July 4, 2013


How the Egyptian Opposition Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Its New Military Overlords (Evan Hill, July 3, 2013, Foreign Policy)

The about-face in the military's reputation on the street was stunning. During the 2011 uprising against Mubarak, the lone military helicopter in near-constant rotation over the square was jeered. Protesters on the ground angrily waved the soles of their shoes in the air, while those who had taken up residence on surrounding rooftops ducked out of sight behind satellite dishes. They watched in anger as soldiers stationed around the city allowed opposing crowds to collide in the massive street fight known as the Camel Battle. Behind the hopeful chants of "the people and the army are one hand" were fear and a strong suspicion that the military never had any of the revolution's interests in mind.

In recent days, the whiplash shift in sentiment left many committed leftists and progressives stunned and worried. Posters of Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a general elevated by Morsy who had once defended the military's "virginity tests" on female protesters arrested in Tahrir Square, began appearing around Cairo. They were pasted to the back of cars, taped on the walls of fast-food restaurants, and hoisted by protesters in Tahrir Square. Marchers chanted "come down, Sisi," encouraging the military chief to oust the Brotherhood. When the critical moment came on Wednesday night, it was Sisi who took the podium first, backed by four flags of the Egyptian armed forces, to tell the nation that the military had brought down the government.

In the days leading up to the announcement, protesters offered various explanations for the military's return to politics, but none suggested it was unwelcome. A crowd of a few hundred camped outside the Defense Ministry were ecstatic at Sisi's 48-hour deadline, marching in long loops around the boulevard outside the barbed wire with low-ranking officers leading chants against the Brotherhood. Elsewhere, those who had protested against the military during the bloody 18 months of post-uprising rule, when it led the country as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), said they hoped the generals would do a better job this time.

Posted by at July 4, 2013 7:45 AM

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