where this thesaurus is more prominent than the comments made by US. From NYT

America finds itself in a tight spot. After the coup, President Obama expressed “deep concern,” steering clear of any explicit condemnation. More troubling, he called for the restoration of “a” — not “the” — democratically elected government, an important distinction that won’t be lost on the Brotherhood.

Seeing that their narrative that this is not a coup is not getting traction, pro-coup Egyptians have resorted to calling it “soft coup” or “people-power-backed military coup” as if it is something unique or happened with Egyptian for first time in history.

Egypt’s misguided coup

Egyptians may claim there was something unique about the people-power-backed military coup that unfolded Wednesday in Cairo. But the world has witnessed many such putsches in the past half-century. From Buenos Aires to Bangkok, crowds have begged generals to oust democratically elected governments and cheered when they responded. Without exception, the results have been dismal: violence, if not civil wars; massive human rights violations; decades-long political conflicts.

Oh, and by the way, those removed from power sooner or later have returned.

The Islamic character of Egypt’s ousted government should not obscure the way the country resembles Argentina, Venezuela, Turkey, Thailand and other developing nations in which free elections after decades of autocracy have brought a new elite to power. The new rulers typically represent previously disenfranchised poor and rural populations, who often don’t share the cultural values of the capital’s middle and upper classes.

Once in office, new governments made up almost entirely of novice officials frequently overreach. They battle with the old establishment in the bureaucracy, judiciary and media. They write new constitutions in an attempt to lock in their electoral advantage. They tread on civil liberties. And, more often than not, they badly mismanage the economy by adopting populist measures that cater to their political bases.
Cairo’s secular middle class consequently had far less cause to take to the streets last weekend than did the pot-bangers in Allende’s Chile, the general strikers of Caracas or the yellow shirts of Bangkok. They can, however, expect much the same results — which will be anything but the liberal democracy they say they support.

Applauders of military coups have in common two illusions: that the generals share their agenda and that their hated opponents, despite their electoral victories, can be politically nullified. Invariably, neither turns out to be true. Armed forces aren’t good at convening roundtables or implementing liberal platforms; they are good at using force. Even if they don’t torture and kill, they sweep up nonviolent political leaders, shut down media they regard as troublesome and try to impose political rules protecting their own political and economic interests.
… the ultimate losers in this week’s coup will be those who cheered it on.

And here is another perspective from Authors of Why Nations Fail:

The Egyptian Paradox: Saving Democracy and Setting It Back

The first freely elected government of a country, where a large fraction of society is disenfranchised, disempowered and made to feel like second-class citizens, is ousted, in the name of saving democracy, by a military coup supported by former elites and “liberals”.

And the outcome? Three more military coups and more than 50 years later, a deep chasm in society that is still preventing the emergence of truly inclusive politics.

No, we are not talking about the future of Egypt (not directly in any case).

This is just a description of what happened in Turkey in 1960

…what Egypt needed was those ascended to power for the first time to peacefully lose an election — not because the other side cannot tolerate the very thought of those that have so far viewed as second-class sitting in the presidential palace but because they just messed up and weren’t governing well. Because they just lost the support of the ordinary people and had to leave the way they came, through the polls.

Just like in Turkey, Egypt needed assurances to both sides that inclusive politics in which every segment of society, regardless of creed, religion, gender and social status, can share power.

Instead, we have in our hands a military coup that confirms the worst fears of a very large fraction of the population — that the so-called liberal elites and the military that have ruled the country for so long will do anything not to share power with them (never mind that Mubarak and his cronies, together with the military, had also effectively sidelined the young and the liberals who have now turned into allies of the soldiers).

How will this segment of society ever trust democratic politics? How can we expect them not to work to undermine their opponents completely the moment they wrestle power nationally or locally? How can we now hope to end the Egyptian iron law of oligarchy?

As the authors have hinted above, Shadi Hamid also points to the fact that this will have a negative consequence for a large segment of society that decided to become part of mainstream and but the elites and military didn’t like it. And the consequences will be dangerous

Demoting Democracy in Egypt

The Brotherhood’s fall will have profound implications for the future of political Islam, reverberating across the region in potentially dangerous ways. One of the most important political developments of recent years was the decision of Islamist parties to make peace with democracy and commit to playing by the rules of the political game. Leaders counseled patience to their followers. Their time would come, they were told.

Now supporters of the Brotherhood will ask, with good reason, whether democracy still has anything to offer them. Mr. Morsi’s removal will breathe new life into the ideological claims of radicals. Al Qaeda and its followers have long argued that change can’t come through the democracy of “unbelievers”; violence is the only path. As the Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri once said, “What is truly regrettable is the rallying of thousands of duped Muslim youth in voter queues before ballot boxes instead of lining them up to fight in the cause of Allah.”

