Egypt – Two Revolutions in Two Years

Egypt1Egypt, the land of the pyramids and the Pharaohs is still making history to this day as its people revolted against tyrants twice in the matter of two years. The first revolution, the 25th of January, was a revolution against the tyranny and the dictatorship of the regime of Mohammed Hosni Mubarak while the 30th of June Revolution was against the religious fascism of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt became the center of attention of international media on the 25th of January and following the ousting of former president Mohammed Hosni Mubarak on the 11th of February of 2011, it started to gradually get out of the international spotlight. It entered it once again on the 30th of June with the massive protests that was demanding the ouster of Mohammed Morsi. Due to the fact that Egypt was no longer the focus of international media, many people think through that the first year of the reign of Mohammed Morsi, everything was stable and peaceful. On the contrary, the country was boiling with protests every month against the fascist regime, especially after the constitutional declaration that he announced. All of which lead to the massive marches and protest of the 30th of June of 2013.

The Main Reasons behind the 30th of June Revolution

  • The Constitution Declaration of the 22nd of November of 2012. In this declaration, the president gave his decisions and actions immunity and declared that all of his decisions are above the law and that even the Supreme Court cannot challenge or revise any of these decisions. He also removed the prosecutor general Abdel Maguid Mahmoud and appointed another, whose loyalty lies with the Brotherhood.
  • Not fulfilling the demands of the 25th of January revolution. All what was done is that the old dictatorship was replaced by a Religious Fascist Regime. All who opposed the regime were labeled as infidels or enemies of Islam.
  • The nourishment of terrorism in Sinai as Morsi has stopped the Army from pursuing the terrorists in Sinai. Not only that, as he has released many of the terrorists who have the blood of Egyptians on their hands by giving them a presidential pardon.  This includes Abbud El Zummur, who is an Islamist and a fundamentalist who was captured for participating in the assassination of President Anwar El Sadat. The pardons also included Assem Abdul Majid who is responsible for the death of more than 70 police officers in Assuit. All of this showed how the regime supports terrorism.
  • The Exclusion of other political parties when forming the government as they sought the controlling of every aspect of the political life in Egypt.
  • The approval of smuggling petrol, gas and goods to Hammas in Gaza through the tunnels. This was made clear as Morsi stopped the army from locating and destroying these tunnels. This actually caused a disastrous gas problem in Egypt where people, including myself, had to stay in long lines at the gas station, for over nine hours to fill up the tank.

The Chain of Events Starting from the 30th of June

The One Week Ultimatum:

One Week before the 30th of June, Abdel Fattah El Sisi gave everyone a 1-week Ultimatum to work out their differences because with the way things are going, the country is going to go over the edge, and said that the army will never let that happen.

The 30th of June Protest and the 48-Hours Ultimatum:

The protests actually started on the 28th of January and reached its peak on the 30th of June. On the 1st of July, General Abdel Fattah El Sisi stated that due to the large numbers of people in the street, they should deserve a response and an answer to their demands. He gave the government 48 hours to address the needs of the people and to work on a way to resolve this problem. The Brotherhood ignored what he said and they asked him to withdraw the ultimatum and they did nothing to help resolve the situation. Instead, Mohamed Morsi made a speech, which is known as the “Legitimacy” speech, where he spent over an hour talking about his Legitimacy and how he will finish his 4 years of ruling and that he is prepared to offer his blood so save the Legitimacy.

The Ouster of Morsi:

On the 3rd of July of 2013, when the ultimatum period ran out, the General, accompanied by people who represented the different factions of the Egyptian people including the Sheikh of El Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayeb, The Pope of the Christian Orthodox Church, Tawadros, Tamarod members, The leader of El Nour Party, El Baradei and other big names in the political scene made an announcement. This announcement removed Morsi from Office and gave the power to Adly Mansour, the head of the Egyptian Supreme Court.

Raba’a and Nahda Sit Ins:

For almost a week before the massive protests of the 30th of June, the Brotherhood had two major sit ins in Raba’a and Nahda.  These sit-ins were not in any way peaceful as they basically invaded that area, frisking the residents and their cars every time they go or out of the area. Dead and tortured bodies were found around the sit-ins.

The government with the help of EU representatives as well as USA delegates, tried to resolve the problem in a peaceful way because the government will not allow these sit-ins to remain. During the sit-ins, two incidents took place. The first one, the people from Raba’a decided to go break in the National Guard Headquarters because their leaders stated that Morsi is in there, and they went to free him. This resulted in more than 40 dead from the Brotherhood and 2 military officers. The second one is when they tried to go cut off a nearby bridge and set up camp on it and the authorities did not let them do that which resulted in deadly clashes that resulted in more than 60 dead and more than 5 police officers were killed.

