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Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem
The Military Council and the Political Chaos in Egypt
The current events in Egypt reflect a genuine spat between the military council and the United States about the future of Egypt after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak’s regime. The US wants the political life to be under civilian control and the military to remain in their barracks to act as a safety valve and a guardian over the kufr values and “civil state”. The military, therefore, does not have the right to interfere in public affairs unless the interests of the United States are threatened. These interests are linked with the manner in which the country is going to be governed and how the Israel- Egypt peace treaty is going to be secured. To accomplish these objectives, America does not mind retaining some privileges for the military leaders. However, the military council continues to act in the way it used to before the “25 Feb Revolution”. Like the leaders of the Algerian military, the military council attempts to keep wielding power in public affairs and domestic politics from behind the scenes. It did not understand the nature of the plans of the new phase, which the United States has been executing since the so called ‘Arab Spring was ignited in the region. America is working towards satisfying the desire of the people to rule themselves by themselves, but according to the kufr thoughts and rules, without any interference by the military and without an explicit projection of the “Islamic” rulers’ collaboration with America. The clearest explanation of this conflict was indicated by the former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter. After meeting with Field Marshal Muhammad Hussein Tantawi and other members of the military council last month, Carter expressed his doubts about the readiness of the military leaders to handover all authority to the newly elected parliament or the constitutional assembly that is expected to be chosen. In his conversation with the military rulers, Carter said, they repeatedly insisted that they foresaw only: “harmonious agreement” between the military and elected civilians. “When I say, ‘Suppose there is a strong difference of opinion, how will it be resolved?’ that always kind of creates a quandary,” he said. Still, Carter said he was optimistic that the outcome of negotiations would nonetheless constitute a major step towards what is called the civilian democracy. “I think it is probably going to be inevitable, and I don’t think it is going to be detrimental for the military to retain some special status,” he said.After two days of the passing of the events, Muhammad al-Baradei announced on 14 January his withdrawal from the presidential race in Egypt. He explained the reason behind his decision, “The framework of a real democratic regime has not been established yet. The former regime is still there,” he said. The violent actions escalated in Egypt after Carter’s deliberations and al-Baradei’s withdrawal, as protestors returned to Tahrir Square and besieged the Ministry of Interior that left many injured and others dead following a brutal crackdown of these demonstrations by the central security and other military forces. However, the Port Said atrocity, which took place early in this month after a football match between al-Ahli and al- Port Saidi, was the tragic event that revealed the plan of the military council. This plan aims at spreading fear and chaos in the country to force the people to choose either stability maintained by the military, or chaos.
The military escalated the rift with America's activists, as it limited their activities and their interference in the political life. A total of 44 people were put on trial, including 19 Americans. They were accused of funding the civil-society groups illegally. Furthermore, the military council raided many NGOs including Washington-based International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute, and Freedom House. As a result, 41 members of Congress sent a letter to the leader of Egypt’s military council, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, condemning severely the raids on the NGOs by the security forces and for putting a number of people on trail. In their letter, the members of the Congress said, “The U.S. should withhold certification until these fundamental human rights are protected, which regrettably seems impossible under the present circumstances,” They also sent letters to the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, urging them to take severe actions.
The U.S administration did not take long to support the members of the Congress in their “uprising” against the military council. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton warned that Washington may reconsider the aid the U.S gives to Egypt if the military assault against the NGOs continued. In his phone call with Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged the leader of the military council to lift the travel ban on American personnel who were accused of funding the activists in Egypt.
During the discussions about the U.S military aid to Egypt in Congress, the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, Patrick Leahy, D-Vt, did not feel ashamed to “send a clear message to the Egyptian military that the days of blank cheques are over. We value the relationship and will provide substantial amounts of aid, but not unconditionally,” Patrick Leahy said that the $1.3 billion military aid the U.S. gives Cairo annually is in jeopardy, and he hoped that the Egyptian authorities realized how risky was their position.
The military council tried to modify its position by sending a military delegation to Washington to discuss the U.S position on the NGOs crisis in Egypt. The delegation also had to discuss the new conditions that were imposed by Congress on the U.S administration concerning the military aid. In his assessment, the Army Chief of Staff and Deputy of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant-General Sami Anan, said that the armed forces did not seek power. He called the Egyptian people to work and not to be affected by rumors and lies which delayed the construction process. He added that the increasing pressure on the military council encouraged the U.S. to use its tools, represented by the political and youth movements, to stir up street protests against the military forces.
The objections of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Al-Nour Party, the winners of the parliamentary elections, against public strikes and civil disobedience were not to avoid more economic deterioration and instability. On the contrary, they acted in accordance with the implicit “harmonious” agreements with the Military Council such as the military agrees to withdraw to its barracks on condition of constitutional guarantees including guaranteeing the military’s immunity, which means that some officers would not be put on trial for the crimes they have committed. Moreover, according to these agreements, the military would have some autonomy from the presidential establishment. The talk among the members of Muslim Brotherhood indicates this intention through the calls for “a safe withdrawal of the military.”
The United States succeeded in achieving its main objective in Egypt. It renewed secularism by dressing it in an Islamic cloak by colluding with the leaders of the Islamist trends, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. The party’s deal with the military council was exploited by the U.S which used it to negatively affect the popularity of the Islamic movements, especially after they won the parliamentary elections in a landslide, and to show that although these movements claim to safeguard the values, they are interested in grabbing power in Egypt as much as the other parties. This was crystal-clear when the Muslim Brotherhood tried to strengthen the position of the traditional secular movements after they had been on the verge of collapsing after the latest elections. The U.S. is keen on making the youth and secular movements as preferred partners who are deemed closest to the street and closest to its political and economic demands. It is working on giving these trends, in addition to the Christian ones, a significant role. Consequently, the Muslim Brotherhood and other parties will depend on them to justify their help and agreement in the process of renewing secularism in Egypt.
22 Rabi’ al-Awwal 1433h
14 February 2012