Last Updated: Mon Nov 28, 2011 09:39 am (KSA) 06:39 am (GMT)

Field Marshal Tantawi between the youth and the ‘Brotherhood’

Abdul Rahman al-Rashed

For the first time in Egypt, the military council is in confrontation with the youth. There are no more calls for trials, change of prime ministers or election vows. The main demand is now the end of military rule and the transfer of power to a civilian government. Although it is a logical and expected demand, the really confusing question is why do the protesters target the military council with only a few days left before the parliamentary election, which was one of the demands of the revolution?

First we must properly examine the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF). It has two defects: the first is that it doesn't have a specific popular political project, and the second is that it has neither a strong character nor an influencing speech. Even the prime ministers, including Kamal al-Ganzouri, have weak personalities.

It became clear, early enough, that the military council was unable to transfer power. The council failed to even become 'the revolution's police.' Egypt, which has always been fond of leaderships, did not see any charismatic character, with attractive speeches, in the military leaders. At the time when all revolutions were breing managed by attractive speeches, the council seemed to include professional officers with no political attraction at all.

I wrote about this few months ago in an attempt to analyze the reasons behind the inability of the SCAF. The council has eventually moved to put a proper political program into place, which would probably end former president Hosni Mubarak's era and write down a new history for Egypt. However, when it was about to get out of the dark tunnel, the youth suddenly returned to their track, namely Tahrir Square, urging the SCAF to step aside and transfer power to civilians. Accordingly, many people got confused and wondered why now and that too just a few days before the election?

The only logical explanation to me is that the powers that are unlikely to win the elections, such as the youth, want to change the power game by forcing the military council out and forming a transitional civilian council. This way they will participate and remain in the game. They believe they should have a saying because they are the protesters who led the revolution. This also, explains why the Muslim Brotherhood, the biggest and most organized opposition group, differs this time with the protesters and agrees with the military council for the first time. On the contrary to the youth, the Brotherhood has a bigger chance of winning the elections; they might win majority in the parliament, then they would create the new constitution and accordingly run for next presidential elections. The Islamists want the parliamentary elections first, but the youth want to remove the military first, while the generals are unable to lead public opinion.

Theoretically, it is in the benefit of the weaker and less organized powers, such as the youth coalitions and some national parties, that the military council remain in power as a guardian to the constitution. But it seems that the military council has failed to promote its role. The latest confrontations with the youth in Tahrir Square further complicated the issue, with the fall of many victims, thus reminding people of the confrontations with the security forces in the early days of the uprising against Mubarak. I believe it is getting more serious because the target today is the Field Marshal himself, and the members of the military council, which means it is going to be a second revolution in less than a year.


The writer is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. The article was published in the London-based Asharq al-Awsat on Nov. 27, 2011 and translated by Abeer Tayel.

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