The events of this week could have similarly profound implications. In the hours after Mr. Morsi’s ouster, the new military leadership suspended the Constitution, shut down at least three Islamist television stations, and, more ominously, issued arrest warrants for at least 300 Brotherhood members. Prominent liberal voices are calling for “dissolving” the Brotherhood and holding what would amount to dubious show trials.

Then the narrative that the locals sell you that MB was hand-in-hand with US and Anne Patterson was against Morsi’s removal is pure hogwash and part of propaganda. This from NYTimes

Morsi Spurned Deals, Seeing Military as Tamed

As President Mohamed Morsi huddled in his guard’s quarters during his last hours as Egypt’s first elected leader, he received a call from an Arab foreign minister with a final offer to end a standoff with the country’s top generals, senior advisers with the president said.

The foreign minister said he was acting as an emissary of Washington, the advisers said, and he asked if Mr. Morsi would accept the appointment of a new prime minister and cabinet, one that would take over all legislative powers and replace his chosen provincial governors.

The aides said they already knew what Mr. Morsi’s answer would be. He had responded to a similar proposal by pointing at his neck. “This before that,” he had told his aides, repeating a vow to die before accepting what he considered a de facto coup and thus a crippling blow to Egyptian democracy.

His top foreign policy adviser, Essam el-Haddad, then left the room to call the United States ambassador, Anne W. Patterson, to say that Mr. Morsi refused. When he returned, he said he had spoken to Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser, and that the military takeover was about to begin, senior aides said.

“Mother just told us that we will stop playing in one hour,” an aide texted an associate, playing on a sarcastic Egyptian expression for the country’s Western patron, “Mother America.”

From Reuters:

What is clear is that despite Patterson’s public statements underlining Mursi’s democratic legitimacy – which drew sharp criticism in Egyptian media – there was no red light from Washington against military takeover.

It is not as if ouster was a surprise. In his own words, Mr. ElBaradei said that they were in touch with western powers before engaging the coup.

Prominent Egyptian Liberal Says He Sought West’s Support for Uprising

Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize-winning diplomat and Egypt’s most prominent liberal, said Thursday that he had worked hard to convince Western powers of what he called the necessity of forcibly ousting President Mohamed Morsi, contending that Mr. Morsi had bungled the country’s transition to an inclusive democracy.

What Morsi failed to realize or appreciate that he doesn’t control the military head on in your first year. Whereas Erdogan was successful in taming  military in Turkey but one has to remember that it was his third time, he is widely popular and most importantly he has distributed fruits of economic development widely thus strengthening his support base.

Cover Page of July 2012 Time Magazine

Mursi’s downfall

But relations between Mursi and his new generals deteriorated within months of his inauguration. Even Mursi’s apparent success in brokering a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip irked the military.

“Mursi’s intervention in the Gaza war made Egypt guarantee that Hamas would not carry out attacks on Israel. Which threatens Egyptian national security, because what if Hamas did? It could prompt Israel to retaliate against us,” the security source said.

Mursi also talked loosely about possible Egyptian participation in a jihad (holy war) to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, and raised the prospect of military action over a Nile River dam in Ethiopia. As a result, distrust of him grew in Egypt’s high command, which saw him as recklessly risking their involvement in conflicts without properly consulting and respecting the generals.

“It reached a point where we began to be worried about putting important national security reports in front of someone we perceived as a threat to national security,” the security source said.

The generals became equally alarmed about political and sectarian polarization in Egypt, against a backdrop of a sharply worsening economy. They had secured their own position in an Islamist-tinged constitution rammed through by Mursi’s allies last December, ensuring they would remain a state within a state, with limited parliamentary scrutiny of their economic privileges, armaments contracts and control of the vital Suez Canal. But they were increasingly concerned by what they saw as a risk of civil war.

By the time Mursi took office, Egypt’s economy, which had boomed for the rich with scant improvement for the poor in the late Mubarak years, was already in deep trouble. The military council which ruled in the 16-month transition from Mubarak’s overthrow to Mursi’s inauguration had failed to carry out long-overdue reforms of food and fuel subsidies or to negotiate a loan deal with the International Monetary Fund for fear of sparking unrest. Tourism and investment had dried up because of political instability.

Mursi’s bumbling, do-little administration only made things worse. While the Muslim Brotherhood remained the most powerful political force and ran a social welfare network that provided services to the poor and needy, millions of Egyptians felt no one was representing their interests.

What is clear is that military has been the real rulers of Egypt.

