Egypt: Bullets not Ballots Rule

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends a military ceremony at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris on October 24, 2017.

by Sami Jamil Jadallah

Red lines are crossed when political groups or individuals take up arms as part of civil protests seeking political or economic change.

Governments and regimes also cross red-line when they use deadly military forces to quell such protests and invite the populations to take up arms and engage in popular and armed uprising to topple the regime and change the nature of the state.

We have seen this in Libya and in Syria. The sad tragic and deadly events in Egypt show both the military and the Brotherhood are unfit to lead and govern.

In the January uprising, Mubarak regime and in a desperate attempts to thwart the popular uprising threatening the regime, both official media and ministry of interior engaged in lies and manufacturing the truth with many so-called “credible” media such as Al-Ahram and Egyptian television including well-known journalists took up the lies, with claims that Arab looking (Palestinians) are caught red-handed in Tahrir Square with weapons, arms and communication gears, same claims now against the Brotherhood.

Egyptian television stations and well-known journalists went so far in manufacture the truth airing interviews with a “journalist” claiming she was part of a large group trained by Israel and Qatar in the US to help overthrow the Mubarak regime. It came out later that this “journalist” was on the payroll of a major government media. In Egypt then and now and as always the truth is the first victim.

If the claims by the military regime that the Muslims Brothers engaged in violent uprisings and use of weapon then this undermine the claims by the Brotherhood that the demonstration and protests are “peaceful”. However, from past experience, it seems everyone in Egypt is engaged in lies and manufacturing the truth. The number of fatalities within police and military ranks does not fit the claims that the Brothers are engaged in well-organized armed insurrection and acts of terrorism.

Burning of churches, public buildings, and destruction of private properties is a crime no matter how anyone looks at whether committed by the Brotherhood or the military or its thugs. The burning of churches reminds up of the television claim by convicted former minister of interior Habib Al- Adly who falsely claimed that “armed foreigners i.e. Palestinians” were behind the burning of the Coptic Saints Church in Alexandria only to emerge later that ministry of interior thugs were the ones that fired bomb the church.

Burning of churches and public buildings should disqualify the Brotherhoods from public office in the same way it should disqualify the military and ministry of interior from qualifying to rule the state. One has to question why the burning of churches and headquarters or the Brotherhood was not a crime before the coup, but a crime after?

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General Al-Sisi, the minister of defense and head of the Egyptian military seems to be in too much harry to join infamous generals the likes of Augusto Jose Pinochet (Chile) Rafael Viola (Argentina) and Magalhaes Pinto (Brazil) among the many generals who aborted and snuffed democracy and the will of the people through ballot boxes. Military coup and bullets are no substitute for ballots.

General Al-Sisi and his generals are not about to let go of the absolute power the military has held over Egypt since Nasser came to power even if it means burring down Egypt and everything in it.

I could not help but see some similarities and contrasts between what is happening in Egypt and what happened in Chile. In Egypt General Al-Sisi and his generals could not and will never accept a civilian government in Egypt, let alone accept the idea that the military is under civilian rule and accountability.

There are too many economic and personal stakes in such a decision. The military in Egypt is a business, a big conglomerate, racketeering enterprise with a substantial share of the economic life in Egypt with the defense of the country is a side by-product.

The Egyptian military was too anxious to precipitate the downfall of the Brotherhood and the democratically elected president and parliament and one year of Morsi rule was too much to take and the military could not accept the interruption of the military rule that governed since 1953.

The rule of the Brotherhood was doomed to fail without any military intervention. If the Egyptians waited some 60 years and tolerated the failings of the military regime, they could have waited a couple of years, certainly, if there was goodwill from both sides all the blood and killings could have been avoided.

In Chile, General Pinochet and his generals initially were not interested in governing but for the active instigation of the US and its CIA. The Chilean military was always and for many years accepted even promoted their professional not political role in the affairs of the state. Of course, the military coupe made sure 48 years stretch of the democratic rule comes to an abrupt end with the killing of the first “socialist” freely elected president in the history of Latin America.

The United States with the conniving war criminal like of Henry Kissinger engaged fully in the toppling of the Allende regime supplying $10 million in the process and supplying the missiles that hit the presidential palace. In contrast, the US invested more than $66 billion in the Egyptian military since Sadat –Begin Camp David. General Al-Sisi and his generals did not need any incitement to bring an end to the rule of the first Muslim Brothers elected to office making it would be the last.

According to the Rettig Report, in Chile, General Pinochet regime killed and murdered 3,065 citizens tortured 31,947 with 2,279 who simply disappeared. In addition to the 1,312 exiled. This happened over a period of time (1973-1998).

In contrast to the Brothers claimed over 3,000 killed while the official estimate is at more than hundred add to this the 38 political prisoners killed in the prison van, break the records set by the Pinochet of Chile in his first week of power, and if one is to count the number of those were tortured by the military regime since Nasser days then Egypt breaks all the records set forth by Brazil, Argentina and Chile combined.

It is so ironic that Allende and Morsi both promoted the generals that toppled them. Allende promoted Pinochet and Morsi promoted Al-Sissi weeks perhaps months before the military coup. While Chile returned to civilian rule and ballot based democracy, it is very unlikely that Egypt will ever see ballot based democracy.

While Chilean liberal and democrats struggled for years to bring about an end to the military regime and the re-introduction of civilian rules, Egyptian secularists and liberals are riding on top of military tanks to bring back military regime and end once and for all any chance a civilian democratically elected government and parliament.

In Egypt the chance of having a truly democratic government, with separate and independent branches, executive Legislative and judiciary seem unlikely to ever take place. Too bad for Egyptians, for Arabs and for the world, the blood bath in Rabiya Al-adawyia erased the euphoric spirit of Tahrir Square.

Political Islam of the Muslim Brotherhood as we have seen it so far is a total failure as an alternative to military regimes. In the same way, military regimes could never be a valid and credible alternative to elected governments. In Egypt bullets, not ballots rule.

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