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. 



  1. You're right. As a non-Egyptian, I cannot understand why the army is involved with civilians. They have a specialised task in defending the nation from foreign aggression, and the like. Law & order and crowd control matters are for police, specially trained to deal with civilians. Neither should be involved in trying 'offenders'. At the end of the day they are under government regulation.
    Hope you get round to it - and stop the beatings and carrying/firing guns on the street.

  2. Your point is absolutely correct. They are the military not the government. They set their laws and they deliver on it. They are a very effective army, they were never meant to be the government.
    Feel like everyone needs to stop for a minute, take a deep breath and look at the state of things. So many people are angry and for different reasons. The army doesn't rationalize emotions, it just deals with orders. Somehow the Egyptian people must make it faster for the elections to take place and to send all requests/expectations to the new PM and his cabinet members and leave as its strongest and final resort to being heard, Tahrir.

  3. Salama Ahmed Salama said it simply and correctly on his phone comment near end of the "debate"..
    He said "I do not see a debate, d'you call this a debate!!"

    Admire your free spirited writing style

  4. Ya ragel... Do you think a civilian council can really assert control over the police, and bring them back to discipline. Can it project authority over the country and the different actors, no matter how much we hate authority... All this assuming the council will not be divided and dysfunctional...

    Also, having presidential elections is fine. But it has to be preceded by parliamentary elections, unless you think we will be able to have the first democracy that has a president without a legislature to legislate and monitor him and the executive.

    The morale: mapping the route of transition is tough. There is no good way and no bad way... What defines the outcome of transitions is the sheer momentum of the revolution, which decides the speed and direction, and sweeps along the way all obstacles. This is exactly what is happening, even if we grumble every now and then.