Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Strategy Shift

If there is a time to shift strategies for the army it would be now. Last Friday proved to the army how determined the people to see justice served. They were ready to go out every Friday and perhaps even sleep in the square formerly known as Tahrir Republic. The protests were due to the slow pace of justice that had not been served to those in charge of running the country into ruins. Many of the protests that took place after the stepping down of Mubarak was on account of the protection given to the remnants of the old regime by the army.

This protection had a cost which protesters in Tahrir paid on numerous days. The army allowed the protesters to pay it gladly when it dispersed them on 25 February and on 9 March. However, this act of itself helped only alienate people more from an army it was willing to embrace. The more time passed, the more the sense of injustice, not just because of the torture and arrests that went unpunished, but also these old grievances from the old guard who seemed to enjoy some kind of unexplainable impunity.

The protesters were not the only ones to pay the price, but the army reaped what it had sown. The revolutionary unrest spread within the ranks of the seemingly monolithic army. Army officers joined the Tahrir protests in uniform causing a great commotion on 8 April. Till now we are unsure whether those joining the protests were authentic officers in service or ex officers wearing the uniform. It didn’t matter much, because the chance that such a rift within the army’s ranks threatened the Supreme Military Council’s own existence. The army is the last standing organized institution with enough respect and enough arms to keep the country together. If some of the army were to revolt against leadership, it would mean the end of the Military Council at the very least and leave the country’s fate to unknown forces.

The military may have realized that the only way to end to the infectious revolutionary spirit that was about to infect the lower ranking officers was by giving the people what is rightfully theirs. In order to give them what is rightfully theirs, to bring NDP party members and the remnants of the old regime to justice. That also meant that they must lift the protection they had till then bestowed upon them.

In a way, the military council had to choose between its own existence and the remnants of the old regime. Perhaps this realization is the reason as to why there is a shift in strategy. Once the military had taken the decision to survive, all the remnants of the old regime had to be brought to justice.

If the army has truly realized that they cannot appease both the remnants of the old regime and the people, it would mean a shift in strategy and more decisions that make sense. The army will also try its best to erase any wrongdoings done in order to protect the corrupt. It is unlikely that the army will release the detainees however any time soon, as releasing this great number with their stories will risk more protests in Tahrir that they are finding increasingly hard to clear.

It is unclear as yet if this is the route taken by the army, or if there is something else behind the actions that have struck us with joy but have not removed all suspicion. Now is the time to wait and understand whether the measures are sincere. One thing has been proven so far, that people willing to leave their homes and take to the streets, will not be fooled.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Perks of a Uniform

Much of what I feel will have no impact on the course of matters, but I feel it anyway. The amount of adamant denial displayed by a people so desperate for a savior is beyond belief. It saddens me that people cannot see injustice even as it looks them in the eye.

I do not blame the army for protecting Mubarak, I do not blame the army for protecting Safwat, I do not blame the army for protecting Serour, I do not blame the army for keeping alive an evil that has run the country into ruins. I do blame the people who deserve to be oppressed and are oppressors themselves. They do not only want to suffer the oppression but blame anyone standing up for it. They praise the oppression if it comes in a uniform and condemn rights if it comes in civilian clothes.

The Egyptian silent majority are really ignorant, or enslaved in a form of thought that has completely weakened them. I’m sad to say that they are not in business for a fight for freedom, but they are trying as best they can to serve a slavery sentence. They have accepted their masters, the army, with open arms and complete surrender. They speak to revolutionaries as if they were slaves, but they do not realize that they are free. Yes, the slaves do not realize that the revolutionaries are free people whose fight for freedom will not be mandated by the slaves, nor by the masters.

Let’s think about the future of Egypt, they say. They remind me of Jews who resented Moses’ attempts to set them free. They blamed him for demanding their freedom.

I cannot blame them. They would rather live as slaves than die as free people. The rationalization behind their denial comes in various forms and seems to them impeccable. Yet their escape from the reality of what’s around us is saddening. They would sooner disbelieve their senses than believe something contrary to what’s in their head.

I will not claim a superiority here, I will claim that I don’t see things their way. The good intentions of the army make their actions hard to justify, but assuming a sinister intention, they become easy.

All these excuses are because the army is wearing a uniform. If other groups of people killed to their advantage, the people would be angry, but because they wear a uniform they are given excuses.

The same people who ask me to shut up about violations have once spoke of justice, of truth. Yet why is it that everyone is a bloody politician now? Why do we have to tolerate the same violence, torture and killing of the previous regime just because there’s a new face? Will it take 30 years for slaves to realize they’re enslaved?

You’re enslaved to the army now. If you believe their lies, if you believe that people don’t have the rights they were universally given. Pseudo intellectualism is more dangerous than ignorance.

At the end of the day these are just thoughts. It’s hard to convince someone that one plus one equals to two if they tell you that in the long run, we should assume it’s four. How do you argue with that?

Somewhere along the line, some will be offended. I would be too if what I read disagreed with my thoughts. But I don’t think that I can lie about my feelings so as to not lose friends. I do believe in the principle of honesty, something which others have difficulty with.

