Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Falling From Grace, the Lt. General

Falling From Grace, the Lt. General

Very few observers are privy to insider’s information surrounding Lt. General Sammi Annan’s bid for, and withdrawal from Egypt’s farcical presidential race.  In this brief narrative, which is derived from a very recent conversation I had with an extremely well informed retired high command source, and former ranking member of the Supreme Command Council of Egypt’s armed forces, I will try to connect the person and the events for a better understanding of the how, the where and the why!

Upon hearing Al Sisi speaking in an interview with the US media after his coup d’├ętat, my first impression was utter astonishment. The man lacked intelligence, insight and the basic ability to communicate and articulate.  It was starkly obvious that it would be a tragedy for Egypt if someone like him would take the mantle of power in the land of the Pharaohs.

This prompted me to seek further information since I had published in my blog a rosier picture of him which had contained solid information never known before. This time, I wanted to know the full story of Lt. General Sammi Annan; former chief of staff of Egypt’s armed forces; the man President Morsi had sacked along with his boss; Field Marshal Tantawi, so as later to announce his bid for the presidential race against Al Sisi, only to abruptly withdraw his bid without convincing explanations.

The most surprising piece of information that I had not expected to hear about Gen Annan was he was not a senior high command officer-candidate. He had not been elected for enrollment at Nassir Academy for High Command and Strategic Studies, an absolute must for any officer to continue his career beyond the rank of Brigadier General. Astonishingly, Sammi Annan’s officer-class seniority ranking number was a dismal 464 out of 1689…. So how did an officer with such appallingly dismal record hold the effective operational high command position in the world’s 16th largest armed forces? The answer is pure coincidence; being in the right place at the right time.

In November 1997, Lt. General Sammi Annan was an air defense Brigadier slated for retirement from military service at the end of his 4-year brigadier term.  Having been precluded from promotion to the rank of Maj General, and having been side-stepped from enrollment in the General Command training at Nassir High Academy, he was approaching his career’s exit gate. But an incident of severe gravity to Egypt's national security took place on November 17th of that year that had changed the course of history.  An extremist misguided group attacked semi-naked foreign tourists in Luxor, Egypt, murdering 58 of them in utter criminal cold blooded vengeance directed at the Mubarak Regime.  Unable to touch Mubarak, they vented their vengeance on peaceful, hapless visitors protected by the same Sharia law that they had been demanding to have instituted as the law of the land.

Luxor is an ancient antiquity town; which is a destination must see by visitors from around the globe. It is surrounded by mountains from 3 directions. The militant group had swooped down on the town from the mountains nearby. Having executed their criminal deed, they fled through the labyrinths and mountain passes that they knew so very well that local police authority were rendered incompetent and irrelevant. 

Brigadier Sammi Annan was at his mountain-top air defense operational command headquarters when his communications unit picked up wireless walkie-talkie signal of unknown and rather strange sources. His monitoring unit listened in on the conversation, identifying the source interlocutors as a terrorist group who had just committed a dastardly cowardice deed.  

Brigadier Annan sent an SOS signal to local police chief, who had no clue what the commotion was all about. The Brigadier, realizing the gravity of the dastardly act on national security, immediately contacted the office of chief of staff of president Mubarak advising the office communications director of the facts and telling him that the local police chief was a “’moron who had no clue about nothing.””  The brigadier, in possession of anti-aircraft missile and AA gun torrent systems only, and no suitable logistics for police operations sent a platoon with light self-defense weapons after the terrorists, who by then, had reached thick mountain cover and well-studied escape routes requiring air rotary wing to track and attack, which he did not have. Such weapon systems are impertinent to the nature of air defense operations.

Mubarak himself, seeing the world outrage against the terror act, flew immediately to Luxor. He gave the cold shoulder to the town’s mayor, the province governor and chief of police, and requested an account from Brigadier Annan. Immediately thereafter, 41 high ranking officials were sacked including the minister of internal security and 10 of his deputies, the governor, the mayor and chief of police. Brigadier Annan received presidential commendation, and an order of merit allowing him to enroll in the already 3-month underway high command class at the Nassir High War Academy and a promotion to Maj General.

This kind of presidential arbitrary shoot-from-the-hip decision did not sit well with other, more deserving ranking officers. After all, Annan did nothing of substance. All he did was contact office of the president’s chief of staff and sent a rifle platoon on a ghost chase but changed nothing on the ground, provided nothing to capturing the criminals and contributed nothing to national security. In other words, his act deserved an “attaboy”, but not a heroic recognition. 

Once completed his High war College training, Annan was appointed Air-Defense Commandant (Commanding General of the Air Defense Corps.) Three years later, he was promoted to Lt. General and appointed Chief of Staff of Egypt’s armed forces, all without any operational experience, limited high command stunt, and no qualifications for competence other than Mrs. Mubarak appreciated his priority contact the day of the terror act.

Now we have all the facts to conclude that Lt. Gen Annan was never popular among all senior ranking officers, and for all the good reasons, so when president Morsi sacked him along with the “Old Goat” (Tantawi’s nickname), Nobody cried over his oust. Tantawi was regarded as a Mubarak aberration, (22 years as minister of defense), and was also not missed.

When Sammi Annan announced his bid for the presidential palace, not one member of the Supreme Military Council stood by him or supported him. In fact, he received an unprecedented, unanimous ridicule, and negative reactions reverberated in all his corridors. The only private calls for support came from Suzanne Mubarak, her sons and entourage.  Now, he was forced into shameful seclusion and was reduced to an old fool with hermetical introversion.

Egypt's psychopathic general could not stand to see his old boss overcasting him in his bid for the office of president. Each one of the two men viewed himself as more deserving and more qualified. In truth, however, neither man's service record supports the respective claim. Both were mediocre officers with mediocre records. Both had no clue that they were unqualified as well as incompetent.

And that is Egypt's greatest tragedy!