What Maspero Taught SCAF

The best militaries promote leaders who are adaptable and quick learners. Egypt’s military is far from the best, but it seems that at least SCAF is adaptable and quick to learn. A seminal lesson for SCAF was the killing of Copts at Maspero last October. In hindsight it now seems that those events were very instructive for SCAF. Exactly what did they learn?

1- The army can kill its citizens. That was an open question since February, but Maspero settled that.

2- The state media is still effective. If they can convince the broad Egyptian public that Copts (Yes, the Cowardly Copts!) are shooting at the army, then they can convince them of anything.

3- The MB is still atavistic and not a force for national reconciliation. Their reaction to the killings indicated that they never made the jump from a narrow religious organization to a broad political force. They can be drawn out, shown to be narrow, and then marginalized or suppressed. No one will stick their neck out to defend them. Their hunger for power is stronger than any moral core they might have once had. That is a good opponent to have.

4- The revolutionaries are hollow.  If they did not protest strongly, except for a few brave and decent souls, then their moral claim is vacuous and can be easily impugned.

5- The Copts are rational and fearful actors. Even when the army killed scores of them, the Pope took a moderate tone, fearing the Islamists as future killers more than the current killers.  In the months between February and October the revolution ceased to be theirs, it lost their trust. The romantic Copts who kicked the Church for its support of Mubarak  now became hard-edged realists. This will be useful in future campaigns.

6- The world does not care. No significant cry from the US or Europe. They have other fish to fry. SCAF has a free hand in Egypt.

Do these lessons seem applicable today, a few days away from the presidential elections?

2 Comments on “What Maspero Taught SCAF”

  1. Mostafa says:

    Agree – SCAF keeps testing the water and, when things seem to go fine, they pursue it further… The most recent example I can think of is when the “advisory council” (which was appointed by SCAF) requested that SCAF change article 60 so as to allow SCAF to form the consituent assembly themselves… No solid outcry or pushback from society, and a week later they are likely going to do exactly that it seems…

    The one thing I can think that backfired a little (and it seems they learned) was the targetting of females last November kida (i.e. blue-bra girl)… I tend to believe (just based on anecdotal evidence from videos and such) that they were clearly targeting females based on the Egyptian mentality it was a message to not send your wives/girls to these protests…

    If the events weren’t moving at an untenable pace, would have loved to document some of SCAFs actions (such as Maspero, supra-constitutional amendments, etc.) and what the result of it was regarding their future actions…

    Great blog btw, I think you are the only blog I have subscribed to via email..

  2. Many of the commentaries of Salamamoussa are just excellent but this one is not. It shows the response of someone not living in Egypt and being biased to the Copts.

    1. The army can kill its citizens. They were provoked but once provoked they did, but not only Copts but also Muslims in scores of other locations where demonstrators have clashed with both police and army. The best eyewitness account of Maspiro I have seen to date is that of Juergen Stryjak, not a participant but an observer from his balcony, overseeing all that took place. http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-13/24-eyewitness-maspero
    2. State media effective? They were anti-Coptic on the evening the slaughter at Maspiro took place but they did NOT convince the broad Egyptian public. I was in Egypt, got lots of response from Muslims that this could not be true, that this type of broadcasting was inciting. There was no massive outpoor of violence against Copts outside Maspiro following those broadcasts. This does not mean that this broadcasting was not outrageous but it did, formtunately, not have the effect Salamamoussa claims.
    3. MB – it is true they are not a force of national reconciliation but one can also neglect them and it would be best to engage in real dialogue (not superficial for media use, not neglecting major issues of concern). I don’t know where that would end but the effort should be made.
    4. Copts rational and fearful actors? I would wish that to be true. Pope Shenouda certainly was rational and responded wisely but many Coptic youth in the street were not. Please note the correlation between Coptic claims of Copts making up 15 to 20% of population and irrational behavior in the streets. Many of these Coptic youth in the streets that behave emotional, engage in big-talk, exaggerations, believe in those exaggerated numbers and stories. There are many problems Copts are facing and they need to be addressed but exaggerating them is not rational. I have mixed among those Coptic youths in the streets. Have you? I don’t think so.

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