Politicalmonkey2010

The Truth Shall Set You Free…It might piss you off first, but it will set you free.

Egypt – the Soft Coup d’État

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on February 28, 2011

I am still some what surprised that relatively few people  seem to be calling the outcome of the Egyptian  revolution what it was and is –  a Coup d’État.  This was not about Mubarak stepping down, about Mubarak giving the power to the military, it was a Coup d’État, he was stripped of power.  Not that I have been through many Coup d’États, but if one defines it as:  a sudden overthrow of a government by the military in order to replace a part or all of the previous government, this is what happened.

From the beginning the headlines screamed “Mubarak Steps Down” – this was not a voluntary event by any stretch of the imagination.  The subtle and not so subtle signs were there.

Let me stress that this is purely my speculation, nobody will ever really know what happened for a very long time, as the story continues to unfold more and more pieces of the puzzle are added.  From my perspective and timeline, the following events were significant.

  • When the army rolled into the streets on Jan. 28, and did not stop the protests, the parlor games began in Egypt.  What would the military do?  Everybody knew the fate of this country was in the hands of the military.
  • The next clue that somebody else was in calling the shots came when Mubarak appointed a Vice President on Jan. 29.   For over 30 years Mubarak has never had a V.P. – and since he was at one time the V.P. of Egypt he knows how one moves to the office of President.  Even the choice of VP was not not in Mubarak’s hand.  As Wikileaks reported in a cable dated 2007-04-04, Gamal Mubarak, the son of Egypt’s last Pharaoh viewed  the Minister of Defense Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and EGIS head Omar Suleiman as a threat to his presidential ambitions.  The cable went on to say that Gamal and his clique were angling to get rid of these two men with a cabinet shuffle.  Israel was very comfortable according to another Wikileak’s cable with Suleiman, he was viewed as a known contact.  Other cables leaks indicated that Mubarak had been promising Suleiman for at least 6 years he would be VP. The video below shows Mubarak swearing in VP Suleiman, look at the body language, this was not a happy event.

Immediately after appointing a VP, Suleiman became the spokesperson, news videos showed him addressing the cabinet.  Mubarak was taken out of the picture.  The hope was that appointing a VP, promising not to run for President, sacking the current cabinet and promising constitutional change would be enough to satisfy the protesters.  It was not.

  • The ante was upped significantly when prisoner’s were released throughout the country, and the police had literally disappeared off the streets on Jan. 29.  It is widely believed that this very scenario, the police disappearing, criminals on the streets was planned well in advance, perhaps taken directly from the  Saddam Hussein playbook.    Some say it was the plan that when Gamal took over the “throne” if people protested they would unleash the chaos, terrify people into submission and acceptance, Gamal would then restore order and be  hailed a hero.  The Interior Minister Habib Adly, who is currently under arrest was believed to be the puppet master behind the events.  As wild and outlandish as this may sound to sane an reasonable people, sane and reasonable people have never been consumed with the seduction of power and greed.   Did it make any sense at all when Saddam Hussein lit the oil fields  on fire when he left Kuwait?  This was a regime, a dynasty in its death throes, and nothing was going to be sacred.  Not the country, and not the people.
  • Jan. 30 – helicopters and F16s fly over Tahrir Square.  This was one of the most bizarre events, I remember thinking to myself, he is going to demolish the square and all of those people.

Some of the Arabic papers have in recent days suggested that in fact, it was Mubarak, at Gamal’s  insistence by passed the chain of command, and as Commander in Chief ordered, the tanks on the ground to open fire, and the Air Force to begin assessing the crowd for either using helicopters with machine guns mounted, or literally dropping a bomb on Tahrir Square.  It was Tiananmen Square Egyptian Style.  Robert Fisk, who is a reporter who has covered the middle east for many years,  and has received more British and International Journalism awards than any other foreign correspondent was on the ground reported:

“…But the critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.

Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.” (Source)

That was the tipping point.  The military was not falling in line, most if not all were in agreement that they would not open fire on their fellow citizens.

  • Feb 2, violent clashes with “Pro Government” protesters broke out.  It was evident to all that these protesters were paid by the National Democratic Party, the ruling party in Egypt.  Some were government employees who were given a choice to either protest or not be paid.  Some were given an incentive, go and protest and we will give you an additional month’s salary.   Some were paid thugs, some were secret police in plain clothes, foreigners were targeted, journalist were targeted.  For the record, never have I felt threatened in Egypt at any time of day or night.   This was not the Egypt I knew for one very simple reason, these were not true Egyptians, these were paid thugs.  During the crisis my neighbors, my business contacts – each and every one of them checked on me continually in person.  Perhaps I am just the village idiot, but to be quite honest I felt safe.
  • A stronger sign that the coup was in place was on Feb. 10 – the Supreme Military Council met without Mubarak present, this was the second time they had met and Mubarak was not present.
  • Finally on Thursday evening General Hassan al-Rawani told the massive crowds  that “everything you want will be realised – all your demands will be met”, the people cried back: “The army and the people stand together – the army and the people are united. The army and the people belong to one hand.”

