It’s All About Crushing Egypt’s Revolution, Mr. Friedman

“On the Egyptian military’s priority list, nothing comes before crushing the revolution, not even the USA and its $1.3 billion annual aid.

Dr. Ashraf Ezzat

 “Egypt’s Step Backward” is Mr. Thomas Friedman’s latest pieces on post-Mubarak Egypt.  Published in the New York Times on Feb. 21, Mr. Friedman gives his precise perspective on the current political scene in Egypt, but I wished he had scratched the surface harder and digged deeper.

Mubarak’s era, as brutal and autocratic as it has been, was much easier to read and predict than this foggy and volatile transitional period the Egyptians are currently enduring through. Therefore, I would like to throw in few clarifications on the discussed issue, as a native observer of Egypt’s political street.

This whole soap opera about Egypt NGOs and the crackdown on pro-democracy workers, including American and European staffers is but a clever move in a long series of actions in a cunning scheme to counteract the revolutionary tide on the Egyptian street and save the day for a faltering regime.

It has nothing to do with the absurd allegations of a foreign agenda playing out in Tahrir square“Mossad & CIA steering the Egyptian revolution” that the Egyptian state media and regrettably some of the foreign alternative media have been raving about.

Those allegations, while being carelessly peddled and obscenely detached from reality, are so insulting to the struggle of pro-democracy activists and to the lives that were sacrificed during the past year.

What Mr. Friedman didn’t mention, though I’m sure he is aware of, is the fact that Egypt was, and still is, a police state.

Over the last 4 decades the infamous state police apparatus has swelled and mushroomed, due to an exceedingly overdose of totalitarianism and corruption, into something more powerful than politicians, the judiciary system and even the army.

The mighty security apparatus had the power to oversee all of the country’s internal affairs except, of course, for the military’s economic empire.

Any enterprise, local or foreign, once flagged by the apparatus for any fake security concerns, which was often the case, its operations were immediately put to a halt and the people behind it somehow pursued with well knit legal traps.

Maybe Mubarak has been ousted but the president was not the regime, the state military/police apparatus is.

Fayza Abul Naga, Egypt's minister of planning and international cooperation

As much as I can understand why Mr. Friedman is picking on Egypt’s minister of planning and international cooperation, Fayza Abul Naga, whose testimony against democracy workers has bolstered the fake case before the Supreme Court, but I’m afraid there’s a lot more to this than the buried grudge of this old Mubarak’s loyalist.

Abul Naga is just a pawn in this post-Mubarak political game, she didn’t file the case against democracy workers on her own account. She was told to frame the US for the illegal funding of pro-democracy organizations and for sustaining the state of chaos in the country as well. she was told to stick Israel and the US in the testimony to make it look like a case of foreign meddling in the Egyptian sovereignty. 

After a year of endless and deadly confrontations with  pro-democracy protesters the police have reached this conclusion “ the only way to stop protesters from going back to Tahrir square is to do away, once and for all, with the pro-democracy activists, no matter who they are, Egyptians or even foreigners, and no matter what kind of strings are attached”

With Mohamed El-Baradei out of the way, the presidential race has narrowed down to a number of candidates/puppets who are likely to do business with the military behind closed doors. And those who remain loyal to the revolution and defiant to the military/police authority are currently being bullied by the state security thugs (not the CIA/Mossad agents)

As the military/state security commanders are bracing for the final battle of reinstating and securing the old regime nothing comes, on their priority list, before crushing the revolution, not even the USA and its $1.3 billion annual aid which the top brass know damn well that it is nothing more than a concealed bribe for playing friends with Tel Aviv. And therefore they are not really worried over the American threats to withhold aid payment.

This is not about national Egyptian dignity nor the American/Egyptian relations, this is all about saving the sinking ship of Egypt’s oligarchs, Mr. Friedman.

Egypt’s Step Backward
By Thomas L Friedman

SADLY, the transitional government in Egypt today appears determined to shoot itself in both feet. On Sunday, it will put on trial 43 people, including at least 16 American citizens, for allegedly bringing unregistered funds into Egypt to promote democracy without a license.

Egypt has every right to control international organizations operating within its borders.

But the truth is that when these democracy groups filed their registration papers years ago under the autocracy of Hosni Mubarak, they were informed that the papers were in order and that approval was pending.

