For me this is a military country
“…and I think that you, you are not free. For me this is a military country, because when you try to take a picture on the train or in a bus. People stop and see, why they see? All the people are thinking that we are spies, all people who have cameras are spies in this country. And it’s…it’s very sad…for you, and for all the people. I think when you don’t have visas to travel this isn’t democracy, I have a visa and I can travel all around the world, but Egyptian people can’t travel. All these issues are against democracy…” Random Foreign Journalist – Tahrir Square, March’12
As I spend my days in the two weeks of “Military Education”, which is obligatory for any university male students, who have to spend two weeks within their 4 or 5 years of High education in this “Military Education Course”. It’s a preparation for those of them who are going to do their “Military Service” later on in the armed forces sectors. Anyway, as days go by I keep having this thought in my head about the country and how it is run. And then I remembered what that journalist said when we were shooting our Democracy documentary.
I’ve always been thinking about Egypt as a country and what I call our “National Aim”, things the whole country should be working on. These thoughts have increased after the 25th of January Revolution, which I now deem -sorrowfully- a failure. With SCAF seizing power and chaining themselves to it. Anyways, I couldn’t get my hands on anything, and even I observed the lives of the family, the friends, the strangers, the celebrities and the population. It seemed to me that there’s no collective direction they’re all moving towards. Like, what are the future plans and what is Egypt trying to achieve now, next year, 5 years later or after a decade? And how can the nation support and serve that? It only seemed to me that the majority of the population have been locked down in looped routines, the destiny and destination of the country lies within the hands of a very few who have the authority and power, they make the decisions for the country and consequently the decisions for the general population. The mentality of “Never question & keep your heads down, we’re taking care of shit” is common amongst all. It further helps in keeping things as they are.
So now after two weeks of Military Education, I’m thinking that this “National Aim” is absolutely of military nature. Every aspect, parameter, system, law, decision, field favors the “Egyptian Armed Forces” and is geared towards fully serving it.
Through the few lectures we’ve been given, we’ve been fed stories about the Egyptian Army being superior by being inferior! And the whole idea from having this country running is to protect its borders, which is logical. But which borders to be accurate, The northern/north-eastern ones of course, the ones we share with “Israel”. With Israel being our sole enemy, we’re just tossing our military weight there. Since the 1973 wars, it’s all been about reinforcing the positions in Sinai, Suez, Portsaid and Ismailia. By land or sea, we’re threatened by them. And such threat is what puts the whole country in motion.
I don’t have a problem with the goal as it goes well with logic and it matches the country’s faith & the majority’s religious beliefs, at least to those who care. But let’s stop and think for a moment, let’s agree to one thing, a single thought: Egypt as a country has downright military goals and absolute military priorities above all.
So now we agree that we’re a country whose one and only aim is the strong, permanent and continuous protection of its land and borders from our sole enemy represented by the state of Israel, which is certainly the Armed Forces’ job and they have to do the best they can to keep the country safe. Given that the Egyptian Intelligence feeds them with information showing that Israel’s military abilities are at constant upgrade, using USA’s powerful support.
What you have to do is to observe how the placement of authority works in Egypt. You have to also reconsider the structure and the sequence of the different systems: Political, Economical & Social. And how they deliver to one another and altogether to the Egyptian Armed Forces eventually. You’ll find out that they all have been constructed to serve, provide and empower the Armed Forces. Whose needs are constantly changing to be par with the constantly upgrading Israeli Army.
So what does Egypt as a country produce to fulfill its military objectives?
-“The Society” produces youth, youth who went through a mediocre and an incompetent educational system, a system that doesn’t qualify them to be specialists or scientists. It’s geared towards producing a range of soldiers, differentiated by how far did they get into their education (تعليم ثانوي – فني – جامعي) and what field of study did they manage to choose (مؤهل عالي – متوسط – عادي). To the fresh graduates with high degrees, they begin to sell the recruitment in the Military Academies using the two weeks of Military Education and the obligatory military duty. Through guaranteed privileges that are harder to find elsewhere, whether material or immaterial. I would not judge those who join the Army for pure patriotic reasons but recently the main reason youth lead a military career are those privileges. Moreover, those who have lesser degrees of education are used to just fill the gaps under the higher commanders, a vast human resource and it’s a resource they get for free. This resource gives them the ability to pull off lots of projects with an unmentionable cost.
-“The Economy” doesn’t serve the country’s general population. It’s mainly a reserve for the Army, leaving only the crumbs to its people. Keeping them always in need and on the lookout for the tiniest opportunity to get more.
-“Investment” whether local or foreign are weighed by how much do they benefit the military institution, keeping the normal citizen uncared for, out of the equation, left out of any development or growth plans. I can even claim that the general population is just an item used as a bargaining element with the biggest entities like International Organizations and Multi-national Companies, using what our people are best at: Consumerism.
-“Civil society” is marginalized, restricted and listed as being active on foreign finance for the sole purpose of spreading chaos and disrupting the country’s stability. This weakness further supporting the Army and minimizing its internal worries and concerns. To them, their presence would cause a non-stop headache which the International Powers would use as an excuse to interfere and consequently question the tailored conditions and authority.
-“Media” is severely controlled and used to spread the ideology the supports the continuity of the cycle. Planting fear in people’s mind that Israel is just a push of a button away from invading our land, using the people’s fear and detest towards the previous times of war.
This biased hierarchy and unjust treatment contrast, gives back-climbing ass-kissing opportunists the chance to have an edge, those who only care for themselves and their personal benefit with no real intention of truly serving the country. Paving the way for opportunist business men who would create connections with the authorities to run illegal activities or make quick profit, leaving the general population poorer and poorer.
This also led to an appalling fall for the private & civil sectors, being in a great disadvantage in comparison. Working isn’t always rewarding, not financially nor morally, you’d be squeezed into doing your work because you’re always in danger of getting fired and losing the little you already have.
The way I see it, the Army always had the president and his government under control, preserving its already high undisputable status which got fixated as time passed allowing the Army to decide the country’s direction. Any internal movement arising is silenced or uprooted, considered a parasitic virus which is dealt with violently to prevent future ones. It gives no hope whatsoever for the new president and his government to make a sensible change in the country.