Revolution@1: The Egyptian army’s mutiny against the people

By Wael Eskandar

Egypt's junta and its army of collaborators have betrayed the , but the people will rise again.

Saturday 21 January 2012

An Egyptian wakes up almost one year after what he thought had been a finished revolution only to realize how abandoned and betrayed he is.  There has been much talk about what Egyptians have gained over the past 12 eventful months. Well, the one thing we truly gained over this year worth anything is knowledge.

We wake up each day and look around us in the knowledge that there's no one truly on our side. With few friends far and between, we have only ourselves to rely on. We now have the knowledge that we are betrayed by our police, our judiciary, our legislature, our media, our army, our ministries, our parties and even our religious institutions. It was the spark lit on 25 January and the wildfire that followed which awoke us to the daunting realisation of these long-buried facts. 

Never has this systematic treason been put to as much use as it has since Egyptians took to the streets and tried to take back what is rightfully theirs. All institutions were utilised to subdue the will of the Egyptian people. The odds were stacked against us from the very start, more than we could have foreseen. The faces of our institutions have been laid bare and despite our expectations, these faces turned out to be uglier than we could have imagined.

Injustices have been endured by Egyptians in great part through but all the more now it has become apparent that the leaders have betrayed the cause of their followers.  al-Azhar does not hesitate to issue a ‘fatwa' (Islamic ruling) if the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces () so desires. The Coptic Pope does not think twice about singing the false praises of the ruling military junta, the murderers of his flock. The political parties which embrace  are ready to do their duty to manipulate the poor through religion and bribes, and defend the well-being and honour of the military, the rapists of our country.

One year on and we're starting to comprehend what Robert Springborg  had said back on 2 February 2011 and Ellis Goldberg knew on 11 February before it had really begun. Springborg said, “The real opposition will initially be ignored, and then possibly rounded up,” and that is pretty much what has been happening.  “The game is, thus, more or less over.”

As if prophetic of the way we will be swindled, Goldberg said, “Instead of pursuing institutional change, leading military figures will likely try to satisfy the public with symbolic gestures.” 

The mock Mubarak trials, the cosmetic change in government, the elections; all fulfill the prophesy.  Instead of moving towards , we are experiencing “the culmination of the slow-motion coup and the return of the somewhat austere military of decades past”.

And what we have now is as Goldberg perfectly summed it up, “Mubarakism without Mubarak.”  Nobody wants freedom for this country; those who have power to fix it do not have the will and those who have the will do not have the power.

Egypt is not Tunisia, they once said. It's true. If Egypt had been Tunisia we would have had more of a chance to of being liberated.  State media has propagated the claim that foreign elements are undermining democracy efforts and they are, by supporting the brutal SCAF. Egypt has borders with Israel and that's why we cannot be free. Egypt‘s military is controlled by United States interests and that's why we cannot be free.

Years of receiving billions of dollars in military bribes has created a monster of an army that is incapable of fighting anyone but its people. Years of combined with these bribes have given a few men from the army control over 25% to 40% of Egypt's . The army's activities have shifted from defence-related investments to producing bottled water and pasta – well, at least they can't run us over with those. We slave away for the murderers; their wealth grows as does the poverty of the people.

Our country is ruled by a military junta. On 25 January they will be celebrating but Egyptians should be mourning. Protesters and revolutionaries will be mourning; they will be mourning their dead.

The SCAF will celebrate a triumph over a very pure and compelling revolution. They will celebrate the release of officers who killed protesters. They will celebrate keeping their corrupt men in their positions. They will celebrate their ability to kill Egyptians almost every month last year without reproach or repercussions. They will celebrate the fact that they are above the law and not one army or police officer was tried properly for their crimes – perhaps this is to ensure that others continue the execution of brutal orders the next time they are given. 

They will celebrate their control over the legislative, judiciary and executive bodies, and the press. They will celebrate the powers they will keep even after “handing over” power. They will celebrate taking every decision against the will of the people. They will celebrate the decisions they've taken to protect their interests at the expense of Egyptians. They will celebrate their power. They will celebrate their lies.

We will mourn our wounded and our dead whose blood screams from the ground. We will look back at the prospect of having taken down that venomous state television building known as Maspero. We will remember how we were tricked into thinking there was any honour in those dishonourable army men we foolishly trusted. We will mourn the institutions that we trusted and remember how they have sold us out.

The first anniversary of the revolution is not a day for Egyptians to celebrate but to mourn our dead. A day to remember our awakening and a day to remember what we fought for.  Perhaps it can also be a day to start fighting once again.

A year has passed and we now know of our enslavement. A year has passed but the streets are full of marches and screenings of army brutality.  But over that time I've seen many inspiring faces.  I've seen brave Egyptians calling in the darkest times against their oppressors. I've seen valiant protesters walking into danger unarmed. I've seen them camped out in the cold in and marching in the heat.  I remember their faces and I know they have broken free and that for them there is no turning back. I cannot conceive of a way for these determined warriors to be subdued by an oppressive force that wishes them enslaved.

This article is part of a special series to mark the first anniversary of the Egyptian revolution.


  • Wael Eskandar

    Wael Eskandar is an Egyptian journalist and blogger based in Cairo. He writes about cultural, social and political issues. He blogs at and writes for Ahram Online. @weskandar on twitter.

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