DEYAN RANKO BRASHICH was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and is an Op-Ed columnist for Connecticut's Litchfield County Times.  He writes the monthly Letter From America column for Romania’s Scrisul Romanesc, a literary magazine and is the Editor-at-Large for  The Country and Abroad, another literary/art magazine where he authors the Dispatch from Abroad column. He is a frequent contributor to Pecat, the Belgrade, Serbia weekly news magazine, Britić, a magazine published in the United Kingdom, Ekurd Daily, a multinational Kurdish news portal and Passport, a lifestyle quarterly. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.

 

 

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Thursday
Feb212019

EGYPT - I TOLD YOU SO, BUT YOU WOULDN’T LISTEN

 

I was bushwhacked by family last week. They asked that I write a piece on the Egypt/Yemen/Somalia/Saudi Arabia's intertwined wars and genocides that has the Middle East and millions at death’s door. When I said no - saying “been there, done that” - they demanded I do it anyway for they forgot.             

I just read that Egypt’s Parliament will “allow President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi to extend his rule until 2034”, that’s another 16 years. Now el-Sisi is a “great guy”, or so says Donald Trump, but are Egyptians willing to have a dictator rule their lives for decades, for life? “You betcha”, seems to be the answer.

Egypt is perhaps the world’s oldest civilization and the oldest country still in existence. It well deserves nomination for “cradle of civilization”. Egyptians were once number one on the international innovation index. Yet over time the Egyptians’ intellect atrophied and spiraled into collective stupidity, helped along by foreign intervention, first by the Romans, then the Arabs, then the British, French, Russians and Americans. They invented the maxim that those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. So, for my Egyptian friends, and my family, I republish an article from The Litchfield County Times of July 11, 2013, all the while grumbling “I told you so”.  

THREE FAILED REVOLUTIONS HAVE DUPED EGYPTIANS 

I am hyper-sensitive when it comes to name calling and ethnic slurs, just look at my name. I bristle when people are derided as dumb Polacks, greedy Jews, smelly Pakis, stupid beaners, camel jockeys, frogs and gooks. There are many more but there is no reason to list them all.

When it comes to ethnic slurs, the one that I do not condemn is the universal slight of “stupid”. As Joe Biden sagely noted “Americans have the right to be stupid”. But any number of countries and people deserve that distinction. Today its Egypt turn after three, and counting, failed revolutions.

Egyptians have just earned the Olympic Gold Medal for Stupidity, all 84 million of them. They deserve whatever the future holds for them, for they have surely screwed themselves royally even though most of them do not remember or were alive when King Farouk was sacked in 1952. They have exhibited ignorance and stupidity. I don’t care what their IQ and SAT scores are, or those other indices of intelligence we use to judge others. They are just plain dumb.

Three years ago, Egyptians were jubilantly dancing in the streets in Tahrir Square having forced the doddering 82-year-old tyrant Hosni Mubarak from office, leaving in place all those who enabled him to hold power for so long, including the military. What a hollow victory, what a wasted effort, what a failed revolution.

Power was wrested from the hands of an American backed and financed dictator of 30 years but left it in the hands of Egypt’s military and his collaborators and enablers. After enduring years of repression, torture and corruption, first under Anwar Sadat and then Mubarak, Egyptians took to the streets for three weeks of protest and a relatively peaceful revolution, even though a number of “martyr” deaths and casualties have been reported. What did this ruckus, this wasted effort, these sacrifices achieve? Nothing, nada.

The reins of power were seized by the “Vice President” Omar Suleiman. That office did not exist for 30 years and was specially created for a man who was the Chief of Mubarak’s General Intelligence Directorate, “intelligence” as in secret jails, murder and torture. Change what change?

When that didn’t work, the “Supreme Council of the Armed Forces” lead by Mubarak’s Defense Minister Mohamed Tantawi took over and ruled by brute force of arms. Within days the military dissolved Parliament and suspended the Constitution. Democracy what democracy? No, just another autocratic repressive regime put in place.

A constitutional referendum in March, 2011, parliamentary elections in November and the election of President Mohamed Morsi in June, 2012 were the run ups to the second revolution. The resulting cabinet was controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, once an outlawed die hard fundamentalist religious party legitimized by the first revolution. Liberal and secular legislators walked out and boycotted the Constituent Assembly fearing, rightfully so, that Morsi and the Brotherhood would impose Islamic law and curtail human rights. Morsi protecting the rule of Islam and the Salafists issued fiats and decrees immunizing these radical changes from challenge.

The second revolution was in full bloom by December, 2012 with thousands clashing in the streets, some supporting Morsi and others violently demanding change.

The second revolution continued off and on for months. Depending on the news cycle and what else was happening in the world, say protests in Turkey and Brazil. We were sporadically made aware that it was ongoing but little more.

This second revolution failed to resolve the conflict. The economy, 40% controlled and owned by the military, was in shambles and bankrupt. A $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund bailout to prop up a country beset by fuel and food shortages was at stake. Tourism, the mainstay of the economy, had died. The Egyptian military was not about to see its financial assets wiped out, rendered worthless.

With the second revolution still roiling the streets, the Egyptian military using the pretext of civil unrest and sectarian violence executed a lightning coup d’état on July 3, 2013 removing and jailing Morsi, issuing warrants for the arrest of hundreds of Brotherhood leaders, shutting down Brotherhood television stations, all the while promising the world a swift return to democratic rule.

The Generals will not forget that it was an assassination attempt by the Brotherhood that led to Abdel Nasser’s Presidency and their prosperity. Nor will they forget that Anwar Sadat, another General who became President, was assassinated by religious extremists.

Today the Generals are set to have Samir Radwan, Mubarak’s former Finance Minister, sworn in as interim President. The military will continue to rule, with figurehead civilian puppets nominally in charge, propped up with $1.9 billion in US support yearly.  

The French will tell you “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”, or in this case the Egyptians. Just when I thought they couldn’t be any dumber, they go and do something like this. “My Egyptians are kinda stupid…The country is that way” to paraphrase Dum and Dumber, the movie, remember? Throwing out one dictatorship in exchange for another without change in sight, what a bunch of dupes.

 

 

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