The Protests of the 26th of July:

Abdel El Fattah El Sisi asked the people to hit the streets once again on the 26th of July in order to commission him to fight any potential terrorism, and the people gave him what he wanted as millions of Egyptians hit the streets on that day.

The Dispersing of the Sit-Ins:

The ministry of interior has warned the people in the sit-ins that they will have to disband it because it is illegal to take over the streets and stop traffic plus the violations against the residents of the area. After all talks have failed, the government stated that it would disperse the sit-ins. On the 14th of August, the police forces have dispersed the sit-ins in a process that took almost fifteen hours.

Following the dispersing of the sit-ins, the armed individuals either fought the police forces or escaped and started to spread chaos in all of Egypt, using their automatic guns to shoot people randomly in the streets trying to mimic the Syrian Scenario. The police dealt with them and after two days, the president declared a state of emergency that will last for one month and implemented a curfew from 7 Pm to 6 Am.

In Upper Egypt, the Muslim brotherhood and other Jihad organizations burnt well over fifty Christian churches, Coptic shops and burnt Coptic houses, in which they called, a justified reaction to what happened.

The Violence in Sinai:

The terrorism in Sinai was being handled by the army. Over 75 people were killed since the 30th of June including 25 soldiers who were executed at the side of the road while they were heading back home after finishing their time in the army. One of the Muslim Brotherhood Leaders, Mohamed El Beltagy has stated that the violence in Sinai will immediately stop after Abdel Fattah El Sisi reinstates Morsi and the parliament once again and apologizes for his coup. This made it clear that the violence and the terrorism in Sinai is supported and blessed by the Muslim Brotherhood, no matter how much they try to deny it.

As a result all of this, there are many questions that are asked by millions of people from around the world, and especially the USA. For example, what is the relationship between the USA and Egypt? Why does America give Egypt $1.3 billion every year? Can the USA cancel it? As well as other questions such as “Is it a Coup or a revolution and why do people call the 25th of January a Revolution while the 30th of June a Coup? Before answering these questions, it is important to know more about the key players in Egypt.

Who is Who?

Mohammed El Baradei:

Mohammed Mustafa El Baradei is a law scholar and a diplomat. He was IAEA’s Director General (International Atomic Energy Agency) during the years between 1997 and 2009. He was the winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2005. Prior to the 25th of January revolution, he joined hands with the Muslim Brotherhood to collect signatures in order to oust Hosni Mubarak and he was one of the makers of the 25th of January Revolution and led the people in the front lines.

After the success of the revolution and after the Muslim Brotherhood became in power, they quickly turned against him accusing him for being a sleeper agent and a spy for Israel and the USA and refused to give him any positions within the government, despite their coalition prior to the revolution.  This is mainly because El Baradei is a supporter of the establishment of a Liberal and a Secular state while the Muslim Brotherhood wants to establish an extremist Islamic state.

Following the 30th of June, which he was also a big part of, he was supported by the youth who wanted him to have a place in the government. He was appointed the Vice President of Egypt from the 14th of July until he resigned on the 14th of August of 2013.

Abdel Fattah El Sisi:

His full name is Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil El Sisi, he is commonly known as General El Sisi. He is an Egyptian General who has been at the head of the Egyptian Armed forces as the Minister of Defense since the 12th of August. He was appointed by former president Mohammed Morsi after the removal of the former Minister of Defense, Mohammed Hussien Tantawy.

He is one of the most loved leaders in the Egyptian Armed Forces and even amongst the lower ranks. He is known for being a religious man, which is most likely to be the reason behind being chosen by Mohammed Morsi. He has stayed out of the political scene since his appointment but once the political scene in Egypt started to give signs of a civil war between the people and the Muslim Brotherhood because the Muslim Brotherhood followed the policy of ignoring any demands or protests, he started to appear in the political scene.

He is believed to be the savior of Egypt among the majority of the Egyptian people because he was the one who was able to uproot the Muslim Brotherhood and stopped them from leading the country over the edge. Despite all of that, he has announced that he will not run for president as he is a military man and he wants to serve his country from his position. Following the ouster of Mohammed Morsi, he was named as the First Deputy Prime Minister as well as being the Minister of Defense.

The Muslim Brotherhood:

The Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamic Political Organization that was founded in 1928 in Egypt by an Islamic scholar called Hassan El Banna. By the end of the second world War, it is believed that the Muslim Brotherhood had nearly 2 million members around the world. Its extremist ideas quickly gained it traction among the Arab World and it became an international organization. The stated goal of the Muslim Brotherhood is to instill the Sunnah and the Quran and the Sharia in the world. The Muslim Brotherhood exists in many countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Syria, Turkey (the ruling regime), and of course, in Palestine (Hammas). It is a secret organization that does not have any legal stance. The only way to join it is to be recruited.

