A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Growing Discussion of Egypt's Military's Role

Last week I commented on the fact that Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had held meetings without President Morsi; that and other recent military comments, such as Chef of Staff Sedki Sobhi's comments that the Army will stay out of politics, "but sometimes we can help in this problem, we can play this role if the situation became more complicated," have led to speculation that the Army is sending a subtle message to the political forces on both sides to get their acts together.Now some demonstrators have reportedly appeared at the Unknown Soldier Memorial in Nasr City, demonstrating for military rule and denouncing Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, Abdullah Kamal, a former Mubarak supporter, writes at Al-Arabiya on the Army's changing role, though he doesn't call for direct military rule. Zvi Mazel at The Jerusalem Post rites that
"The Egyptian Army is Making a Comeback," and I'm sure many Israelis would welcome such a comeback.

But be careful what you wish for. It's not a surprise when old Mubarak hands (and I suspect many of the Nasr City demonstrators fit that description) or Israelis wistfully yearn for the days of military rule, but some liberals have even been heard to speculate about an Army move. These were the same people shouting "Down with SCAF" at this time last year. Morsi's mistakes and the Muslim Brotherthood's heavy-handedness have alienated many who voted for Morsi last time, and if the opposition could actually unite and find some sort of inspired leadership it might be able to reduce the Brotherhood's strength in the Parliamentary elections. Hint: threatening to boycott is not the way to do this. Neither is yearning for a coup. Give the young democracy a chance to rectify its own errors and replace those who have failed.

I don't think the Army wants back in power: they weren't that good at it. But their warnings to the quarreling factions should be seen as warnings, not as a potential deus ex machina for removing Morsi.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

A nicely balanced assessment. Worth noting that in Turkey it took at least one military coup against an Islamist leader before the AK Party found a formula for co-existence.