Egypt’s Cunning General: How the Military Plans to Keep Power

Egyptian President Morsi has been toppled, and a judge will be the country’s new interim leader. But in reality, he’s just a puppet. Behind the scenes, General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and his military apparatus will continue to call the shots.

Since it took power in a coup in 1952, the military has remained the most important political player in Egypt. Neither Mubarak’s fall in 2011, nor the short rule by Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, have changed this. El-Sissi demonstrated just how powerful the influence of the military’s generals is on Wednesday night, when, after giving Morsi 48 hours to leave office, he summarily informed the president that he was no longer the leader of the country. No matter that Morsi was the country’s first democratically elected head of state.

This time the head of the military has been trying from the outset to stay in the background. The events of Wednesday night are clearly a coup — the army has deposed a democratically elected president and suspended the constitution. Yet Sissi acted as if the generals had been compelled by the Egyptian people to intervene.

Indeed, many Egyptians have welcomed the coup. The military envisions a power-sharing setup where civilians will hold primary authority. That way, they will be the ones to draw the ire of the population as they slave away to solve the country’s disastrous economic situation and mend deep political divisions.

Behind the scenes, Sissi and his colleagues set the tone, especially in two areas: Security policy is traditionally their domain, but the government should also keep clear of the generals’ monetary privileges. The army is one of the most important economic power brokers in Egypt.

It remains to be seen whether this power-sharing structure will actually work. This is exactly what the military already tried in vain with the Muslim Brotherhood. But Morsi was rebellious. He began to interfere in security policy and didn’t take the sharp warnings of the generals seriously. From their perspective, things will work out better this time under the duo of military chief and top judiciary.

Below is a small write up on the military’s historic relationship with Egypt’s civil society, patriotism,self-interest, victory and defeat. In this way, it is not much different than Pakistan Army

The Egyptian Military’s Huge Historical Role

Army’s fall from grace

“The Egyptian army’s history is very much defined in relation to the Arab-Israeli conflict,” says Nezar Al-Sayyad, the chair of UC-Berkeley’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

The defeat undermined Egyptian monarch King Farouk, whom the Egyptian military blamed for what it considered a fiasco, and in 1952 a group of military officers led by Gamal Abdel Nasser staged a coup. The Egyptian Revolution of 1952, as it came to be known, established the modern Egyptian republic.

Under the charismatic and popular Nasser, the Egyptian Army sought to rebuild itself into a competent fighting force. It didn’t go well.

After a costly expeditionary campaign supporting Arab republican forces in Yemen’s civil war, Nasser led a second Arab coalition against Israel during the Six Day War of 1967. His forces suffered a spectacular defeat, losing the the entire Sinai peninsula—which Egypt had controlled—to Israeli forces.

The loss shredded the Egyptian army’s credibility. The military “not only withdrew [from Sinai], but in fact it lost its equipment and many soldiers came back running,” says Al-Sayyed. “The military became the butt of jokes within the Egyptian public.”

Army’s Redemption

In October 1973, Sadat led the third Arab coalition against Israel in the hopes of regaining the Sinai.

Although the war ended after three weeks with Israel in the advantage, the Egyptian Army enjoyed significant successes during its opening days, and Egypt later regained the Sinai peninsula as a result of the 1978 Camp David Accords.

The win destroyed the myth of Israeli invincibility and restored the reputation of the Egyptian army as a fighting force and defender of the nation’s interests.

Army discovers Capitalism

After Mubarak, a former general, took power following Sadat’s assassination in 1981, the military, backed by American aid, modernized and expanded its force. And when Mubarak launched economic liberalization in the 1990s, the military discovered something even better than American largesse: capitalism.

“The military became an economic company, if you will,” says Al-Sayyed. “It became an enterprise.”

Equipped with valuable and vast real estate and a conscript, low-paid workforce, the military began to insinuate itself into civil society through business, its holdings ranging from bread factories to chemical plants to hotels.

The armed forces’ public-private enterprises may account for up to 15 to 20 percent of GDP, according to Al-Sayyed, and the military took very good care of its officers with the wealth it accrued. As the military’s economic tentacles spread throughout society, its civil clout expanded, too.

What Way Forward?

During the massive protests that led to Mubarak’s ouster, the military—after a period of initial silence—publicly stated that its duty was above all to the people of Egypt, and soon wrested control from the 80-year-old autocrat.

During the period of military rule that followed, however, public opinion turned against the interim military government due to the widespread belief that it was dithering in relinquishing power.

The military seemed to recognize the fickle nature of voters in the drafting of Egypt’s 2012 constitution, ensuring that its privileges and powers were cemented in the new document.

Now, after unseating the unpopular Morsi, the military has public opinion back in its court.

