Monday, February 14, 2011

Now, the Egyptian People Wonder how the Egyptian Military Will Govern



Not surprisingly, after the overthrow of the Mubarak government, the Egyptian people are starting to wonder the full intent how the military will govern. In the old adage, "you break it, you buy it." The Egyptian people have no idea what they stirred up. They removed Mubarak from power and allowed Mubarak's general and best friend to take over. The likelihood for a nice transition will be innocuous at first, but let's wait and see six months from now. Throughout history, military leaders having absolute power will eventually lead to absolute corruption.

(The Independent) Two days after millions of Egyptians won their revolution against the regime of Hosni Mubarak, the country's army – led by Mubarak's lifelong friend, General Mohamed el-Tantawi – further consolidated its power over Egypt yesterday, dissolving parliament and suspending the constitution. As they did so, the prime minister appointed by Mubarak, ex-General Ahmed Shafiq, told Egyptians that his first priorities were "peace and security" to prevent "chaos and disorder" – the very slogan uttered so often by the despised ex-president. Plus ├ža change?

In their desperation to honour the 'military council's' promise of Cairo-back-to-normal, hundreds of Egyptian troops – many unarmed – appeared in Tahrir Square to urge the remaining protesters to leave the encampment they had occupied for 20 days. At first the crowd greeted them as friends, offering them food and water. Military policemen in red berets, again without weapons, emerged to control traffic. But then a young officer began lashing demonstrators with a cane – old habits die hard in young men wearing uniforms – and for a moment there was a miniature replay of the fury visited upon the state security police here on 28 January.

It reflected a growing concern among those who overthrew Mubarak that the fruits of their victory may be gobbled up by an army largely composed of generals who achieved their power and privilege under Mubarak himself. No-one objects to the dissolution of parliament since Mubarak's assembly elections last year – and all other years -- were so transparently fraudulent. But the 'military council' gave no indication of the date for the free and fair elections which Egyptians believed they had been promised.

But a clear divergence is emerging between the demands of the young men and women who brought down the Mubarak regime and the concessions – if that is what they are – that the army appears willing to grant them. A small rally at the side of Tahrir Square yesterday held up a series of demands which included the suspension of Mubarak's old emergency law and freedom for political prisoners. The army has promised to drop the emergency legislation "at the right opportunity", but as long as it remains in force, it gives the military as much power to ban all protests and demonstrations as Mubarak possessed; which is one reason why those little battles broke out between the army and the people in the square yesterday.

The suspension of the constitution – a document which the millions of demonstrators anyway regarded as a laissez-passer for presidential dictatorship – left most Egyptians unmoved. And the army, having received the fulsome thanks of Israel for promising to honour the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, announced that it would hold power for only six months; no word, though, on whether they could renew their military rule after that date.