The fact that now — after Mubarak has been deposed by a revolution — these groups are being threatened with jail terms for promoting democracy without a license is a disturbing sign. It tells you how incomplete the “revolution” in Egypt has been and how vigorously the counter-revolutionary forces are fighting back.

This sordid business makes one weep and wonder how Egypt will ever turn the corner. Egypt is running out of foreign reserves, its currency is falling, inflation is rising and unemployment is rampant.

Yet the priority of a few retrograde Mubarak holdovers is to put on trial staffers from the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which are allied with the two main United States political parties, as well as from Freedom House and some European groups.

Their crime was trying to teach Egypt’s young democrats how to monitor elections and start parties to engage in the democratic processes that the Egyptian army set up after Mubarak’s fall. Thousands of Egyptians had participated in their seminars in recent years.

What is this really about? This case has been trumped up by Egypt’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Fayza Abul Naga, an old Mubarak crony.

Abul Naga personifies the worst tendency in Egypt over the last 50 years — the tendency that helps to explain why Egypt has fallen so far behind its peers: South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brazil, India and China.

It is the tendency to look for dignity in all the wrong places — to look for dignity not by building up the capacity of Egypt’s talented young people so they can thrive in the 21st century — with better schools, better institutions, export industries and more accountable government.

No, it is the tendency to go for dignity on the cheap “by standing up to the foreigners”.  That is Fayza’s game.

As a former Mubarak adviser put it to me: “Abul Naga is where she is today because for six years she was resisting the economic and political reforms” in alliance with the military. “Both she and the military were against opening up the Egyptian economy.”

Both she and the military, having opposed the revolution, are now looking to save themselves by playing the nationalist card.

Egypt today has only two predators: poverty and illiteracy. After 30 years of Mubarak rule and some US$50 billion (RM300 billion) in US aid, 33 per cent of men and 56 per cent of women in Egypt still can’t read or write.

That is a travesty. But that apparently does not keep Fayza up at night.

What is her priority? Is it to end illiteracy? Is it to articulate a new vision about how Egypt can engage with the world and thrive in the 21st century? Is it to create a positive climate for foreign investors to create jobs desperately needed by young Egyptians?

No, it’s to fall back on that golden oldie — that all of Egypt’s problems are the fault of outsiders who want to destabilise Egypt.

So let’s jail some Western democracy consultants. That will restore Egypt’s dignity.

The New York Times reported from Cairo that the prosecutor’s dossier assembled against the democracy workers — bolstered by Fayza’s testimony — accused these democracy groups of working “in coordination with the CIA,” serving “US and Israeli interests” and inciting “religious tensions between Muslims and Copts”.

Their goal, according to the dossier, was: “Bringing down the ruling regime in Egypt, no matter what it is”, while “pandering to the US Congress, Jewish lobbyists and American public opinion”.

Amazing. What Fayza is saying to all those young Egyptians who marched, protested and died in Tahrir Square in order to gain a voice in their own future is: “You were just the instruments of the CIA, the US Congress, Israel and the Jewish lobby. They are the real forces behind the Egyptian revolution — not brave Egyptians with a will of their own.”

Not surprisingly, some members of the US Congress are talking about cutting off the US$1.3 billion in aid the US gives Egypt’s army if these Americans are thrown in prison. Hold off on that.

We have to be patient and see this for what, one hopes, it really is: Fayza’s last dance.

It is elements of the old regime playing the last cards they have to both undermine the true democratic forces in Egypt and to save themselves by posing as protectors of Egypt’s honour.

Egyptians deserve better than this crowd, which is squandering Egypt’s dwindling resources at a critical time and diverting attention from the real challenge facing the country: giving Egypt’s young people what they so clearly hunger for — a real voice in their own future and the educational tools they need to succeed in the modern world.

That’s where lasting dignity comes from. NYT

Occupy Tahrir Square vs. Occupy America

“We could all temporarily lose sight of who is pulling the strings in this counter-revolution currently playing out in Egypt … but make no mistake, the thousands in Tahrir square will not lose hope nor can they afford to.”

Dr. Ashraf Ezzat

Wounded protester carried to Tahrir square makeshift hospital on Monday 21 November

Egypt, a land embedded in ancient history with an old legacy of oppression and abuse of power, its people are awakening and refusing to yield to any kind of tyranny or autocracy be it of civilian or military authority.

