A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Is Sharaf Unhappy with his Cabinet?

Al-Masry al-Youm reported this week that Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has asked the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces for permission to replace seven members of his Cabinet he considers working at cross-purposes to the Revolution, and has been turned down. If true — it has not, so far as I know, been confirmed — then it's yet another suggestion that Sharaf has little real power, and the military is calling the shots. Earlier, Sharaf had suggested he supported a new constitution prior to elections, then backpedaled and played down his comment, noting it wasn't up to him to decide.

The fact that SCAF remains for the large part silent on many subjects, at least in public, clearly conceals the degree to which it is pulling the strings. One expects some bumps in the road in any transition, and a certain amount of two-steps-forward-one-step-back, but with the clashes this week in Tahrir, there may be more and more collisions between impatient revolutionary activists and the Army. That could be troubling for the future of the transition. The clashes this week have mostly been with the Central Security Forces, not the Army, but if Sharaf cannot reform the Interior Ministry and its police elements, the honeymoon between the protesters and the Army could be nearing an end.

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