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Egypt: The Guide and the military establishment - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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On Thursday the Muslim Brotherhood’s General Guide said “they [in the Egyptian army] are obedient soldiers, in need of leadership, and when the leadership was corrupt, these soldiers followed it, and that’s why there is a need for a wise readership as well as raising the soldiers’ awareness”. Was this just a slip of the tongue, or words taken out of context, as the Guide himself claims, having denied accusations of insulting the Egyptian military establishment?

I think that the answer should come within the overall context of the behavior and actions of the Brotherhood since they assumed power in Egypt. The overall context says that if the Brotherhood want to render al-Azhar obedient, “purify” the judiciary, the media and businesses, and exclude political opponents through character assassinations and smear campaigns, as is happening now against the leaders of the National Salvation Front, then we should not rule out that they are also planning and intending to destroy the Egyptian military establishment, the only remaining coherent institution in Egypt today. The story here is not one of words taken out of context, rather we are facing an organized, escalatory move by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, most notably with their attempts to the country via a constitution that divides rather than unites the population. Yet the problem that the Brotherhood have not understood today is that most of those who were deceived by them in the past, whether inside or outside Egypt, have begun not to trust them, and thus excuses such as “words taken out of context”, or phrases such as “the corrupt media”, no longer have any notable value.

Thus, against the backdrop of the clamor in Egypt between the Brotherhood Guide and the military, it would be best for the current debate in the country, and the region in general, to focus on the nature of obedience and its implications. Is it possible, for example, for military obedience to be a bad thing, whilst obedience to the General Guide is righteous? If the military establishment is fundamentally based on obedience, since the dawn of history, and armies, throughout the ages, even in the most powerful democratic nations have adhered to his, then how can it become wrong in the eyes of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose affiliates themselves declare obedience to their General Guide, despite the presence of state institutions; the judiciary, the presidency and so on? How can it be right to pledge allegiance to the ruler, or vote for an elected president, whilst pledging allegiance at the same time to the General Guide? This is something very difficult to understand, and completely contrary to the concept of the state of any kind!

This question, or discussion, about the concept of obedience, will lead everyone to an important point. It will show the difference between those who believe in the importance of the state and its institutions, and those who want to swallow the state and distort the performance of its institutions and its basic concepts. Obedience in the army simply means that there is a state and institutions, and this concept is found in all countries, even democratic ones such as the US, Britain and France, while obedience to a group, whatever that may be, including the Muslim Brotherhood, means the abolition of the concept of the state, its institutions, its constitution and laws, even eliminating the value and prestige of the head of state himself.

Therefore, this is the debate we should engage in now. We should not pay attention to the insults and accusations of treason, which are meant to distract and mislead public opinion. The debate must revolve around the following question: What is the difference between declaring obedience to the army and declaring obedience to a certain group? This is so that everyone is aware of the danger of what is happening in Egypt and our region.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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