Being in Suez and not seeing a huge ship entering the southern gate of the canal was off our thoughts. So we got up early and drove to Port Taufiq, a place directly located at the Canal. Surprisingly there was a fence – the entire promenade was closed and under military control. Very disappointing!
Ahmed – one of the soldiers – was obviously bored. A conversation with us promised to be a nice change. He is a dentist from Cairo. However – being not the only son in the family – he has to accomplish at least one year military service.
Ahmed explained that the fence was installed just recently. “Military protects the people!” he said. Somehow it remained unsettled whether the fence and military safeguard Egyptians against the dangers of the Suez Canal or the other way round. He referred to dangerous cargo – but that was also transported before the fence was installed, wasn’t it? In this case fences and machine guns are rather of limited use …
The Canal is only navigable one way: In the morning northbound towards the Mediterranean and in the afternoon southbound towards the Red Sea. The significance of this route is obvious – the alternative route leads around Cape of Good Hope (South Africa). Quite a bit of a journey…
The relationship between the Egyptians and their military is special. In the past, the president was appointed by the military (so just recently for the transition period). The Egyptians also trust their army up to a certain level: military prevented a bigger bloodshed in the days of the revolution. Thus a situation like in Libya, in which the army shoots their own people, was less likely to happen in Egypt.
Nevertheless time will be limited for the current military administration. The revolutionaries on their path to democracy won’t allow the military to stay in power longer than needed. People went to the streets to implement a democracy – where the role of the military is different than it is today. More information about the role of the Egyptian military can be found here.