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Egyptian Military Seeking Greater Control
July 20, 2011

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Conflict between the ruling military council and the protesters in the streets continues to grow in Egypt.

Protesters, impatient with what they perceive to be the slow pace of reform, have taken to Tahrir Square and other public places in growing numbers in recent weeks, amid calls for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to continue on the path to true democratic government. But the ruling generals have other ideas in mind, namely a process by which they would remain outside the jurisdiction of the newly elected president. That sort of power would give the military the power to intervene on the side protesters against the president, as happened in February, when the army sided with the Tahrir Square protesters against Mubarak; but the reverse is also true, in that a president elected by a majority of the Egyptian voters might very well see his role as commander-in-chief superseded by the generals in charge of the nation's armed forces. Indeed, one of the generals recently suggested that the military should have the role, in a post-Mubarak Egypt, of "guaranteeing supra-constitutional principles." 

In a sense, the military has played a major role in running the country since 1952. Mubarak himself took over as president after the assassination of Anwar Sadat, and both of those leaders were heavily dependent on military advisers and support to keep them in power.

This marks a sharp divide between the military and the people on the streets. Both groups were united in their opposition to Mubarak once it became clear that the groundswell wasn't going to dissipate. In fact, the military's refusing to fire on protesters — as has been the case in Bahrain, Libya, Syria, and Yemen — was a key part of the revolution that brought down Mubarak.

suggesting that parliamentary elections, long scheduled for September, might be pushed back a further two months because of the scope of the changes required in the political landscape. Although some protesters have voiced their opposition to such a delay, others — namely those belonging to political parties other than the ruling DNP and the Muslim Brotherhood — would probably welcome a delay because it gives them more time to solidify their own fledging political parties.



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