“The majority of Egyptian people today see the army as a patriotic institution that can be trusted to act in the interests of the nation,” says Beinin. “The army has this reputation despite the fact that it has actually on many occasions, and especially in the recent years, acted to secure its own particular institutional interests and not acted for the interests of the nation.”

This tweet by Muslim Brotherhood spokesman makes it clear that how much of coup was engineered

But if you don’t want to buy what MB spokesman says, here it is coming from a journalist

The circus continues

Mohamed ElBaradei to be named Egypt’s interim PM: sources

Mansour held talks on Saturday with the army chief and political leaders, including ElBaradei, on how to pull the country out of crisis as the death toll from Islamist protests over the army’s overthrow of Mursi rose to at least 35.

Mansour later summoned ElBaradei back to the presidential palace, the state news agency reported, without giving more details.

The prime minister will be sworn in at 8 p.m. (2:00 p.m. EDT), state newspaper Al-Ahram reported, not naming who will be sworn in.

ElBaradei who is currently feeling no shame in accepting PM post in Egypt, had this to say in 2012

Mohamed ElBaradei quits Egyptian presidential race

“My conscience does not permit me to run for the presidency or any other official position unless it is within a democratic framework,”

But then this happens

Egypt PM dispute stalls government, Islamists call more protests

ElBaradei’s nomination had been confirmed by several sources and state media on Saturday, but just before midnight a presidential spokesman told reporters that the prime minister had not in fact been chosen.

The abrupt U-turn came amid opposition to the appointment by the Nour Party, Egypt’s second Islamist force after Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, highlighting the challenge the military faces in finding consensus among liberals and conservatives on who should run the country.

This made me tweet this

Things not to do when in Jordan

Last year I took a two day short sight seeing trip to Jordan. The idea was to rent a car from the airport and look at everything that was possible in two days. We went to the Dead Sea (the novelty dies down in 15 minutes once you realize that only thing to do is float on your back. period), Petra, Jerash, Aqaba, Wadi-e-Ram, mount Nebo (where you can receive welcoming texts from Israeli cellphone services on your cellphone) etc.

My colleague was harassed at the immigration on why did he come to Jordan (both of us had a green passport and advance clearance had already been taken by Jordanian Embassy from their Interior Ministry before granting us a tourist visa) however we were let off after half an hour of meaningless questioning.

While driving along the Dead Sea we came to many check posts commanded by Jordanian Army with a tank, a jeep mounted machine gun and a few soldiers. Dead Sea is as wide as Indus River and Israel is on the other side of it. At every checkpost they would address us with Arabic salutations i.e., Alhamdolillah Ala Salama (thank God for your safety) or Yateek Al Afiya ([God] gives you wellness). Though not used to speaking in Arabic  we would reply in English. As non-western and non-arabic tourists, the officers would be surprised to find us in that area. They would ask us for our passports and inquire where are we taking that road. On finding a suitable reply they would let us proceed never checking the car nor the trunk (not that it contained anything).

After six checkposts, we got used to the routine. When we approached the seventh checkpost, before the car came to stop by the officer, my colleague who was sitting on the passenger seat slightly bent down to open the dashboard and take out our passports. From the corner of my eye I could see that the officer on the machine gun mounted jeep suddenly became alert and took the aim of my colleague. I whispered under my breath in a very strict tone “Bhench##$. Leave whatever you are doing and sit back slowly”. Luckily he did as he was told. The officer on the road came to my side of the window once the car stopped completely and followed the same routine of questioning and passport. The guy on the jeep remained alert all the time with the gun loaded and aimed towards us. Finally, when the officer was satisfied, he let us go and the officer on the jeep relaxed. This was a close call. I told my colleague to never do anything so stupid unless specifically asked for by the officer.

From now on we moved inwards into the country to go towards Aqaba (newly developed sea port on red sea) and again the same routine of checkposts every few miles. Finally, at one of the checkpost we decided to use Arabic. Whats the use of knowing a foreign language if you can’t use it. We thought, what the hell, we might get some smiles out of the people. So at the next checkpost, when the military officer said Alhamdolliah ala salamah, we replied Allah sallimak which also means the same thing. Then he asked where are we going and we said Aqabah. Then he asked for our documents and we brought out our passports. He asked us to step out of the car and stepped back to the check post never turning his back to us and though not shouting yet announcing that yehki bil arabi..yehki bil arabi (they are talking in arabic)…everyone loaded their guns…we froze…their superior officer came and asked us where were we going. Ordered us to open the trunk and went through our backpacks as well as dashboard and even had someone look under the seats. After some more meaningless questions he let us go.

From then onwards, our communication in Jordan even where the guy didn’t know an iota of English was in English or sign language.

The trip otherwise was wonderful