Monday, May 23, 2011

#NoSCAF - Facts and Opinions

This is the collection of the tweet chain I wrote celebrating the May23 Bash SCAF day..

#NoSCAF: Fact 1 - Jan28 first wave of Army APCs was actually attacked cuz of suspicion of aiding police. 1 APC was burnt

#NoSCAF: Fact 2 - Jan30 2 F16 fighter jets perform low-altitude maneuvers over #Tahrir to intimidate/frighten protesters

#NoSCAF: Fact 3 - Feb2 Army watches #Tahrir attacked with live ammo & molotov but keeps negative, even when attacked

#NoSCAF: Fact 4 - Feb3 Military Police attack human rights centers, arresting members and confiscate equipment (En)

#NoSCAF: Fact 5 - PreFeb11 Military Police involved in detention & torture of activists & protesters (En) (Ar)

#NoSCAF: Fact 6 - Feb12 After #Mubarak's ouster, first decision by #SCAF was to ban photography in #Tahrir & confiscate all cameras.

#NoSCAF: Fact 7 - Head of #SCAF was minister of Defence in all #Mubarak's Govs for 20 years and Head of Presidential Guard before that!

#NoSCAF: Fact 8 - #Mubarak cut all communications even sms, but after his ouster, #SCAF used sms to spread their propaganda nation wide.

#NoSCAF: Fact 9 - Feb20 Woman got squashed by Army tank in city of Suez when Army forcefully break a protests (Ar)

#NoSCAF: Fact 10 - Feb25 Army cut electricity from #Tahrir and attack protesters at midnight (Ar)

#NoSCAF: Fact 11 - #SCAF faced the threat of Army defects siding with the people since Feb10 starting with Shouman (Ar)

#NoSCAF: Fact 12 - News of the Army hijacking the #Jan25 Revolution started to spread as early as Feb14 (En)

#NoSCAF: The Army chose to side with the people on Feb10 cuz of 2 reasons, 1 fear of defections 2 SCAF had the same goal of ousting Mubarak.

#NoSCAF: The Egyptian regime was established on a Military coup in 52 and Mubarak's plan to name his son as successor was a threat to SCAF.

#NoSCAF: The #Jan25 Revolution gave #SCAF the perfect opportunity to save their control over the regime and preserve their own interests.

#NoSCAF: The 20 #SCAF members owe their careers to#Mubarak and had been there witnessing all the corruption over 30 years. Why move now?

#NoSCAF: When it was clear on Feb10 that Mubarak will not step down, SCAF staged a coup to force him to resign and took direct control.

#NoSCAF: Feb10 was a military coup that used the cover of protests to force Mubarak out of office in order to preserve the military regime.

#NoSCAF: 2011 started with an old soldier running #Egypt, and it will end with a bunch of old soldiers running #Egypt. Nothing has changed!

#NoSCAF: A MUST READ - #Egypt: The Distance Between Enthusiasm and Reality (En) (STRATFOR - Feb14 - George Friedman)

Happy Bashday SCAF.

Friday, April 15, 2011

‘Republic of PortoTora’ Prison

The year is 2025. The day is February 11th. Clear weather and sun shine were promising it to be a good day. Despite that, you could easily notice the anxiety in the air around the heavily guarded walls of the prison. Renamed 14 years ago, as a result of an internal referendum rumored to be rigged, the Republic of PortoTora prison has been enjoying the bless of stability, under the guidance of its 96-years-of-age-but-heart-of-a-30-year-old inmate President, Kobhi (قبحي) Mubarak.

The choking anxiety was attributed to the recent events the RPT prison has been experiencing for the past 18 days. A group of the young inmates called for protests all around the different compounds of the prison. Crowds of more than a 100 fellow inmates, including the Prison Brotherhood banned group, have responded to the call and fought the 15 guards on duty, to occupy the prison’s main square; Ifrag (افراج) square. They have been organizing a sit-in ever since. Their protests were initially for better meals, better facilities, and equality with other high profile inmates. All that changed when more than 10 were reported dead during what later came to be known as the ‘dog battle’, where pro-Mubarak NDP (National Democratic Prison) inmates attacked the protesters with stray dogs and rats. The protesters held strong, only to demand the immediate banishment of Mubarak and his posse.      

Mubarak had all his loyal men around him. His right hand man, Zakariya Ya’esi (يئسي), who had been reassuring the inmate President since the start of the protests that the majority of the prison population still love him and regard him as their grandfather. Chief personal guard, Kareeh (كريه) el Adly, had failed in his job to protect the inmate President since day 3 of the uprising, and had since taken a backseat role publicly wearing his pinkish bathrobe. The one who jumped into action and took the lead in orchestrating the attack of the ‘dog battle’, was Safwat al Sha’en (الشائن) the prison’s official pimp.

