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Egypt Phase 3

Shashank Joshi, Royal United Services Institute, London, has a backgrounder of the role of the Egyptian military since the overthrow of the monarchy. Read it to understand the real power structure in the country.

The CBC has coverage of the brain-dead policy regarding the media in Egypt condemned for attacks on journalists.

Dr. Cole continues his informed coverage of the situation.

If anyone is interested, I think we are in Phase 3. In Phase 1, Mubarak failed to control the protests, so the military decided that the government must appear to change so the protests would end. That failed.

Phase 2 was Lt. General Omar Suleiman’s opportunity to grab the brass ring, so the military stepped back and the thugs went to work, while the media was being intimidated. The psyops department was pushing out rumors that the protesters were agents from Iran, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood, Israel, Amway, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, AOL, et al. The protesters were portrayed by the state media as the aggressors and trouble makers – the ever popular “outside agitators”. This was also a failure.

In Phase 3 it is Air Marshal Ahmad Shafiq, the new prime minister, who has been anointed by the military to lead the country out of its problems.

It won’t work. The protesters have invested too much work, blood, pain, and lost too many people to accept anything but real change. I have no great hope that the Egyptian military will give up quickly, but they are courting trouble from their lower ranking officers who know that their soldiers are getting restless about the extension of the situation.

The BBC’s crisis media crew is now in Egypt, so you can expect higher quality pictures from random locations, not the easy targets of Al Jazeera’s fixed camera positions, supplemented by cell phone cameras. Even the US media gets angry when you beat up their reporters, and will start reporting facts. The Egyptians have even attacked Fox News, so “he said, she said” is probably not a viable option.

6 comments

1 Badtux { 02.04.11 at 8:54 pm }

We’ll know the endgame has come if the Security Ministry is stormed and its files seized and/or destroyed. The secret police can’t operate without those files and authoritarian regimes cannot stay in power without their secret police. Slaughtering civilians in the streets with army troops makes for great photo-ops for brutality, but on the part of the opposition merely changes their tactics. Without secret police to arrest and “disappear” the opposition leaders after the slaughter, the opposition merely fades into the woodwork and comes out another day to play with new strategies to undermine the integrity of the army.

– Badtux the Revolutionary Penguin

2 Bryan { 02.04.11 at 9:55 pm }

The generals really need to stop screwing around, or some ambitious colonel is going to become a populist and demagogue his way to power, probably by invoking religion or socialism, are just “Becking out”. That scenario has played out all too often around the world, and is bad news for everyone.

Yes, the security apparatus is the next obvious target. There were tentative moves against the Ministry of the Interior early on, but if the “powers that be” don’t stop stalling, the people in the Square will return to that target with serious intent, and it will get very bloody, very quickly.

3 Badtux { 02.05.11 at 1:04 am }

BTW, this is the primary reason why the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have proven to be such a clusterfuck. You can’t control a country with soldiers. You can subjugate it, but where your soldiers aren’t, that’s where the enemy is — people adjust. But a real security apparatus with deep tentacles into the general population is what allows maintaining control in the absence of public consent. Stalin didn’t re-conquer the Ukraine from the UPA after WW2 with the Red Army — indeed, the Red Army was quite careful to be very noisy when traipsing through the woods in order to let UPA partisans get away, they had no desire to either shoot fellow Soviets or be shot by fellow Soviets. It took sending the NKVD in to end to UPA, with the troops only providing gruntwork to round up the leaders identified by the NKVD agents. It was to the point by the end where if three UPA partisans got together, two were probably NKVD assets…

But you don’t have that security apparatus, what you have is the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan — controlling only where your soldiers are walking, and not one stretch more. Or the end game in Iran in 1979, where the much-hated SAVAK just melted away and the Army largely stuck to its barracks after the situation got out of hand…

4 Bryan { 02.05.11 at 9:54 pm }

The SAVAK relied on computerized records [thanks to Ross Perot’s company] and the tapes were sabotaged by technical people in the rebellion. They were thoroughly infiltrated by the need to bring in technical people, rather than training their own. A serious blunder on the part of SAVAK. The bad guys lost control of their records and didn’t know it until it was too late.