But obviously somebody, and that somebody is unfortunately in command right now, doesn’t seem to get this message.

Some political analyst once said “An autocracy or a tyranny is a far simpler form of social and political organization than a democracy.” … I think he is absolutely right considering the complexity of Egypt’s transitional phase towards what a lot of people hope to be a true and functioning democracy.

I also believe that he would have rephrased his statement had he had the chance to witness the police brutality confronting the occupy movements in the democratic United States of America.

Protesters flee tear gas in Tahrir Squaire on Monday, 21 November.

You could lose your eye sight (hit by a rubber coated bullet in the eye), you could lose your laptop or your briefcase -as in my case- in the protest pandemonium and you could very well lose your life choking on tear gas or get run over by an armored vehicle but one thing you definitely would not lose and that is your self-respect and dignity.

And that is why Egyptians are back in Tahrir square again to regain their lost dignity. They are taking to the streets by the thousands, not only because they are not satisfied with the performance of the interim government or the lack of security and the decline of the economy but mainly because the last couple of days revealed, through the violent confrontation with the police and military, that Mubarak may be gone but his regime is very much still alive and operating.

We all could temporarily lose sight of who is pulling the strings of this counter-revolution currently playing out in Egypt … but make no mistake, the thousands in Tahrir square will not lose hope nor can they afford to.

Quite a few suspects on Egypt’s counter-revolution list; we have the still surviving lords of Mubarak’s regime with their smuggled billions, we have Mubarak-loyal state security apparatus with an army of on the payroll thugs and we have the ambitious Islamists and their Gulf financers eying the biggest chunk of the cake.

We also have the White House and their administration playing the universal patrons of freedom and democracy while backstage stabbing the Arab spring in the heart and of course we have got the Israeli cousins placing all their money on a chaotic Egypt and pushing hard for the friendly and American aided Egypt military to continue running the show in this leading Arab country .

Don’t grumble, the Americans do it too

The generals- all Mubarak appointees- of Egypt military council of armed forces (SCAF), battling thousands of angry protesters who seem adamant on occupying Tahrir square once again, have defended their use of excessive and unjustified force against protesters by drawing an embarrassing comparison between their brutal performance and the tactics of the American police forces who are dealing violently with the Occupy protests all over the United State.

Pepper spray or rubber bullets, two different tactics but both serve the same purpose, to Silence dissent.

American police officer uses pepper spray to move seated Occupy UC Davis protesters while blocking their exit from the school's quad in Davis, Calif.

It seems that the American democracy, with the long legacy of respect for human rights which used to be a prominent model to follow, has lately turned into an inspirational and a credible reference for brutality against civilians and protesters.

But even though the comparison bears some eligibility, the Egyptian police and army forces in their recent barbaric crackdown on the Tahrir revolutionaries and activists has gone way beyond any world competition.

Watch for yourself, only to be sure that the fighters for human freedom and dignity can’t afford to lose hope nor can they stop struggling on behalf of the silent 99%

“The military can rule, only in one case … over our dead bodies” chanted the thousands in Tahrir square as they swarmed the iconic revolution hub to denounce the SCAF reluctance to hand over power to a civilian government.

Tahrir saga 2

Tahrir square on monday night, November 21, 2001 ...The revolution continues.

Egyptians Warn of Strike Over Military Junta

Prominent Egyptian activists have threatened to call for a general strike, should Egypt’s ruling junta fail to transfer power to a democratically-elected government, Press TV reports.


Egyptian activists from the left, Hossamel-Hamalawy, Mohannad, Lilian Wagdy, Gigi Ibrahim and Sarrah.

At a conference in the Egyptian capital city, Cairo, various prominent revolutionary activists called for an end to military rule and denounced the repressive apparatuses redoubled by the military council since it came to power after the ouster of former dictator Hosni Mubarak.

The activists warned that their campaign against the ruling junta will not be restricted to mass protests in Cairo’s iconic Liberation (Tahrir) Square, and they might escalate their movement to a general strike.

“The Supreme Council and the armed forces will not be overthrown by just a mass protest in Tahrir. It will fall by a general strike and what we are doing in Tahrir is only helping the efforts to mobilize the Egyptian people further, once they are closer to the general strike,” said revolutionary activist Hossam el-Hamalawy.

