A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Springborg on What the Officer Corps is Thinking

The fact that Army units from Egypt's Republican Guard ultimately separated the combatantsat the Presidential Palace last night marked the first involvement of the Armed Forces as opposed to the Central Security Forces from the Interior Ministry) marks the first h8gh-visibility military presence since Morsi's move to retire the high command in August, and it raises a question I raised at the end of my post last night. It also maikes even more timely a question  I raised at the end of my post last nght: can Morsi count on the Army's loyalty in the current crisis

My old friend Bob Springborg, who has been watchiing Egypt's kmilitary in politics as long as I have and is currently at the US Naval Postgraduate School, had a piece in the Egypt Independent last week that is even more timely now: "The View From the Officers' Club.:" Though written before the latest round of violence, it is particularly timely now. An excerpt:
The key question now is: Might the military act a third time? Might key officers now perceive Morsy’s and the Muslim Brotherhood’s aggrandizement of power as threatening the stability and even viability of the state, and possibly the interests of the military as well?
The short answer is “maybe.”
Morsy is obviously preoccupied with this question, as indicated by his handling of the military before and after turning the tables on the SCAF in August. Sensing the military’s dissatisfaction with Tantawi and former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Sami Anan, he reached out to officers he thought would support his intended purge.
Key among them was General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whose suitability rested upon his background in military intelligence, his comparative youth and his sympathy for Islamism.
He had his fingers on the political pulse of the officer corps. As a 57-year-old, he was a full generation younger than Tantawi, but also sufficiently senior so as not to require the hasty retirements of hundreds of older officers.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, Sisi openly professed Islamist orientations, as suggested by some media accounts accusing him of being a Brotherhood mole inside the SCAF. Whether this allegation is true or not is unknown, but his open support for Islamist conceptions of government is a matter of public record.
Do read the whole th8ng. In brief, he's not sure the whole officer corps is fully on board along with Sisi. I don't think anyone knows for sure what they're thinking, but I respect Bob's comments here,

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