- September 21, 2013
- 18 minutes read
Break the Will: Coup and Revolution Strategies
The civil conflict that started in Egypt after the military coup is the result of the intervention of state institutions, especially the armed forces, police and judiciary, in the political struggle, and the use of their authority and arms in support of a certain sector of society against another that is being physically liquidated. This dragged the country into a state of bloody conflict, albeit by proxy, which led to real civil strife.
This is a war of wills and awareness, in the first place. The military junta tried to break the popular will and to distort public awareness, so it could mount a coup against the January 25 Revolution and against democracy. Then, the military coup’s plot went on to try and break the will of the people and confuse public opinion, so as to abort the anti-coup movement endeavoring to resurrect the revolution, and then be able to establish absolute military rule.
The anti-coup movement endeavoring to resurrect the Revolution
• Does not only fight a political battle with the military junta
• Fights a social and cultural battle, as well. In fact, it fights a fierce battle to protect and reinforce the people’s will so it shall not break
• Fights an information battle, too, to counter the organized mutilation of public awareness by the military junta.
The battles against the coup and for regaining the Revolution face a pivotal and central challenge, the challenge of maintaining the cohesion of society.
For one thing, the authorization by certain sectors of society for the junta’s forces to eliminate other sectors represented, on the ground, the biggest crack in the national fabric of the homeland in its modern and contemporary history.
The battle between the Revolution and the counter-revolution has, therefore, become a battle over the will of the people, public awareness and public opinion. The more popular will is reinforced, the more alert the public awareness, and the more cohesion in the bulk of society, the more likely it is that the military coup will be aborted, and that the attempt to restore the repressive military police state will fail.
Thus, the battle of wills, between the military junta, and the anti-coup movement, is centered around the basic schemes of the military coup, through which it aims to undermine the capacity, resources and essential components of the community, including:
First: Social hatred scheme…
• break the violence with peaceful protest
• break hatred
Second: Division of society scheme…
• stop the disintegration
Third: Identity battle scheme.
Fourth: Intimidation and scaremongering scheme.
Fifth: Frustrating peaceful protest scheme.
First: Social hatred scheme…
Even before the military coup, pro-military media outlets did their worst to spread hatred in society, inciting violence in a very open, direct and relentless campaign.
• Pro-military media made of the Muslim Brotherhood an enemy in certain sectors of society.
• The hate campaign was escalated, even using libel and slander
• Vilification and demonization were then used in a savage, uncivilized manner
• Hostile media focused on the coverage of attacks on the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), portraying that violence as truly revolutionary actions
• They trampled values and traditions, in order to break society’s values, so that the community at large would fall in moral disarray, to help deepen the state of civil conflict. This prepares Egyptians to be completely unfazed by the deaths of thousands of their compatriots.
Not surprisingly, some citizens have come to fear the others, enough to make them rejoice in their death and exclusion, so they would get rid of the fear that grabbed them.
Climate: The weaker the community gets, the deeper it sinks into violence and hatred, the less it will be able to exercise democracy with awareness and understanding, and the more likely it will be to go astray.
• Break the violence with peaceful protest
The bloody violence used by security forces in the crushing of Rabaa and Nahda peaceful protest vigils led, on the ground, to a negative reaction among large sections of coup supporters towards violence and scenes of blood.
While pro-coup media persistently commended attacks ‘by locals and residents’ against the anti-coup protesters, the leadership of the Pro-Legitimacy National Alliance denounced attacks ‘by hired thugs’ on peaceful protesters – which means that the junta’s media henchmen practically welcomed societal violence, whereas the pro-legitimacy Alliance condemned the violence, not as spontaneous attacks by locals, but as a security-planned crackdown.
This is how the confrontation took shape between two parties – one fueling societal strife, dragging the Alliance to violence so as to justify its own violence against it and then rapidly militarize the state (while fully supporting the military coup), and the other party is on the receiving end of societal violence and refuses the military coup as a whole.
• Break hatred
In order to maintain the cohesion of society, the area of hatred must be shrunk, and healthy social interaction restored. The community needs also to restore the values that were undermined by the hatred and violence scheme.
This means that the community does not need a political movement only to regain the Revolution, but in fact requires political and social action that will restore harmony and social interdependence gradually and reduce the spread of hatred.