Other figures of Mubarak’s posse were also showing their loyalty and support. His legal advisor, Fathi Ekti’ab (اكتئاب) who holds a PhD titled ‘The hypocritical excellence in the instant agreeability of a show of hands’, tried to turn the protesters on each other by spreading hate between inmates of the eastern and western compounds. His propaganda campaigner, Sa’am (سأم) al Fikki, staged a fake publicity stunt presented by the semi-famous announcer duo Abd (عبد) and Estihala (إستحالة) accusing protesters of being infiltrators from another prison. Meanwhile, Mubarak’s high profile posse member, the mini-sized business-inmate Ahmad Fakr (فقر), owner of the prison’s only soap distributing company ‘Fakr al Dekheila’, gave several speeches denying his accountability of illicit profiteering.

It’s also worth mentioning that some reports claim that yesterday, February 10th,  Mubarak’s older son, Enhidar (إنحدار) slapped his younger brother, Dameem (دميم) on the face as a result of a fight between the two. Their mother, Suzanne Mohtazz (مهتز), was reported to have fainted witnessing the fight.

After 18 continuous days of mass demonstrations, the protesters decided today that enough was enough. They marched towards the Presidential cell, attacked the 2 useless guards at the door and stormed in. They captured Mubarak, family, and posse and dragged them to the main prison square where they were all publicly executed by hanging in a clear message to anyone who dares to oppress the inmates of the RPT prison in the future.

The insinuated pitch to this blabbering: Don’t let the army finish your revolution.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

SCAF, the movie..

Last night, I watched the special episode of 'Akher Kalam' (Last Words) hosted by the broadly appointed new crackerjack of Egyptian media Yosri Fouda, interviewing two members from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). The special 3 hours and 12 minutes episode was originally scheduled for the symbolic 2 month mensiversary of SCAF taking over the responsibility of administering Egypt after the ouster of the self-proclaimed-1-bank-account-only Dictator Mubarak.

The timing of the show, made it even more special yet. It came just 2 days after the dawn attack on peaceful protesters in Tahrir square orchestrated by SCAF and executed by hundreds of military police forces, police security forces, army special forces, commandos, elite 777 squad forces, and heavy-machine-gun-equipped armored personnel carriers to capture 20 (some say 25!) unarmed men in army uniform. 

(Eyewitness accounts + videos of the attack here)

I was readying myself for a heated debate with the same SCAF members who refused to live broadcast their press conference following the recent event, and instead gave TV broadcasters a badly disfigured version of the presser apparently edited by Edward scissorhands' evil twin brother. I thought last night's show would be another one of those history-in-the-making acts, broadcasted by ONTV, following in the footsteps of the infamous 'Baladna bel Masry' (Our Egypt) episode primarily attributed to the resignation of ex-PM 'team' Ahmad Shafeeq. 

Sadly it wasn't. Not even close. It was so bad that I was actually tempted to switch channels and watch the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith (of course I didn't, nothing can be that bad!). Throughout the show, I had several nausea attacks, throwing-up false alarms, and felt the occasional need of sticking my finger in my ear trying to scratch my brain from the inside in an attempt to find logical explanations.

After the show ended, and after I managed to successfully drop down the gun I was holding to my head, I realized it was all my fault. I was expecting something that should never be expected. Other than the naivety I felt waiting to be entertained by a show interviewing 2 military men, I realized I was just asking too much of them when I thought they'd actually provide a debate, let alone a heated one! These are senior military men. They don't have the capacity to comprehend the flexibility prerequisite for such debates. A senior military commander doesn't view matters from the same prospective as a civilian. Truth of the matter, the wide range of diverse prospectives of any civil matter include areas that a military man is completely blind to. Much like the infra-red or ultra-violet range a human eye just can't detect. Their basic instincts are coated with a military cover limited by the two options of friend and foe. The weight of their crucial responsibility towards their country doesn't really give them much other options. 

To make you visualize what I'm trying to say, it's helpful to watch a clip from the movie 'A Few Good Men'. The speech given by Colonel Jessup, flawlessly played by the neurotically renowned Jack Nicholson, when he was pushed to the edge while being questioned in court by Lieutenant Kaffee, played by the talented pre-mission-impossible Tom Cruise. Here's the clip.

"You can't handle the truth", this pretty much sums it all. SCAF has always been accused of saying too little, often too late. SCAF has always been asked to be transparent and forth-telling. What I realize now is that we were actually accusing them of being real military men and asking them to be the opposite! It just can't be. Moreover, it should NOT be. Military men should stay as military men. Colonel Jessup was "god damn right" in ordering the code red, and now I can clearly see why. SCAF should not be given the responsibility of administering a transitional phase that is presumably paving the way for a democratic state.    

I am convinced that the only way out of the stalled and potentially dangerous situation we find ourselves in right now in Egypt is to hand over this administration task to a civilian figure who doesn't have the politically-limiting nature of the military. Be it through a Presidential council or by holding the Presidential elections as soon as possible, it's imperative to understand the essentiality of having a non-military entity run the post-revolution transitional period. 


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Revolution, all over again..