Everybody, from the Generals to the White House and everybody in between believed Mubarak was going to step down.  He didn’t, what happened?

Rumors were ripe in the Arabic newspapers, while we may never truly know what happened during those final days, there is one fairly safe assumption, Mubarak and his family had ever intention of riding this out.  It was not until Feb. 5, that Mubarak’s son, Gamal resigned from the National Democratic Party.  Keep in mind with the way the constitution was written, there literally was nobody else who would qualify to run for President.  The heir apparent had absolutely no interest in appeasing the protesters, this in  his mind was his rightful throne, and  he was not going to give it up easily.  It was widely assumed that Gamal would be the next President.  I remember sitting with a group of Egyptians watching the news – footage from Alexandria was being shown, posters saying “Yes to Gamal”.   One of the men in the group who was rather ambivalent about the protests leaned forward to look closer at the TV, you could literally see his face change.  He got up, and announced that he was going to go to Tahrir Square and join the protesters.

Reports began to surface that the military had prepared a speech for Mubarak to give, a way for him to exit with some dignity.  Gamal had rewritten the speech several times, and of course no where in the speech that was delivered were the words I am stepping down.  Many newspapers in the region have speculated about the final hours – Gamal and his brother Alaa fought over what was happening.  Alaa blamed Gamal for his father’s predicament, citing his greed for power.   According to palace insiders they almost came to blows.   Not that Alaa was innocent, but it must be said he never sought the power of the office of President.   Material greed was Alaa’s achille’s heel.   Virtually every large business franchise in Egypt he had a percentage in..by hook or by crook, as did all the family.  A famous story is often told in Egypt about the man who had the Peugeot dealership, Wagih Abaza was forced to take Alaa in as a partner.  He called Mubarak the day after Alaa came on board, saying he was trying to ruin everything, he didn’t understand business.  Mubarak shrugged it away and suggested that the man treat him as a son.  The next day he dropped dead.

It was a very polite Coup d’État, it was designed to try to give Mubarak a dignified exit, which Mubarak and his sons managed to ruin for themselves. Instead what was given was a refusal to step down.  I was so busy with the translation it wasn’t until much later we I re-watched it, that the poor editing job was evident, and the body language reflected a man at odds with himself.  The video below is in Arabic, there are plenty out there with translations, but sometimes it is insightful just to listen to the cadence of the voice, the body language, the editing..

 

It became immediately evident that he was no going any where, and as the crowd erupted and the anger grew, many started to march toward one of the Presidential palaces.  It was Thursday night,  many reported General Tantawi came out of the Presidential Palace and started passing out candy to the crowd.  A strange event to be sure, but let’s be honest, it was par for the course, nothing was predictable.  Speculation is that after the airing of Mubarak’s speech, where he did not step down, the military told him it was over.

Finally, in the video below, VP Suleiman, gives what can only be described as the briefest of speeches, to announce that Mubarak has stepped down and given control of the country to the Military Supreme Council.  Believe it or not that is not what caught the eyes of the Egyptians.  Who was the man standing behind Suleiman?  His eyes constantly moving…Egyptians with their delightful sense of humor were having a field day.  Finally, the mystery was revealed via Facebook.    “The guy behind Omar Suleiman” was none other than Egyptian army Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Sharif, commander of Group 64 of Egyptian Special Forces.  Lieutenant Colonel Sharif’s son identified his father on his Facebook page, and called on people to apologize for their remarks.  Which they did, many Facebook users expressed their regret for ridiculing the army officer, and paid their respects to him, writing “this man is an honorable army officer and deserves all the respect” and “”we respect all the armed forces for protecting the revolution and protecting the homeland” with a more lighthearted poster wrote “he [Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Sharif] is the greatest, and I wish I was the guy standing behind Omar Suleiman!”

Maybe nobody wants to call it what it was… a Coup d’État.  That conjures up all kinds of negative images..military juntas, martial law.  Egypt’s last Pharaoh, last Dynasty did not step down, but was quietly, politely taken down ultimately by the military, they tried to give one of their own an honorable exit and let the speech read that Mubarak had stepped down.   The problem with trying to give somebody honor  when they have lost the ability to act with honor is becoming more and more evident with each passing day, with each additional investigation.  Much like buying a house and deciding to paint it, when you start to do the prep work and scrape away the paint on the surface, you find out underneath all that paint is nothing but pure rot.  It was a soft a Coup d’État, I do not believe that the military has any intention of staying in “power”, I think at this point their intentions are honorable, and they have done exactly what they have said they would do to date.

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