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Poor Egyptians and Billionaire Generals

By Syed Zubair Ahmad


Protesters, who are against former President Mohamed Mursi, shout slogans during a rally at Tahrir square in Cairo July 5, 2013. Islamist allies of ousted president Mursi, called on people to protest on Friday to express outrage at his overthrow by the army and to reject a planned interim government backed by their liberal opponents. Also seen is a poster of Army Chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Israeli military analyst Roni Daniel revealed a few days ago that the Egyptian General Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi had informed Israel of his efforts to remove President Mohamed Morsi three days before the coup. Speaking to the Israeli TV channel 2, Daniel said that Al-Sisi asked Israel to monitor the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. Roni Daniel further said that Al-Sisi was afraid of Hamas, but his fear faded after the Israeli assurance that everything in Gaza has been under strict surveillance. Israel advised Al-Sisi to destroy the tunnels connecting Gaza with Egypt. Following the Israeli advice the Egyptian army started damaging the tunnels several days before the coup took place. The tunnels are the main lifeline for Gaza residents who have been living in Israeli, internationally backed siege since 2006.

The generals did a step-by-step plan for getting rid of Brotherhood- led government which was hostile to Israel and which became an obstacle in the way of businessmen generals.

To create an artificial economic crisis in the country, the Egyptian Armed Forces had stopped the supply of petrol to public at petrol stations, they also stopped supply of cooking gas a few weeks before toppling the Morsi and his government apparently to instigate people to revolt against Morsi and consequently within 24 hrs of the military coup queues outside petrol stations that stretched for miles a week ago disappeared and cooking gas was abundant in supply. Everything became normal, everything became easier overnight once Morsi and his government was toppled. Everything was preplanned and each move was well calculated by the Egyptian military to get rid of Morsi who became a threat for their luxurious life and business interest.

The question is why the Egyptian generals ousted the first democratically elected government when there was no issue to oppose Morsi.

The simple answer is the Egyptian Army is a state within state. The army generals are big businessmen. They enjoy a very luxurious life style. They can’t tolerate any government hostile to Israel so that the billion dollar US aid to them does not get stopped. They will not accept any government who would come in way to their business interest. Above all, their proximity with Israel is also an open secret. Morsi was not soft to Israel, rather he was issuing strong statements against Israel.

The Egyptian army is its own kind in the world, which controls about 40% of the Egyptian economy including gas and petrol industries.

The army generals are heads of over 16 enormous factories that manufacture not just weapons, but lots of domestic products from dishwashers to heaters, clothing, doors, stationary pharmaceutical products, and microscopes. Most of these products are sold to military personnel as well as civilians. And upon retiring, top military officers are often rewarded with plum positions running everything from factories and industries to charities. Whatever the number, Robert Springborg, who has written extensively on Egypt, says officers in the Egyptian military are making “billions and billions and billions” of dollars.

The military generals build highways, housing developments, hotels, power lines, sewers, bridges, schools, telephone exchanges, often in murky arrangements with civilian companies. The military are also Egypt’s largest farmers, running a vast network of dairy farms, milk processing facilities, cattle feed lots, poultry farms, fish farms.

But there’s no way to know how efficient or inefficient the military are, nor how much money their vast enterprises make, nor how many millions or billions get skimmed off since the military’s operations are off the nation’s books. No real published accountings. No omission. Even Mohammed Morsi was obliged to agree to the military’s demand that there be no civilian oversight of the military budget.

Wiki Leaks in its cable released says ‘The military would almost certainly go along with a successor, the cable’s author wrote, as long as that successor didn’t interfere in the military’s business arrangements.’

The Egyptian army is one of the highest paid armies with more than 500,000 personnel but its efficiency and performance had been experienced in its war with Israel in past.

When Israel was about to attack on Egypt on June 5, 1967, that night Egyptian commander-in-chief ordered the whole air force to celebrate (for what? …). Liquors flowed for the whole night at airports and offices of air force. This happened despite the fact that information of likely Israeli attack was received (it has been confirmed by more than one well-established source that Egyptian top officials had the information of Israeli attacks) and thus when Israeli jet fighters did attack, the majority of Egyptian air force pilots were caught inebriant or in deep sleep. Some others were taking breakfast or bathing.

It is noticeable here that the Egyptian commander had a Jewish mistress who was a CIA agent.

Although it’s called the six-day war but in fact the war lasted less than six hours. Within a few hours all the air defense system of Egypt was completely destroyed and not a single fighter plane of Egyptian army was able to take off. On June 5, 1967 Israel preemptively attacked Egypt and Syria, destroying their air forces on the ground within a few hours. Jordan joined in the fighting belatedly, and consequently was attacked by Israel as well. The Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian armies were decisively defeated, and Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria.

Egypt and Israel are the most prominent US allies in the middle east. The Egypt had signed a peace treaty with Israel on 26 March 1979 making Egypt the first Arab state to officially recognize Israel. The most genuine question is ‘If the ‘Mighty Egyptian Army’ have a peace treaty with its foe-turned-friend Israel then what is the use of its 500000+1000000 strong army?

Since the Egyptian Military controls 40% of Egyptian economy then it is directly responsible to the terrible economic condition of Egyptian masses. Nearly half of all Egyptians live under or just above the poverty line, which the World Bank sets as two dollars a day. The army generals gave 11 years to Anwar Sadaat and 30 years to Mubarak because they didn’t interfere in the business interests of generals but the same generals didn’t give Morsi even one year because Morsi became a hurdle to their business empire.

While the Egyptian masses are at their receiving ends the generals are expanding their business empire uninterruptedly with their proximity with US and Israel.

After suffering mercilessly for more than 30 years under the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptians had got their first people’s government and president but after the military coup they are again back to square one while the corrupt military is again back in power to enjoy all kinds of power and run a state within state.



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