The defence minister and a number of army officials carried out a military coup on July 3, 2013 against the legitimate government of Egypt that came into office by means of free and fair elections that reflected the people's will. The coup leaders captured the legitimate and elected civilian president and hid him away; suspended the Constitution passed by referendum and approved by 64 per cent of the people; and dissolved the elected Shura Council. They then appointed an interim president and gave him legislative and executive power and even announced a map for the future based on his will alone. Then a provisional constitution was put in place of the original constitution that was chosen by the people. The defence minister's excuse for all of this was that he did it in response to the people's will as manifested in the protest of June 30, 2013.
The truth is that he did this for other reasons that we will list later, after we have proved that the masses who protested on June 30, 2013 wanted nothing more than early presidential elections, and they did not ask for anything else that the coup-organisers actually did. Moreover, the leaks that were published and attributed to the coup leader prove, beyond a doubt, that he is seeking to become president of the republic. The other reasons that may have been used to convince his colleagues, the army officers, to participate in the coup are also listed below:
- Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi carried out the coup in order to seize power. The purpose of the acts of terrorism and murders he committed was to supress the people in order for them not to oppose his ambition to seize power. The same can be said for his arrest of numerous leaders and the statements he made to the press which were revealed in his leaked conversations and suggest that he is able to destroy anyone thinking of running for the position.
- Control the military officer's authority and social standing: There is social movement in Egypt, as every level or profession is seeking to position itself on a higher level on the social ladder, giving it more respect and appreciation, and increasing its financial interests. This movement is a good thing if it is in the context of peaceful competition and is established on the foundation of achieving the country's interest above all, and if it avoids social or professional bias, as well as looking down on others.
- Preserve economic benefits and advantages: Since the Camp David peace treaty with Israel, military-owned economic institutions have expanded and been established in most economic activities (agriculture, industry, trade and services) and positions on their boards of directors became bonuses for senior officers when they retired from service. These projects cost them very little, as the land was free, and, sometimes, so was the electricity and water; the labour was done by military recruits, and they were not subject to taxes. This economic sector grew so large that it now represents 40 per cent of the Egyptian economy, according to some reports. There is no doubt that there are a large number of officials benefitting from this sector's many advantages, in addition to the vast amount of state-owned land that it now owns.
- Maintain secrecy regarding the military budget: The army's budget has remained one of the best kept secrets; it is the state's priority budget and is not accounted for at the end of the year. After the January 25 Revolution, demands were made for an open discussion about the military budget, excluding the cost of armaments, which is regarded as an issue of national security and cannot be published. Some people proposed discussing the armament costs in the parliamentary National Security Committee, with the rest of the budget up for open discussion like every other country. Secrecy, it was argued, cannot be used as a pretext for corruption; the military commanders were not comfortable with these demands.
- Fear of military escapades: Many coup leaders have stated that President Mohamed Morsi embraced nationalist principles and ideas, and according to the Washington Post Al-Sisi said that Dr Morsi's project was to revive the Islamic empire. However, these coup leaders ignored the fact that the nationalist idea means the belief that the Islamic people are one unified nation and that pursuit of such unity cannot be achieved by military invasions, but starts with building Egypt, improving it and strengthening it in every aspect. At the same time, cooperation with the Arab countries would be necessary, forming a joint Arab market in education, scientific research, agriculture, industry, the military, legislature and cultural integration, in order to establish a form of consensual unity that fits the situation of each country and is in tune with the times. This would certainly take decades and perhaps generations to achieve before moving on to non-Arab Islamic countries, which could require centuries.
- Mutual ideologies and interests with the West: There is no doubt that the coup organisers do not believe in the Islamic project as an independent project for the renaissance of Egypt, and so they reject President Morsi's vision; in short, they are secularists. The proof of this is that the Committee of Fifty chosen to amend the 2012 Constitution that was approved by 64 per cent of the people and which has morphed from a committee to amend the constitution to a committee writing a new constitution, are all, with a few exceptions, secularists, left-wingers and liberals who hate the Islamic project.
- Interaction with the Arab countries afraid of democracy and the correct Islamic model: Although the January 25 Revolution received much attention and fascinated the world, it was condemned by the Gulf States because it overthrew a corrupt regime and a tyrannical president who was an important pillar in the so-called moderate axis that follows American policies. It was expected of these governments to welcome the rise of Islamists to power since they consider Islam as their main frame of reference and are the guardians of the religion and its holy cities. Furthermore, if Egypt, with its involvement in modern science, progress and development, and its strength in a number of other fields, is able to eliminate corruption and escape American domination, it would be in the best interest of the entire Arab world.
The army officers jumped to the top of the social ladder after the 1952 revolution, when they were appointed to most of the senior positions in the country (both military and civilian) beginning from the president of the republic to the leadership and management of civilian institutions. This certainly put them on a higher social level and they felt privileged and superior to others, not to mention the many financial benefits given to them. This lasted for 60 years, with the exception of a short period after the 1967 defeat against Israel.
Moreover, the succession of military officials in the position of president (three) in the light of the dictatorship and tyrannical regimes has led to the feeling that the president needs to have a military background because of the control and added benefits this gives.
