You don't have to be mad to rule Egypt...
Al-Araby al-Jadeed looks at some of the more extraordinary statements made by Egypt's generals.
Egyptian generals. Not content with dismantling popular revolutions and jailing thousands of people, they also appear in the media to announce meat-based medical breakthroughs, reveal dangerous foreign plots and call for roasting protesters alive. Here are some of the more extraordinary statements made by Egypt's military elite.
Death from above
Major General Hamdi Bakhit has a theory that foreign planes are dumping "biological" weapons on Egypt.
|Egypt is being targeted from all sides by a biological war...
- General Hamdi Bakhit
In an interview broadcast by the pro-coup Sada al-Balad satellite channel on 14 November, Bakhit said: "I have information and video clips of foreign planes dumping poisonous gas on Egypt... Egypt is being targeted from all sides by a biological war, there are planes that are leaving in their wakes a gas called chemtrails, which is destroying the environment, air, land and people."
Told by Hamdi Rizq, the presenter of al-Nazra ["The View"], that Egypt had aerial weapons to counter such a heinous plot, Bakhit responded: "I am saying we need to inspect Egyptian airspace for these planes."
Kofta load of this
The air war over Egypt was but the latest fanciful outburst by Bakhit. In February he appeared on the same programme to promote army inventions that were said to cure Aids and hepatitis C.
The inventor, another major general named Ibrahim Abdel-Atti, had earlier announced that he had developed a way to break down the diseases, then feed them back to sufferers on kofta kebab skewers so they could develop immunity.
Other treatments included a "wand" that was pointed at patients, and a box known as the "complete cure device" that patients were hooked up to.
Bakhit said he believed the discovery was being suppressed in "a conspiracy against the armed forces internally and externally by the exploitative pharmaceutical companies".
At the time of publication, no big pharma corporation has yet unveiled a rival miracle kebab.
In April, Bakhit told the al-Tahrir satellite station that the army was developing a portable device that generated electricity for free, and a new substance that turned trees into concrete.
He said the army had lots of other inventions up its sleeves, but refused to reveal them. Watch this space.
Major General Abd al-Munim Saeed, the former commander of the Second Field Army and a former governor of North Sinai, revealed a historical plot by the Muslim Brotherhood to fill the Suez Canal with earth.
He told a conference held earlier this month and organised by the "Youths That Love Egypt Party" and the "Civilised Alternative Party", that the founder of the Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, proposed the plan to thwart the British in the first half of the 20th century.
According to Saeed, Banna asked his supporters: "Why are the English in Egypt?" "To protect the Suez Canal," they responded, so Banna suggested they fill it up to thwart them.
|It's not important if there are innocent people that are hurt.
- Major General Suwailam Alama
Kill 'em all
Major General Suwailam Alama doesn't like opponents of the Sisi government, and he's willing to go to any length to get them.
"It's not important if there are innocent people that are hurt," he told Nile News. "What's important is tackling sedition... Let them burn, are they the ones feeding us?"
Early to bed, never to rise
Major General Mahmoud Khalaf, an adviser at the Nasser Military Academy and touted as an expert on Hamas, said the Palestinian group was behind the deaths of more than 30 soldiers in an attack in Karam al-Qawadis, Sinai, in late October.
"I swear we'll put you to bed at sundown and drag you to court," he was quoted as saying.
The Reich stuff
Major General Abd al-Munim Kato, an adviser for the army’s department of moral affairs, told the Shrouk newspaper in December 2011 that protesters on the streets of Cairo should be burnt in ovens similar to Adolf Hitler's. Aside from messing up on historical detail, Kato was fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,400) for inciting violence and hatred against protesters.
Tharwat Gouda, a former brigadier-general in the intelligence services, is not as tight-lipped as his former position might demand. After the coup against President Mohamed Morsi, Gouda proudly told al-Watan newspaper that his men did not give Morsi "a single correct piece of information while he was president".
Poor Gouda was later sentenced to a year in prison and fined 500 pounds ($70) by a military court for giving away secrets of national security.
Major General Mohammad Rashad, a former agent in the intelligence services, knows how some of this might look to outsiders. He told al-Araby al-Jadeed:
"There is a big difference facts that reach experts for analysis and assumptions that are personal opinion.
"There has to be control over some of the people who appear in the media and speak on the grounds that they are spokesmen for the army and are privy to the internal goings-on of the armed forces."
|These people do not represent the military institution. They are just saying their personal opinions.
- Major General Adel Sulaiman
Major General Adel Sulaiman, the head of the "forum of strategic discussion to study defence and civil-military relations" in Egypt, likewise told al-Araby al-Jadeed:
"I hold media responsible for the phenomenon of these experts, whose history and expertise is unclear and whose comments have made many problems and are usually closer to science fiction scripts.
"These people do not represent the military institution. They are just saying their personal opinions. Their age and the long time since they were actually in the army are the reasons for this problem."
This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.
Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.