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17 August 2013

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ISL

Dear Colonel,

I would note, that Al Jazeera is now reporting from a source that the "plain clothes" people outside the mosque appeared to be on good/friendly terms to the security forces. True? Who knows. BBC also interviewed Egyptian Copts who sounded ready to take up arms themselves against Morsi supporters.

To me, I do not see the military maintaining control long term (absent subsidization from Saudi) where the population lives on $2/day or less and the economy is a mess at best, irrespective of whether the military succeeds in the short term.

I am completely in agreement with your general argument, that the events of now could have been avoided had US foreign policy in the past been more reality based, not to mention coherent. Although kerry's hair may impress, his message does not.

turcopolier

ISL

I think you are far too optimistic about the Egyptian masses. Of course the anti-Mursi people are friendly to the police and army. What else would they be? Of course the Copts are now willing to fight to defend themselves. Would you not be? I don't know what "long term" means in Egypt. Mubarak managed it for thirty five years. Egyptians will go on in their own way, eating "foul," and having too many children. Eventually there wil lbe another revolt caused by poverty and inspired by Islam. the real question is how long is the cycle? pl

MartinJ

Egypt under Nasser and Sadat was able to focus the masses on Israel. After Sadat made peace it turned the army and police into the focus of negative energy for the masses. Thinking of cycles, it was roughly one generation on from the end of the 1973 war with Israel that Egypt found itself in the midst of an insurgency in the mid-1990s.
That started around a generation ago. I'd say this latest upsurge, the Arab Spring triggered violence, is the next cycle. The actions of the army will finish it for this generation. Perhaps in 15 of 20 years time there will be another round.

turcopolier

MartinJ

well done. pl

m. hasan

I think the journalist John Bradley in his book: “Inside Egypt: the land of the Pharaohs on the brink of revolution” published 2008 surveyed the history of the country since the late 19th century and calculated that the cycle of revolution ranges between 28 to 35 years.
I understand that the generals ruling Egypt now think that they can get things under control very quickly before foreign pressure mounts. This scenario leads to the logical conclusion that the country will be governed by the army (in the form of General Sisi) for the next 5-10 years.

Just a hypothetical question for Colonel Lang: what if the MB & Morsi supporters continued their daily demonstrations in different quarters of Cairo and in the other governorates allover the country for the next 2-3 weeks accepting the losses in their side and the security forces continued their brutal slaughter of the demonstrators we saw throughout the last week, would this hypothetical scenario lead to a change in the calculations among the generals and a kind of mutiny or refusal to obey the orders of shooting the demonstrators between the soldiers and possibly we find them ordering Sisi to step down because continuation of this bloodshed will endanger the unity of the army? Thanks

turcopolier

m.hasan

"...what if the MB & Morsi supporters continued their daily demonstrations in different quarters of Cairo and in the other governorates allover the country for the next 2-3 weeks accepting the losses in their side and the security forces continued their brutal slaughter of the demonstrators we saw throughout the last week, would this hypothetical scenario lead to a change in the calculations among the generals and a kind of mutiny or refusal to obey the orders of shooting the demonstrators." I think not but it is always a possibility since the Egyptian officer corps are poor and grasping "leaders." IMO the demonstrations are already dying down and will disappear for the next five to ten years. pl

ISL

Dear Colonel, you beat me to it. I was thinking on this last night and was going to propose that given the global economy (high oil prices due to speculators being in control, which, thanks to the idiocy of biofuels, ties food costs closely to that of oil, and a global austerity mindset), long-term would be half a generation, or about 8-10 years (for a 16-20 year generation in Egypt). Short-term is a few months to half a year.

Interestingly, Juan Cole did an analysis similar of when has the long-term been stabilized by the type of actions Egypt is undertaking, and trying to make sense of his details, suggests a generation.

turcopolier

ISL

Speculation on the probably length of the next cycle in Egypt is a worthwhile activity and this should one of the main obsessions of the IC but I am not sure that there is such a thing as "long term stability" there. What many seem to have wanted among the US intelligentsia is simply surrender to an imagined irresistible wave of Islamism. That might yield the kind of long term stability that they have in Saudi Arabia. pl

David Habakkuk

"That might yield the kind of long term stability that they have in Saudi Arabia."

Is the 'stability' of Saudi Arabia stable, in the long term?

I stress, that is a question, asked out of ignorance. Assessing the likely stability of systems of which one thinks one has some understanding is difficult enough. Assessing the likely stability of systems one has no claim to understand at all -- my case in relation to the Saudi system -- is liable to be almost impossibly difficult.

Part of the difficulty, in other contexts, is that often hatred of a system, and contempt for those ruling over it who are also the principal beneficiaries, can be in conflict with terror of what its collapse might mean.

On element in this fear of anarchy. Nothing in the education of most contemporary British and American elites gives them any ability to grasp what anarchy might mean.

turcopolier

David Habakkuk

By any reasonable standard it could be expected that the government of Saudi Arabia would have fallen back around the time of the seizure of the great mosque. It did not. i am still waiting for it to fall. The entire state is maximized for regime survival through intimidation, exclusion of alien ideas (including non-Wahhabi Muslim ones)structured police and armed forces whose main concern is regime survival and co-optation of anyone dangerous. The Iran confrontation thing is just window dressing for Saudi foreign policy elites who wish to play games with DC and London. the real enemies are within and they know it. Egypt is yet another case like this. Egypt has always looked to be on the brink of economic collapse but iy never quite arrives at that point because so much of the economy is invisible. And, as you can see, the system is self rectifying for status quo survival. the army and police will simply kill and suppress enough Islamists to re-establish their authority for a while however long that might be and then they will do it again when they are threatened. i am still waiting for the Turkish shoe to drop. pl

Babak Makkinejad

That is a police state par excellence dedicated to the preservation of the ruling house. Many such governing structures have existed historically - in the Middle East as well as in Europe (prior to the birth of modern state there).

Saudi Arabia is also very heterogeneous country religiously - not everyone is a Wahabi there - and the governemt apparatus suppresses other Muslim schools.

Furthermore, there is very little mutual trust among the population; the Al Saud are keeping that country together; in the way that the Monarch kept the Empire (of heterogeneous people) together.

If the Al Saud fall, they will not be replaced by Western Secular Democracy, nor by an Islamic Republic modeled on Iran (however desirable that might be); it will become another Libya wherein the tribes will be fighting among themselves to gain control of the oil.

The real chance for overthrow of the Al Saud was when Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait; If he had sent his tanks to Riyadh after the capture of Kuwait City, the Al Saud would have collapsed; in my opinion.

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