As such, when the January 25 Revolution took place in 2011 and ousted Hosni Mubarak (a former army officer), and the people wanted to restore their freedom, dignity and sovereignty under a civilian democratic constitutional and legal regime, the military leadership did not like the demands but were forced to deal with them under popular pressure. They continued to stall the progress towards democratic transformation until the first civilian president was elected a year and a half later, instead of 6 months later as was agreed originally.
Just days before the president was elected, the Shura Council was dissolved, restoring the military council's legislative authority and keeping it in the political scene and at the heart of national events. Problems were then put in the way of the new president, including the killing of Egyptian soldiers in northern Sinai less than two months after his election. The president launched a military attack against the terrorists in Sinai and made plans to attend the funerals of the martyred soldiers. However, shortly before the funerals, he received reports indicating a plot to attack him, so he did not go; at the same time he dismissed a number of military and police officials including Army Chief Field Marshal Al-Tantawi and Colonel Anan.
A member of the opposition against President Morsi said that he had met with a senior official in the American embassy who told him if he managed to gather 100,000 protestors in front of the presidential palace for three days, the US would recognise and support him. This opposition member also said that the Field Marshall told him to begin the protests and that he would support them, which is the same method used by Al-Sisi on July 3. This means that the military leaders rejected the idea of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces (the president) being a civilian. From then on, the plan to incite public opinion against the civilian president was carried out through the media, the refusal of government officials and bodies to carry out their duties, and communications between military officials and a number of politicians who lost the elections. This went on until it reached its climax on June 30, 2013 and the military leaders carried out their coup three days later.
Certainly a new government that intended to reform the system and eliminate corruption, restore the collapsed economy and apply social justice in a manner that allows as many Egyptians as possible to benefit from the country's bounties, would treat and deal with this sector fairly; that is bound to affect the many benefits accrued by military leaders. Therefore, the officers sought to overthrow the new government and restore the old regime that had allowed them to dip their hands into the state coffers, creating a mutually beneficial bond amongst the higher class that enjoyed wealth and good fortune, while the vast majority of the population lived just above or under the official poverty line.
In an article in the Washington Post, American journalist Seymour Hersh mentioned his friend Mohamed Hassanein Heikal and the conversation that took place between them when Hersh gave a lecture at the American University in Cairo, to which he was invited by Heikal. The doyen of Egyptian journalists asked Hersh if he thought that the army would let the Muslim Brotherhood take office and discover the inconceivable level of corruption, and then surrender their freedom to the Islamic movement. Hersh replied that this could happen in a revolution in which thousands had sacrificed their lives for the sake of cleansing the military institution, the institution that, once cleansed, would enable the country to head towards a clear future. At that point, Heikal mocked the Egyptian people, saying, "What people are you talking about who would sacrifice thousands to cleanse the state and the army?"
If President Morsi is a wise and rational man and believes in peace, gradualism, and the freedom and sovereignty of the people, then he could not be involved in such military escapades of this kind. As such, it is clear that his words have been exploited by the coup for the purpose of inciting the army against the president and inciting the West in order for them to accept the overthrow of a democratically-elected president and government.
They are in line with the West's wishes and this is clear from the words of Nabil Fahmi, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the coup government, who told a European television station that the reason for the coup was not because Morsi was good or bad, but because he wanted to turn Egypt's face into an Islamic face.
In addition to this, the West was hurrying to get rid of President Morsi because he was adopting a liberal and independent approach and was dealing with everyone as equals and with national dignity. He also wanted to expand Egypt's international ties with countries around the world and refused to subject his own country to the West and its policies; this even prompted Barack Obama to say that Egypt is no longer an ally of America. Moreover, Morsi was seeking self-sufficiency in food, medicine and weapons to ensure the independence of his decisions, and this definitely went against the West's wishes to control and dominate Egypt's policies. Furthermore, the president refused normalisation with the Zionists, and even refused to have warm relations with them, which sparked their anger and outrage, as well as that of the West. It is also known that the coup leaders have a close relationship with the West by virtue of the continuous training and contact, as well as dependency, throughout the rule of the Mubarak regime.
However, the Islamists, and Egyptians in general, have not thought of spreading the revolution beyond Egypt or destabilising any regime in any other country. Unfortunately, though, these governments thought that the revolution could be transmitted like a virus, so they adopted the wrong position and were hostile towards the revolution and its resultant democratic government. That is why the intelligence agencies of several Arab and non-Arab countries began plotting to overthrow the elected government in Egypt and spent billions of dollars to cause internal problems and sedition through the media. Moreover, they created crises over fuel and food, for example, and did not offer the government any aid so that they would intensify. They even helped the organisers to carry out the military coup, pumping in billions of dollars immediately afterwards, something that they are continuing to do.
Nevertheless, despite their careful planning, the coup leaders have overlooked one thing; the nature of the Egyptian people who rejected the coup from day one and have continued to protest against it on the streets for four consecutive months. Their protests have been peaceful despite the brutality of the coup-led regime which has pitted civilians against tanks, armoured vehicles, aircraft, guns and snipers. The coup government has killed 5,000 people, wounded 10,000 and arrested even more. They have even raided towns and villages with tanks, burned mosques and destroyed homes. Be that as it may, the people's determination to defeat and overthrow the coup is strong and, God Willing, will remain so.