The Muslim Brotherhood is known for its engagement in political violence officially or through other factions that belong to it. For example, they have assassinated many of their political opponents such as Mahmoud an-Nukrashi Pasha and the intellectual writer and thinker, Farag Foda. Many extremist terrorist factions have emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood such as the “Takfeer and Hegra” movement, which is located in Sinai, Al Jihad movement and others. These terrorist groups have committed plenty of crimes including the assassination of Anwar El Sadat, the President of Egypt with the blessing of the Muslim Brotherhood because they were political rivals.

Despite their allegations that they were prosecuted during the reign of Mubarak, it is not entirely true. They made deals with the regime and they participated in the political life. They were also free to conduct their business empire, led by Islam El Shater, who runs a multimillion dollar business. That is the thing about the Muslim Brotherhood, they can adapt and cope with any regime in power in order to make deals and get the best out of it.

Here are some of the big names in the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt:

Mohammed Morsi: He is the former Egyptian president. He is also the chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, Freedom and Justice. While many may think that he is a powerful man in the Brotherhood because he was the president, it is not true. He was just a pawn and a front for the Muslim Brotherhood. A great indication of that is all of the decisions and announcements that were made were dictated to him since all of his assistants and the vice presidents did not know anything about them.

Khairat El Shater: He is a key player in the Brotherhood; he is believed to be the mastermind and one of the real leaders of the Brotherhood. This is why he was the initial candidate that was chosen by the Freedom and Justice Party and the Brotherhood during the Egyptian presidential Elections of 2012. He was disqualified by the commission of the election due to his prior convictions. This is why he was replaced by Mohammed Morsi. He is also the deputy chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Mohammed Badei:  He is the supreme guide of the Brotherhood. He has been the head of the Egyptian Branch of the Muslim Brotherhood for 3 years, since 2010. Before being declared as the Supreme Guide, he was one of the members of the governing council of the group which is called the Guidance Bureau. Following the disbanding of the sit-ins, he was arrested by the authorities on the 20th of August in 2013. According to reports and rumors, Mahmoud Ezzat is his successor due to his inability to perform his duties.

El Nour Party:

El Nour Party is a political party that is founded by Muslim Salafis. They have always been supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, despite having some ideological differences but the main goal, the establishment of an Islamic state, was the common goal that brought them together.

The Muslim Brotherhood has always used this fact to exploit El Nour Party, especially when they needed to make a large protest. They always asked for the support of the Salafis and the Nour Party by dangling the words Sharia and Islam in front of them. This is the main reason behind the support of El Nour Party to Abdel Fattah El Sisi as it was one of the factions present during the announcement that ousted the president.

Following the disbanding of the sit-ins, El Nour Party refused to participate in the new government but afterwards, it said that it will participate in making the amendments to the constitution. This is why the position of El Nour Party is not yet clear.

The Rebellion “Tamarod” Movement:

The Tamarod Movement, which translates to Rebellion, is a grassroots Egyptian movement that was founded in order to gather as many signatures as possible in order to force Mohamed Morsi to call for early elections. It aimed to collect fifteen million signatures by the 30th of June of 2013 and called for massive marches and protests on that day. The idea was simple, a piece of paper that requires a signature and a Social Security number, the piece of paper declares that the person who signed it refuses Mohamed Morsi and wants him to call for early elections. The idea spread like wildfire across the nation and people started printing the paper and spreading them amongst their friends before giving them to the central command of Tamarod.  All of the liberal and secular political parties supported it and they used their offices and their employees to help spread the word. Before the 30th of June, Tamarod has announced that it has succeeded in collecting over 20 million signatures and it called for the masses who signed the papers to hit the streets on the 30th of June and not leave until the president is ousted, and they did.

Now, to answer some of the important questions that were mentioned above:

Q: What is the Relationship between the United States of America and Egypt?

A: Egypt has been one of the main allies for the United States in the Middle East since the signing of the Camp David Peace Treaty in 1979 between Egypt and Israel. This deal signaled a break from the past policy of Egypt which aligned it with the Soviet Union and engaging a hostile stance against Israel which resulted in three wars before the treaty, they were ended by the 1973 war when Egypt reclaimed Sinai. This treaty assured the USA that peace will be kept in the region and that Israel does not have to worry about any military operations against it from Egypt’s side.

Following 9-11, the U.S and Egypt continued to have really close ties as Egypt condemned the violence and it helped the USA in its pursuits to find those who are responsible during the Extraordinary Rendition program of the CIA. Following the revolution of 2011 in Egypt, the USA threw Mubarak under the bus as a new power was rising and it supported the new regime that was led by the Muslim Brotherhood. It is a known fact that it is in the advantage of Israel and the USA to have close ties with whatever regime that is ruling Egypt to guarantee the safety of Israel and their access to the Suez Canal.

