Commemorating the revolution, Egypt’s army celebrates itself

Egypt’s military on Sunday distributed a 16-page, self-congratulatory issue of its newspaper “The Armed Forces,” in which it lists its achievements during and after the 25 January revolution.

The paper was a supplement to the state owned Al-Akhbar newspaper and was also distributed by military personnel in some polling stations during the first day of Shura Council elections.

The army newspaper has been issued for the last 20 years. Previously, it was circulated only inside the army but since the outbreak of the 25 January revolution, the paper has been distributed along with other state-owned newspapers.

However, the paper is being circulated in a tense atmosphere, as protests have been staged against what activists say is the military’s failure to properly manage the transitional period.

While marking the anniversary of the beginning of the 25 January revolution on Wednesday, many protesters called on the army to immediately transfer power to a civilian government, saying that the army has failed to meet the demands of the revolution.  

Voters in the delta city of Mahalla were surprised to find army personnel who guard polling stations distributing the paper.

In the paper, the armed forces congratulate themselves for their support of the revolution and the role they played in the year following their rise to power.

The headlines of the paper varied from saluting the Egyptian people — “The 25 January Revolution is a revolution by a great people, protected by a chivalrous army” — to claiming that the army played a key role in the revolution — “The armed forces are a main partner in the success of the revolution.”

The contents of the paper depict the head of the military council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, as protecting the revolution and making decisions that are in the best interests of the Egyptian people.

It also featured reports on the military government’s foreign policy, citing the reconciliation agreement made between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, the Palestinian-Israeli prisoner swap deal and Tantawi’s many meetings with foreign leaders/

Alongside pictures of soldiers assisting civilians and civilians giving them flowers, the main headline on the front page reads, "The armed forces are a main partner in the success of the revolution and has supported its legitimate demands."

The rest of the supplement goes on to emphasize the unity of the people and the armed forces, featuring a two-page spread outlining the armed forces’ sacrifices throughout the year under the headline "Egypt will not forget the historic position that its armed forces took in the 25 January revolution."

A spread titled “They are indeed the men of difficult missions” highlights the role of the armed forces in maintaining security after the fall of the Interior Ministry during the 18-day uprising.

Images of friendly soldiers greeting children, helping the injured and shaking hands with civilians are prevalent in the issue, as are pictures of Tantawi meeting with various foreign representatives.

Of course, in this self-celebratory issue, there was little mention of the army’s crackdown on peaceful protestors, such as when 27 people were killed last October during the breakup of a peaceful protest in front of the Maspero building or the violent dispersal of sit-ins in front of the cabinet building in December, during which 17 people were killed and images of soldiers beating and dragging protesters were widely circulated.

The paper said that these incidents are being investigated by the judiciary, adding that they are “minor incidents” that will not spoil the deep trust that exists between the Egyptian people and its armed forces. 

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