The nihilism of Egypt’s military, and the collapse of the country’s institutions

Recent leaks aired on Mekameleen TV help us to understand the utter political bankruptcy of the current Egyptian régime.

The first leak, broadcast on 31st January, involved a phone call between junta leader Sisi and Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry regarding Egypt’s participation in the Lausanne Syrian Conference last October. The second leak aired on  10th February, involved a phone call between Sameh Shoukry and Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, Yitzhak Molcho, regarding the border demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia and issues related to the handing over of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia.

These leaks demonstrate the total capitulation of a once powerful nation at the heart of the Arab world. Since the January 25th Revolution, the unparalleled repression that has beset Egypt has taken the country into a cultural and political abyss.

The institutionalisation of abdication

The first leak reveals the extent to which the current system of repression has undermined the very ability of Egypt’s institutions to perform. Irrespective of any personal diplomatic capacity or professional intentions on the part of Sameh Shoukry,  while speaking to Sisi on the phone, it became blatantly obvious that institutional competency as a whole is a victim of the general decline in standards.

Egypt’s invitation to attend the Lausanne conference on the part of Iran, was clearly a sensitive matter given that the US had sought to deny Egypt a place at the table on the basis of its irrelevance to the Syria issue. However, Shoukry was instructed by Sisi to announce that it had been John Kerry who had proffered the invitation, without any regard for the Iranian foreign minister’s position, clearly demonstrating a total capitulation on the matter to US interests.

These events help in understanding other absurd diplomatic incidents such as Egypt’s vote in favour of the Russian draft bill in the UN Security Council regarding Syria last October, allowing for the continuation of the bombing of Aleppo, and its withdrawal under pressure of the UN draft bill condemning Israeli settlements, at the end of last year.

In the second leak, Sameh Shoukry is heard agreeing with Netanyahu’s lawyer, Yitzhak Molcho, on the border demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, supposedly an issue par excellence regarding Egyptian sovereignty.

There is no longer a reason of state behind Egypt’s diplomacy. But the problem goes much deeper, and the risk to Egyptian society is an institutionalisation of despair.

The military degradation of the Egyptian mind

The insidious qualities of the Egyptian military and its capacity for boring through all moral and institutional social structures in the country with its nihilism, is the subject of an Al-Jazeera documentary: