Information Warfare: The Army Is Your Friend, Or Else

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June 14, 2011: Barely six months after a popular uprising in Egypt overthrew its "president-for-life" Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian military has imposed media censorship and is seeking to influence who gets elected in the upcoming (September) elections. The military made the overthrow of Mubarak possible by not attacking the demonstrators. Now the generals are insisting they are the Guardians of the Revolution and can control what the media says. This may backfire, but the generals are well aware of the fact they were a willing part of the Mubarak government. Moreover, the generals benefitted from corruption and immunity from prosecution so common among Mubarak cronies. The generals want to keep their privileges, and are trying to use their power to make that happen.

A major reason for the inability of Mubarak to suppress the anti-government demonstrations was the lack of a large, loyal and reliable security force. Not having such a force handy has long been unthinkable for any security conscious dictator. For example, in Iraq, Saddam Hussein had his Republican Guard, a force that was filled with well paid, well armed men who were, above all, loyal to Saddam. All other successful dictatorships have similar forces. Russia had the KGB, which not only employed spies, but also several divisions of troops trained and equipped to deal with rebellions by the population, or the armed forces. Iran has a similar force, the Revolutionary Guard, that serves a similar role as the old KGB. During World War II, Adolf Hitler had the SS, Gestapo and his private army, the Waffen SS, all of which kept Germany fighting until the very end.

Former Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak got lazy and greedy by filling his "regime maintenance" forces with conscripts (as troops) and recent college graduates (as officers). These security forces, like the 325,000 paramilitary police in the Central Security Services (belonging to the Interior Ministry, nor the Defense Ministry), were more loyal to the people than to the small group of corrupt politicians running the country. Things had gotten so bad that the small secret police force had taken to hiring criminal gangs to harass or intimidate visible opponents of the government. These thugs fled when confronted by serious opposition. And that's what they got during February, 2011.

The only people who were loyal to Mubarak were the most senior officers (active or retired) who were allowed a share of the national wealth being stolen by Mubarak, his family and key allies in the business world. By not spreading the largess around, Mubarak insured that he would be unprotected when a popular uprising got started.

Dictators everywhere are noting what happened in Tunisia and Egypt, and what did not happen in other nations undergoing popular uprisings. Expect to see some reorganizations, and more attention being paid to having a reliable KGB, Republican Guard, Waffen SS or Revolutionary Guard when you really need it.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Army has tried to organize a palace guard for themselves. But for this to work, something has to be done about all those conscript soldiers and officers who were recently college students. The dirty generals are still in danger of finding themselves under attack, and with no one to turn to.

 

 

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