While we celebrate the victories of our great army in the October 1973 war, during which they broke the Bar-Lev Line, crossed the Suez Canal and raised the Egyptian flag in the beloved land of Sinai, it brings to mind an important question: Is this brave army that fought one of the most epic battles of heroism and sacrifice in defence of Egypt and its people the same army that is now killing and harming its people during the peaceful demonstrations demanding freedom, social justice, and human dignity?
The quick answer that comes to mind without even thinking about it is no and a thousand nos. This army’s soldiers are Egyptians from the soil of this country, how can they kill their own people and consider them enemies that must be fought and killed? The answer is simply that the Egyptian army’s doctrine has changed. Instead of the Zionists being the permanent enemy that threaten Egypt’s national security and which must be fought, political Islam and its various groups have become the enemy that must be eliminated.
The target has changed and Islam has become the enemy, and those following Islam are now seen as terrorists, just as America and the West label them. America has succeeded in changing the doctrine of the army from fighting Israel to fighting the Islamists. It has trained an entire generation of soldiers after the signing of the Camp David Accords to follow this doctrine, and this generation is today’s generals and military leaders. This is Camp David’s army, not Egypt’s honourable army that guards its own people, faces the dangers and challenges the impossible to protect and defend them.
America was not only content with this, but also spent billions of dollars on it and used it for purposes it has no business getting involved in, such as the economy, in order to distract them from fighting and training. Instead, the army became concerned with economic projects and established factories for pasta, jams and pickles. The army forgot its fighting skills and learned to pave roads, build sewage systems and sell petrol and diesel. Hence, the Egyptian army took control of 60 per cent of the Egyptian economy, allowing it to control the Egyptian market and impose its control on state institutions. This gave the army its own budget, completely separate from the state budget, making it a state within a state called the Egyptian Army State, establishing political, economic and military treaties separate from the Egyptian people’s parliament.
The most recent of these treaties was the military cooperation agreement between the Egyptian army and the coup leaders in Libya, which has led to weapons, military equipment and troops being sent to the coup leaders to fight the Libyan rebels who toppled Gaddafi and his regime.
The Egyptian army’s doctrine spread outside the country’s borders and is used to fight the Islamists wherever they are. When he marketed himself to the West, the leader of the coup in Egypt, Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi, announced that he would combat terrorism and defend the countries in the region against the threat of terrorism (Islamists), describing the battle as “a piece of cake”.
Therefore, Al-Sisi has transformed the great Egyptian army into mercenaries that are sent, on demand, to various countries to fight on their behalf. This is definitely not the same army that fought the Tenth of Ramadan war. This is Al-Sisi’s army; damn this army and salutations to the brave Egyptian army that fought the battles of pride and honour in 1973 and achieved victory, while Al-Sisi’s army is being defeated at the hands of the Libyan Dawn rebels.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.