Two long days, crowds of few thousands, sit-in in Tahrir sq., no sleep, attacks with batons and live ammunition, setting up barracks, injuries and death; it's a Revolution all over again. 

Friday April 8 was a successful Million March in Tahrir. Echoing those staged in the period before Mubarak stepped down. Tahrir square, the epicenter of the Egyptian Revolution, was once again witness to the unity and power of the people. Hundreds of thousands clustered together in the square in a show of solidarity towards achieving the Jan25 Revolution demands. The demands they feel are being neglected by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). The people's main target was the trial of ousted Mubarak, his family, and his posse. 

The atmosphere was so familiar, filled with enthusiasm and freedom-induced ecstasy. There was this new additional feeling, though. The feeling of a worrying anticipation, at least among a few. Anticipation of some sort of action, beyond just vigorous chants, reflecting the growing feeling of dissent towards SCAF and their lackluster attitude when it comes to the trial of Mubarak and co. The moment a group of army uniformed men stepped up to the central stage, it was anticipation no more. 

Recently, there has been a somewhat marginal wave of outspoken army personnel who claimed they are holding their own revolution-like campaign to cleanse the army from corruption. A couple of facebook groups and twitter accounts were anonymously created in an attempt to draw light to their case. Days before April 8, as the calls for the Million March intensified, these anonymous online outlets declared some of them would attend the planned March in their army uniforms and reveal themselves publicly. It's worth mentioning that Ahmad Shouman, an army officer, was charged but then pardoned of defection during the early days of the Revolution. A move, I'm sure all SCAF members are regretting now.

For army men to join the march was one thing, but for them to join in their army uniforms was a completely different and foolish move. They were received with a mixture of feelings predominantly composed of alarm and confusion, but then as time passed, those feelings gradually turned into a naive patriotic sense of duty and responsibility of protecting them against a sealed fate of military trial on mutiny charges. A sit-in, that was never planned, was by then inevitable. 

Night fell, bringing with it an understandable but tense sense of anxiety to what might unfold when curfew hours start at 2am. Protesters in the square knew their numbers were little to stage such an unplanned curfew-defying sit-in. They amounted to roughly a thousand individuals only. The first sign of trouble stirred long before curfew hours started though. At about 11pm, a large group of military police started appearing at the entrances to the square. Few minutes later, a military police officer along with a group of soldiers and a jeep tried to approach the center of the square. That is where the defected army officers, about 20 of them, were being guarded inside 2 large tents. Protesters gathered around and huddled together to prevent the intruding military police soldiers from entering, chanting 'go back, go back'. That small military police batch was too small to force their way in, so they retreated.    

The army was obviously determined to capture these so called 'rogue' elements, but they needed to prepare for a snap attack to force their way in. They took their time to gather forces and started a full scale attack at around 3am. Security forces amounting in the hundreds, started the first phase of assault encircling the center of the square from all directions. Protesters formed an arm-to-arm human chain right by the border of the round central garden. Special army forces, in full gear, commenced with phase two of the attack by forcefully charging through the crowds under heavy machine gun fire. Protesters had no other way but to run in retreat, although a few brave group stayed around the tents in the middle in a last gasp attempt to prevent the capture of the defectors. 

The swift attack was successful and the special forces teared down the 2 tents and captured the defected army officers, although there were several eyewitness account of at least 6 of them escaping the clamp down. Things were in complete chaos by then. Hundreds of protesters who were scattered all over the entrances to the square, formed smaller groups and tried to venture inside the square again. Their aim was probably to recapture the central garden, or may be just to fight back. They didn't manage to achieve that though. The security forces continued with its attack and machine gun firing, chasing them down the streets. This resulted in sporadic retaliation attempts by the protesters throwing stones and molotov cocktails right back at them.

The security forces assault moved into side streets, where protesters were further scattered into fewer numbers and started taking refuge in near by building entrances and garages. These side-street battles raged for about an hour or so. It started to look dramatically chaotic and the army officers probably feared things would get out of their hands, specially with curfew hours approaching it's 5am stop. All of a sudden, they started retreating back to the square and regrouping in formations. Protesters went fast after them, in a fury of false victory. As the protesters reached the square, the army had already begun it's evacuation, although it seemed it was a bit hasty as they had abandoned a large carryall truck with a full load of barbed wire still on board. 

Other small groups of protesters started gathering back in the square, which was empty of any army presence in a matter of minutes. They took hold of the barbed wire and started erecting barracks along the eastern entrance towards the Egyptian Museum. Curfew had already ended and news of the attack had spread all over near neighborhoods as a result of the huge amount of fire power used during the army attacks. Protesters grew in numbers by the minute, and completely controlled Tahrir square, in reminisce to the very early days of the revolution.

There were several accounts of injuries that appears to be the result of beating and cuts. There were several stories of fatalities, but it none was recorded or captured on tape. Later reports according to reuters, put the numbers at 2 death from gun shot wounds and over 70 various injuries.