“The supreme Council is part of the old regime … These generals are Mubarak’s generals and they are trying to roll the time back to what it was prior to the revolution. We are here to assert our public’s position that this revolution will continue,” he added.

The activists warned that the junta’s presence in power threatens the road to democracy and the principles of Egypt’s revolution.

“The military council came for a very limited period of time, for transition to the kind of Egypt that the revolution [was aimed for,]” said Hany Shukrallah chief editor of al-Ahram Online.

Egyptian protesters have been rallying since the February 11 revolution, calling on the military council to hand over power to a civilian government.

Egypt is still ruled by a junta ten months after the ouster of the US-backed Mubarak regime.

Click here to watch the video.

History Haunts Egypt’s Revolution

The Egyptian military’s apparent reluctance to relinquish power has raised the spectre of what they did back in 1954


Magdi Abdelhadi / the guardian

Colonel Nasser, Egyptian premier to launch the reign of soldiers in Egypt, right-1954

 Unlike Libya, where the removal of the brutal Gaddafi regime is complete, Egypt has so far managed only to get rid of the Mubaraks and a few around them. The regime itself, with the army and the security apparatus at the centre, remains largely intact. And no more so than in the shape of Scaf – the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – whose members were handpicked by Mubarak and whose chief, Field Marshal Tantawi, is now de facto head of state.

Scaf did play a crucial role in removing Mubarak. The officers maintain they took the side of the revolution but, increasingly, few believe them. There is a growing consensus that their action was motivated by a desire to rescue the regime from impending collapse rather than embracing wholeheartedly the revolution with its far-reaching demands of a regime change.

Does this make Egypt’s revolution failed or incomplete? Possibly yes, if you consider revolutions to be a point in time. But if you believe that a revolution is a more complex process than removing a dictator, then the jury is still out. And the Egyptian revolutionaries cling to that hope.

Inevitably, the process itself is full of conflict, potentially violent, at times erratic, even regressive. The revolutionaries want to press ahead, old regime supporters regrouping and fighting back. This is absolutely necessary to understanding the unfolding drama in Egypt today.

Fear over “what next” has sparked a lot of speculation, based primarily on a reading of Egypt’s recent history and the military’s central role in shaping it. Activists dwell upon a specific episode in 1954 (see below) that proved to be crucial to Egypt’s trajectory during the second half of the 20th century and to this day.

Back in March, Scaf promised to hand power to a civilian administration within six months. Now, seven months later, that prospect is being pushed further into next year, with the election of a civilian president delayed to 2013.

Such delays have fuelled the suspicion that the soldiers want to cling on to power. The sudden appearance of posters with “Tantawi for president” on the streets of Cairo has reinforced fears that the soldiers are up to their old tricks, despite Scaf’s repeated reassurances.

The perceived reluctance of the military to relinquish power has raised the spectre of what they did back in 1954.

Faced with growing demands to return to barracks and to hold a parliamentary election, Colonel Nasser dealt his enemies a mortal blow whose effects have lasted to this day: he reneged on his promise to hold an election and draft a new constitution.

With the support of his allies at the time – the Muslim Brotherhood – Nasser mobilised “the street” against the liberal elite. Historians recount that he paid the leader of the general workers’ union to send his members out on the streets denouncing democracy and the old politicians as colonial stooges.

Back then, the young officers and their Islamist allies knew that an election would hand power back to the old-established political elite against whom they staged their coup, eventually forcing King Farouk to leave the country.

Will the Egyptian military relinquish the legacy of 60 years in power?

Today, Scaf knows that genuine democratic transition would eventually hand the levers of power to a new political class whose exact contours are only partially known. Given the current balance of power, it is likely the new order would be dominated by Islamists. News of the Islamists’ success in Tunisia’s election must have confirmed Scaf’s worst fears.

This is particularly worrying for the top brass, as there are growing calls to end their virtual autonomy (the army runs a business empire) and to be brought under civilian control and public scrutiny.

But parallels with the past are rarely complete. Today, in an ironic reversal of roles, it is the liberals and secular left, united by their fear of the Brotherhood, who are demanding that Scaf delay the transition to a civilian administration. There are signs the officers have listened and are slowing down the process, much to the anger of the Islamists, who have threatened an all-out confrontation with the army if it does not honour its pledge.

