Egypt’s independence from British occupation, which officially began in 1882, went through two main phases. The first was the period after the 1919 revolution, leading the British government to announce Egypt’s independence in 1922 while highlighting four principles, the most important of which was the end of the British protectorate over Egypt and the recognition of it as an independent state. But this independence was incomplete due to the lack of support for these principles. The second phase of independence was in 1954 after the signing of the Anglo-Egyptian treaty, an agreement that evacuated British troops from Egypt.
And yet despite the declared independence of Egypt, the reality was that it was only figuratively independent, as the political and economic dependency on the West continued, especially in regards to the US. This dependency clearly emerged during the reign of former President Anwar Sadat, who announced that the US controlled 99 per cent of the cards in the Middle East.
Moreover, Sadat led a strategic shift towards allying with Washington after the October war, a process completed by former President Hosni Mubarak, who turned Egypt into a country that basically follows the US administration and Israel. After the January revolution, hopes for achieving actual independence for Egypt increased, especially with the appointment of the first civilian president freely elected by the people, Mohamed Morsi, who tried to build an independent foreign policy by diversifying Egypt’s international relations with countries such as Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa.
Furthermore, President Morsi secured a promise to be added as a member of the BRICS association, which consists of countries emerging in the international system. He also reduced Washington’s influence in the Arab-Israeli conflict by using the war waged by Tel Aviv against the Palestinian resistance at the end of 2012 to deal a heavy blow to the Israeli military and neutralise America’s influence over the course of events.
However, the military establishment, which had controlled the government for over sixty years and contributed to the American and Israeli dominance over Egypt, tried to undermine the efforts of the president and prevented him from achieving full independence for Egypt. This was done through a military coup that completely removed Egypt’s first elected president from political life and led to a security operation against the Egyptian people who elected Morsi, resulting in the death and injury of thousands, as well as the arrest of tens of thousands.
The military did not stop at this, because it also restored Egypt to its pre-January Revolution state by intensifying its security and intelligence cooperation with Washington and Tel Aviv. It even reached the point where the Egyptian government started contracting an Israeli propaganda company to promote the coup in the West. This was followed by the disastrous discovery that the coup government has made a deal with a company controlled by former officers from the Israeli army to take over the protection of the Suez Canal; the same canal that thousands of Egyptians sacrificed their blood for to return it to their country after it was occupied by Israel when the Egyptian army was preoccupied with internal political matters following the 1952 coup.
The army has once again repeated the same mistake by immersing itself in political affairs and leaving the issues of defence and national security to be violated by the enemies of Egypt, led by Israel, but with a slight change in the rules of the game; instead of occupying parts of Egypt, they are offering it to the Israeli enemy and even paying the Israeli army officers’ salaries.
The Egyptian people are today waging a battle against not only the army’s control of the political arena, aiming to distance the army from politics and push it to focus on issues of defence and national security, but also foreign occupation, aiming to achieve the true and uncompromised independence of Egypt.
The author is an Egyptian writer. This is a translation of the Arabic text published by Al-Sharq Newspaper on 8 November, 2013
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.