In any case, prevalent hatred cannot be fully eliminated, nor can the homeland’s wounds be completely cured, but the community can come out of danger. The less hatred there is in society, the more it became a minority issue, until it is no longer a common societal phenomenon.
Second: Division of society scheme…
The junta used the Muslim Brotherhood boogeyman, just like the pre-revolution regime, to dismantle the pro-Islamist blocs, working to spread a state of hatred, among blocs belonging to the Islamic trend, against the Brotherhood, to break up the Islamist current and then take advantage of this disintegration to impose a secular identity on the state.
By repeating this process of disintegration, in which the military junta used the hatred and violence scheme, it managed to weaken the pro-revolution, pro-democracy blocs, and formed blocs in favor of military rule, thus giving popular cover to the process of building a new military regime. Hence, society became divided regarding the revolution, democracy and national identity, with this division deepening to such extent that it reached the blocs belonging to a single identity and a single current, the blocs that represent the masses of the Islamist movement.
• Stop the disintegration
The anti-coup movement endeavoring to resurrect the Revolution is facing the risk of societal disintegration, which poses a challenge to the Revolution and the democratic transformation, since the disintegration of society can abort the Revolution and undermine the democratic transformation.
The anti-coup movement is practically a movement of restoration of community cohesion and harmony, just as it seeks to regain freedom, a strong popular will and greater public awareness.
If it creates a clear majority that supports the Revolution, believes in the rules of democratic process, and accepts and respects the people’s choices, the anti-coup movement will have practically built up the solid grass roots of the Revolution.
Third: Identity battle scheme …
Identity battles can indeed lay the foundation for civil strife and even civil war, as they are related to cultural and civilizational heritage of the community. Knocking the cultural and civilizational heritage of the community leads to its disintegration, while restoring the role of cultural and civilizational heritage, whatever it is, leads to cohesion and harmony.
Society cannot achieve cohesion and unity without the inherited culture and civilization that makes up its identity. There is no coherent and unified society that has no dominant characteristics, common identity, prevalent customs and pervasive traditions. Since the main current in a society is its backbone, and the Muslim Brotherhood is the backbone of the main current, the military junta has endeavored to dismantle that backbone, in order to then dismantle the main current, and soon disintegrate the community.
Fourth: Intimidation and scaremongering scheme…
As people close ranks and unite for freedom, in order to break the barrier of fear, common ground is found, which makes most people defend freedom, whatever the outcome, defend their right to free choice, whatever the dominant or prevalent choice, and defend their right to choose who represents them, whoever wins a majority.
So the military coup succeeds, if it defeats the people’s dream of freedom. But as the general public continues to break the barrier of fear, freedom will be regained, the coup defeated. It can be said that if widespread popular protest continued in all corners of the country against the military coup, the junta will fall gradually and fail to achieve any of its objectives, which will render it practically and historically dead. The continuation of peaceful demonstration, in various ways and forms, across time and space, will secure an astounding victory for freedom and will break the barrier of fear.
Fifth: Frustrating peaceful protest scheme…
Through the media blackout, the military-appointed regime is trying to hide the extent of popular protest against the coup, thwart the peaceful protest, and push people into a state of frustration and despair.
On the one hand, the policy of repression adopted by the police aims to scare people away from demonstrating, even from expressing their opinions. On the other hand, the policy of completely ignoring peaceful protests aims to push protesters to despair and frustration, while the policy of intransigence aims to convince most people that the coup’s roadmap will be implemented in all circumstances.
The January 25 Revolution was mounted as a new phase of Egyptian history, and even the history of the whole Arab and Muslim region, but it did not possess essential elements of sustainability, i.e. a strong and informed popular will. However, the second wave of the Revolution, after the return of tyranny and oppression, has become the phase in which the building of the people’s free will is complemented and public awareness is restored.
In order for the revolution and the democratic transition to have the necessary ingredients to protect the path of the revolution, until the democratic political structure is completed, the community needs to achieve cohesion and unity, and also its prevalent current needs to emerge, and so does its cultural and civilizational heritage. Those must become a general framework which protects the unity and harmony of the community.
Furthermore, society needs to resist division and disintegration attempts, until society becomes the strongest factor in the political process equation, and free popular will becomes the decisive factor in all political options.