Perhaps a far more important difference is that back in the 1950s it was the army in the driving seat. Today, the revolutionaries, despite their frequent squabbling, set the agenda and have succeeded in securing many concessions. Putting Mubarak and sons on trial is foremost among them.

No less important too is that the soldiers of today were all chosen in Mubarak’s image – dull technocrats, uncharismatic and inarticulate. Compare that to the charismatic and fiery Nasser of the Fifties, and you realise that drawing upon the past has its limitations. It may help articulate fears and expectations of a given society, but fails to fully grasp the specificity of the present.

Yet such analogies throw into sharp focus some of the forces that have forged modern Egypt: the military and religion. Put simply, the solider and the imam, the gun and the pulpit. Renegotiating the balance of power between the two on the one hand, and between them and the wider society on the other is likely to continue to shape the nature of conflict in Egypt for some time to come.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Pyramidion’s editorial policy.

Cairo Clashes: The Chronicles of Egypt Copts

“With Egypt military council siding with the Islamist front while dragging its feet on getting the police forces back on the street and properly functioning again, the Christian minority (10% of Egyptian population) remains in limbo.”

Dr. Ashraf Ezzat


Egypt christians (Copts) rallying in front the state TV building at downtown Cairo

Cairo remains tense after clashes left at least 24 people dead and over 270 injured in the worst violence in the Egyptian capital since the country’s revolution in February.

An overnight curfew was lifted on Monday but scores of people have been arrested, and a heavy security presence remained on the streets near Tahrir Square (the iconic landmark that witnessed the glorious days of the Egyptian revolution)

Sunday clashes followed Egypt Christians (Copts) protests over the recent destruction of a church near the southern town of Aswan, but actually there was more to these protests than just another case of demolishing or setting a church on fire (this was the third incidence in a row, of demolishing Coptic churches, in less than 8 months after Mubarak was toppled)

Barely few weeks to the first post-Mubarak parliamentary elections and after months of political debate and turmoil during which it has become obvious that the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultraconservative Islamists (Salafists) are bound to gain the lead in the upcoming vote, thus devouring the biggest chunk of the next parliament seats and tightening their grip over the legislative house.

And since the Islamists front, which obviously struck some sort of a deal with the military, has made no secret of their intention to apply the Islamic Sharia law that could undermine the citizenry of the Copts and reduce them to second class citizens, the Coptic community grew not only insecure but also frightened of the perilous prospects of a gloomy future.

 So the thousands of Copts in Sunday rally were not expressing their anger over the demolition of yet another church, rather they were expressing their fears over threatened belonging and identity and over the failure of the interim government to protect them and their places of worship.

Never throughout the 1400 years of co-habitation with Muslims in Egypt had any church or monastery been attacked before, that’s why this whole new cycle of persecution and indiscrimination against the Christian minority, has been a very alarming precedent for all the Coptic community in Egypt.

What went wrong?

Copts of Egypt are enduring through threatened identity crisis for years now.

Many no doubt wondered what on earth had happened to the celebrated Tahrir revolution of civility, nonviolence and solidarity, as they watched the violent late collisions between Egypt Copts and the soldiers of the supreme council of armed forces (SCAF)

Disturbing scenes certainly, but they were neither unexpected nor totally spontaneous as some like to portray them. In the historical course of most revolutions, moments of exceptional unity and sacrifice do not last long. Once the common enemy is gone, unity gives way to the reassertion of differences and sectarian interests; old coalitions collapse, new solidarities and ideological differences emerge and even plots and schemes by another enemy begin to play out

At such times of political instability, the challenge, of course, is how to handle the old demarcations and emerging differences. In post-Mubarak Egypt, the rise of radical Islamists, security vacuum and sectarian violence have always been the most feared obstacles to a smooth transition to a democratically elected government, whatever that means.

But with SCAF siding with the Islamist front while dragging its feet on getting the police forces back on the Egyptian street and properly functioning again, the Christian minority (10% of Egyptian population) remains in limbo.

Copts in history

Egyptian Christianity, of course, predates Islam – which was brought by the Arab conquest of Egypt in 639 AD, and became the majority religion. Some Egyptians embraced Islam voluntarily for its promise of justice, many did so to avoid jizya taxes, while still others to acquire equal social and political status with Muslims.