Never has standing up to something wrong been incorrect. If you want to play politics then forget values you’ve been taught. Play it dirty, and stay out of my way. I do not desire your weakness and your denial. I do not desire your immoral route to salvation.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Two Ways About It

I find myself often thinking about Tahrir republic. It’s a time that I miss immensely, where childlike hopes and dreams got us together in hopes of changing a nation. Every word shouted and every stranger helped seemed vital in our steps forward towards changing what seemed unchangeable. There was strength in numbers, but there was also strength in every individual whose actions meant something. The vast beaches though are made of these tiny grains, determined to make sand what it is. These grains don’t complain about their insignificance, and even when buried under the sea, their color helps determine the reflection of the skies above.

My Tahrir nostalgia comes not from missing the place, but from missing the spirit. It’s a spirit which was crushed for ages under the weight of oppression, a spirit which was once told it would never amount to anything; that they were young and foolish, and other generations were better. That spirit brought back a rolling body from the edge of a cliff and gave it life once more. That spirit became alive when every one of us believed that the little things they do make a difference. That spirit of Tahrir faded for some time, and I look back upon it ever so lovingly, missing it.

That’s what they said, right? That people weren’t ready to accept one another. That people weren’t ready to decide amongst themselves as to what they want. What I’ve seen with my own eyes tells me different, tells me that people are willing to love one another, that people are willing to help one another, that people are willing to die for one another. The memory of what we stood for in Tahrir is ever so strong, ever so powerful, ever so compelling that I refuse to believe that it was just a shooting star.

Skeptics have compared that what happened in Tahrir to the effect of drugs that is wearing off. I don’t think I can believe that having seen what I did. I believe that what happened there was a real goodness that cannot be evoked by adding a layer of lies, but one that is uncovered by removing a layer of lies. Tahrir is the core and all else are layers of dirt.

I can see the layers of dirt covering us again, camouflaging who we truly are just like years of oppression have managed to do so. But the dirt is not enough, for our true core shines from beneath it. I do not say this now because of what I have witnessed in Tahrir, but because of what I saw even at the height of an oppressive regime. Those bursts of goodness experienced rarely but vigorously have helped me realize what we’re made of. The sedation, the drugs is what the media feeds us. The passing effects are stimulants that play on our untamed instincts. As time passes, we shake the dirt from over our heads. If anything at all, that’s what we’ve learned to do in Tahrir. We’ve learned that we can band together if we rid ourselves of dirt, we can find a genuine love to unite us more than ideologies and interpretive beliefs. We’ve learned to really enjoy the goodness we receive from strangers. We learn to want to give back to others when we realize that strangers have died for us to fight for our freedom and dignity. The least we owe them is to love one another as they have loved us. Giving our lives is not something we are willing to do, but the least we can do is give up some of our differences for a greater good.

Every time I think of Tahrir, I think about the people who were ready to help one another and die for one another. How is it that we got so divided? It doesn’t matter, the real question is how will we be united. Every time I think of Tahrir and the sacrifices made by those who had more to lose than I did, it makes any ideological subtleties insignificant. Every time I think of sacrifices, I’m willing to sacrifice something of my own.

There are two ways to think about Tahrir and where we’re heading. It’s either that Tahrir was a temporary phenomenon, a chance encounter like a stone thrown into a water, whose ripples are fading, or to think that Tahrir is who we truly are and that our petty differences are dirt following the regime’s strategy of telling us we were never worth anything.

This will always be something for each to make up their mind about. I know that what I saw from people in Tahrir could not have been an illusion. It was there and I touched it. When people bond together, that’s what’s real. Politics, money and the thirst of power that ensues isn’t, even though the world wants us to believe so.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

All It Takes Is a Push

Been some time since I wrote what I felt without really thinking. I don’t really know what to write though. Maybe it’s because I’m tired, and maybe it’s because I have no thoughts and maybe it’s because I cannot decipher my feelings at the moment. I’m not sure what it is, but I want to express how unsure I am of what I’m feeling.

My presence in a barren land makes my head a wasteland where no real thought or emotion would dare pass through. The thoughts are simple, the feelings are simple. Everything is simple and yet made complex by that desire of a country to be something it is not. In an attempt to race against time and to catch up with those who have journeyed before, the country has let go of all its baggage and swiftly moved forward. As it approaches the finish line it may realize that it has left everything of value behind.

I’m relatively okay. I don’t know what that’s relative to. That’s the problem with relative, is that you don’t really know what to relate to. Maybe that’s also the problem with absolute, you don’t know what to relate to.

Sometimes it feels as though there’s so much to do, but what does it all matter? It feels like there’s so little to do as well. Small acts, big acts, medium acts, they’re all part of the same coin that falls flat on one side or may fall on its edge and rest there.

It’s liberating sometimes to express these thoughts to paper, a loyal friend that has never rebuked me for any kind of ink I place upon it. The paper understands and stares back at me, even though it should not.

All it takes is a push, and you’re somewhere else. We never think of these pushes when we’re on a flat land, we think of them when we’re on an edge of sorts, either trying to go up, or trying to go down.

Somehow, something has been expressed.