Q: Why Does the USA give Egypt $1.3 Billion in Military aid Every Year?

A: Since 1979, according to the terms of the Camp David treaty, the USA gives Egypt a total of 1.3 billion dollars in military aid. This aid has contributed greatly in making the Egyptian Armed forces one of the strongest armies in the region, and the strongest one in Africa, though; the Armed forces of Egypt have stayed out of armed conflicts since the treaty in 1979. This aid does not only benefit Egypt’s armed forces as it protects the number one ally for the USA in the region, Israel. It also gives it access to the Suez Canal as well as money for the weapons companies in the USA.

Q: Can the USA simply cut off the Aid?

A: Although the USA has waived cutting the Aid and threatened to do it numerous times before, it is not that simple. This is because the military aid is one of the conditions and terms of the Camp David peace treaty. Therefore, if the USA cuts off the Aid, the treaty will be cancelled which could jeopardize the peace of Israel. This is why the USA has not cut off the aid yet, despite the fact that they consider the 30th of June a military coup and the government of the USA does not give military aids to armies that conduct military coups.

Q: Is cutting the Aid really effective?

A: So far, it seems that it is not because the USA has threatened many times to cut it off and it is either the Egyptian Army is calling their bluff or it just does not care, especially with the aids that were given by Arab countries such as The United Arab of Emirates , Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The aids from these countries reached a combined total of $12 billion.

Q: Is it true that the 30th of June is a Military Coup?

A: The answer to this question can be explained by comparing what happened in 2011 and 2013. In the 25th of January, the entire world, including the USA and the EU acknowledged that it is a revolution. In 2011, the president did not step down personally; in fact, he denied any knowledge about the letter that was read by Omar Soliman on the 11th of February of 2011. After he was forced to step down, the SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) were in charge of the country, the formation of the transitional government and keeping the peace (because of the retreat of the Police on the 28th of January). So in fact, the Army took control over the country and stayed in charge for more than one year, despite the fact that the transitional period was supposed to be a mere 6 months.

On the other hand, the revolution of 2013, the army did not take over and the head of the Supreme Court, Adly Mahmoud Mansour, was appointed as the president of the transitional government and was in charge of selecting and forming the interim government.  Plus, the announcement that was made by Abdel Fattah El Sisi was made after a meeting that included Sheikh of El Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayeb, The Pope of the Christian Orthodox Church, Tawadros, Tamarod members, The leader of El Nour Party, El Baradei and other big names in the political scene.

So if the 25th of January is a revolution, despite the fact that the army took over following the revolution, then the 30th of June, where the army did not take over power, is a revolution and in no way can it be considered a military coup.

Q: Did the Authorities Use Excessive Force against the Brotherhood’s Sit-ins?

A: When you see reports saying that a total of 600-700 people were killed and over 2000 injured, you will say that this is the definition of excessive force. What the reports fail to mention is that during the disbanding of the sit-ins, not more than 70 were killed during the process, the rest of the number were killed all over Egypt due to the violence that was initiated by the Brotherhood. The number also includes the death of innocent people who were defending their homes and their streets from the armed offences of the Brotherhood members who escaped from the sit-ins over the course of one week. So this death toll is not all in one day, they are not all Brotherhood members or supporters and they were certainly not peaceful sit ins or protests.

Of course, all of the people who were killed were not armed, but the armed personals took cover among the unarmed people who had no problem helping them and covering them, and sometimes, even giving them pointers on where to shoot. Of course, it is a tragedy, but it would have happened in any country if hundreds of armed people were roaming the streets and spreading chaos.

They also fail to mention that the sit-ins were heavily armed with automatic guns, which explains the death toll in the police forces that amounted up to 100 martyrs throughout the same week. So when 100 trained and heavily armed police personals are shot and killed, then this was in no way a peaceful protest or a peaceful sit in. I have seen it with my own eyes when armed personals were shooting their automatic guns randomly in a street near my house and before the police forces arrived, the people only had rocks and homemade Molotov cocktails to defend themselves.

My Experience Living Through Two Revolutions

The country has been unstable for more than two years, which is only normal seeing that it has gone through a lot during these 2 years. I did not go to El Tahrir Square on the 25th of January but I joined protests and marches near my home on the 28th of January. This was mainly because most people, including me, were forced to defend their homes after the retreat of the Police and after the army stated that everyone should protect himself until the army can relocate its troops to secure the country. On the 30th of June, and the following protest and marches, I was in every one of them. The country’s economic situation has been deteriorating drastically, especially during the reign of the Brotherhood. Of course, it is not yet stable and the economic situation is not any better, but it is a small price to pay for freedom and justice, and hoping that the country is finally on the right path.

Ehab M W is an Egyptian writer for ADI News.  Find out more about his story and what he is trying to accomplish at http://www.gofundme.com/helptruelove