By the 10th century, Muslims outnumbered the Christian population, and Arabic replaced the Coptic language as the official governmental language. In the 12th century, the church adopted Arabic as the official clergical language.

"Like or not, we are the true land owners" yelled the protesting copts.

Hardline Copts, in exile and at home, consider themselves a distinct ethnicity – with a unique ancestry, religion and way of life – that are now being treated as a second class population and suggest, moreover, that they are in fact the “true, original Egyptians”

With that hardline concept and reasoning in mind that the Copts never dared or allowed, if you will, to take it outside the church premises, the Coptic protesters in their Sunday march defiantly roared “like or not, we are the true land owners”

This was the first time for Egypt Copts to let go of their prudence and discretion and may be also their long buried hostility.  Frustrated by SCAF lax handling of the violence and frequent targeting of the Coptic churches and since no one was prosecuted or held accountable for the previous two attacks the Copts set off this huge rally with a bit of a grudge against SCAF

Left out

In Egypt today, the key responsibility to ensure sectarian peace lies with the country’s elite (the military council, the intelligentsia, the remnants of Mubarak’s regime, Islamists, and Coptic leaders) … and of course regional and international players, namely Saudi Arabia, the United States and Israel.

As for the intelligentsia and the liberals who have being outweighed by the rise of the well organized and obscenely financed Islamists, thanks to the wahabbist Saudis, are so busy and exhausted trying to secure, by any stretch, the minimum no. of parliament seats even if that meant some secret deal with the Muslim brotherhood, they actually have no time for the Copts’ dossier.

The Coptic leaders, feeling insecure after Mubarak’s stepping down and also feeling left out while the Islamists and the remnants of the old regime split the booty of the transitional period, had no choice but to consider asking, or rather begging for international protection, an option long advocated by hardline Copts in exile especially in the United States and aided by Zionist organizations … and that required nothing more than some bloody confrontation with the Egyptian security forces during which Coptic victims would fall down in front of the whole world.

Judging from the latest statements of SCAF in which they explicitly announced that the council will not approve of a civil president to be the future supreme commander of the military forces and with field marshal Tantawy insinuating that he might consider running for the presidency we can understand SCAF need for more escalation of riots and unrest as a pretext to sort of prolong the interim period for may be another two years during which they could cling to power and shift the country into military rule.

Actually, For the time being, both the United States and Israel prefer the military council being in command than to hand over the rule of Egypt to the Muslim brotherhood with their known anti-Israeli agenda and their unpredictable stance on the camp David peace accords, even if that means turning a blind eye to SCAF security forces getting so out of control as to run over peaceful protesters with their armored vehicles exactly as Mubarak’s security apparatus used to do.

False flag

Alexandria church bombing on the Christmas Eve of 2011

When it comes to Egypt, the Israeli role doesn’t stop at the wishful thinking of an observer but extends into deep and covert involvement. I mean, we all remember the state of bewilderment and confusion that followed Alexandria church bombing last Christmas night that left around 20 dead and 90 wounded, but the classified documents found in the headquarter of the raided state security apparatus proved that the whole thing was a false flag operation pulled to implicate some Gaza-based militants and help Israel tighten its siege on gaza and incriminate Hamas as a terrorist organization.

What is similarly puzzling about the peaceful Coptic march that suddenly turned violent is the testimony of various eyewitnesses that confirmed that plain-clothed unknown assailants managed to infiltrate the rally and on reaching the final destination of the march they were the ones who started throwing stones, Molotov cocktail bottles and even shooting live ammunition at the military security forces taking down two soldiers … and from then on the scene turned into the chaos and violence we have all witnessed.

Obviously those were trained agent provocateurs that easily infiltrated the peaceful Coptic march and orchestrated this whole mess, what consolidates this thesis is the swift and widespread rumor that followed on the internet social media and on the Egyptian street stating that Hillary Clinton, the American secretary of state has declared that the United States is willing to help the Egyptian military council to protect the Christian minority in Egypt.

Of course the next day this breaking news was refuted as false statement … but still this whole thing, regardless of the hidden motives of both the Copts and the Egyptian military, smells so much like a false flag.