The fools that invaded Afghanistan and Iraq did not have enough troops to even effectively subjugate the country, much less control it, and then they sent in incompetents who managed to alienate even people who would have normally been on their side. They armed their opposition by lacking the capabilities to secure the multiple arms dumps, and provided the command and control structure by summarily dismissing those officials who hadn’t fled, well as the military in Iraq.

The Rumsfeld concept of the Pentagon would have been out of step in a one-man parade by firing the people who knew what to do, and promoting political officers who couldn’t successfully navigate the drive-thru window at a McDonalds.

The current effort is led by people who know the right words, but don’t know what the words mean or imply. There is no point in taking land, if you have no forces ready to hold it.

5 Badtux { 02.06.11 at 11:37 pm }

More to the point, you can take land with military forces, but you can’t hold land with military forces — wherever your soldiers aren’t, that’s where the enemy is. They melt into the general population like Mao’s proverbial fish in the sea, to come out after the heels of your soldiers disappear around the next corner. It takes good old-fashioned police work to actually get rid of guerillas. That’s something that the military worshippers don’t seem to “get” — that soldiers are fine and good for killing people, but once you’ve killed the folks that need killin’, you need cops. Which is a problem, if you’re a conquerer who doesn’t speak the language, doesn’t understand the culture, and can’t trust even your interpreters to not be enemy agents…

The current “surge” in Afghanistan is inadequate just from a standpoint of military control, but it would be inadequate even if we did have the manpower (which would likely be three times what the Soviet’s final number of soldiers in Afghanistan was — the Soviets had about 104,000 soldiers in Afghanistan at the peak). It would be inadequate because the entire concept of our involvement in Afghanistan is fatally flawed and inadequate. If you have a bomb and an artillery shell, everything looks like it needs to be a crater. Well, that’s fine and dandy if you’re taking out an entrenched enemy soldier, but useless when you’re trying to take out a guerilla who has melted back into the general population.

6 Bryan { 02.07.11 at 9:59 pm }

That’s why the military had “Civil Affairs” specialties, the guys trained to help people transition to self-government, the guys who replaced the combat troops in Germany and Japan after World War II. I say had, because this clown named Rumsfeld didn’t think the military should do anything other than kill people, so he pushed all of those specialties off to the Reserves and the National Guard.

Hell, there are barely enough military police left on active duty to cover existing facilities, which is why the gates are now guarded by “rent-a-cops”, not MPs. He would have gotten rid of them all if it wasn’t for the problem of jurisdiction, i.e. no one else has police powers on military facilities.

Terrorism is a police problem and always has been. You can’t conduct an investigation or follow-up leads from a cockpit or tank turret. You have to get out on the streets and talk to people, in their own languages. There was plenty of time before the invasion of Iraq to run people through the Arabic, Farsi, or Pashtun courses at DLI, but Rumsfeld wouldn’t do it.

You cannot successfully interview anyone through an interpreter. You need trained linguist/interrogators, and there was more than enough time to train them, but the Hedgemony wouldn’t do it.

The morons in charge are constantly looking for the “magic bullet” that is going to make the job quick, easy, and cheap. Well, there isn’t one, because people don’t work that way. Profiling generally only works after the fact. Once someone is in custody all of these clowns come up with “proof” that the person matches their profile, without mentioning that so do thousands of innocent people, making it worthless.

The level of awareness is so low in this country that the Village still doesn’t understand that the only thing the people in Tahrir Square really have in common is the desire to get rid of Mubarak. You have a cross section of Egyptian society with that one common goal, and they don’t seem to be ready to accept anything else.

You can have meetings with “opposition groups”, but the protesters in the Square are not represented by any of those groups. These people aren’t there in support of any group except Egyptians, be they Muslims, Christians, Jews, or secular. Until the “powers that be” figure out that Mubarak is the roadblock to a return to “normalcy”, and get him on an outbound aircraft, the protests are likely to continue.