Last Updated: Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:09 pm (KSA) 09:09 am (GMT)

Did the Brotherhood want to depose Tantawi?

Abdullah Iskandar

The Egyptians will not be deciding on the nature of the upcoming political system in their country through the current voting process. The Military Council succeeded in imposing the road map it had come up with ever since it took over power in February 2011in addition to imposing the agenda of deadlines including the first constitutional amendment referendum, the legislative and the presidential elections. However, none of these steps produced any certainties in any of the issues at hand.

The council is currently looking into the possibility of making a new constitutional announcement. This implies that the constitutional referendum was deficient. In addition, the council is looking into the formation of a founding committee in order to come up with a permanent constitution. The parliament had already formed a similar committee. The entire country had been busy for months with the parliamentary elections. However, this resulting parliament has been dissolved through a legislative order.

In other words, everything that was decided or agreed upon ever since the stepping down of President Hosni Mubarak is being revisited. Thus, the country is now in a pending state. Some sides that are affiliated to the Military Council are saying that the latter will be settling this state prior to the announcement of presidential elections’ winner, i.e. before June 21st.

The Military Council might be the one to bear the responsibility of the current situation since the council had reiterated on several occasions that it is entrusted with the country’s higher interest; that it is the only party with the right to bear this responsibility; and that any subsequent constitutional arrangements must take this matter into consideration. Some opponents of the council even criticized it by saying that the army generals are behaving as if the revolution never was, especially when it comes to the constitution and to the decision making process.

On the other hand, the Military Council could have acted the way it did in order to prevent political Islam from completely controlling the country especially the Muslim Brotherhood that seemed to be the main beneficiary from Mubarak’s stepping down and the ensuing political change. The Brotherhood offered all the possible reasons leading to believe that this is their actual goal: they first hesitated to join the protest movement and ended up joining it following the toppling of Mubarak. Then, they broke all their promises pertaining to the role that they wanted to play on the new political map. If such behavior is a form of political tactic, then the Brotherhood made a major mistake by issuing the political deposition law after having felt that they have unlimited power through their control over the dissolved parliament.

Through this law, the Brotherhood aimed at alienating the symbols of the former regime, including General Omar Suleiman as a first step, followed by General Ahmad Shafiq. The law prevents anyone who has held a prominent post during the Mubarak era from accessing power posts in the state. However, the law also includes the party that has been in charge in the country since the toppling of the former president, i.e. the Military Council, namely its head, General Hussein Tantawi, the current council’s head and the minister of defense and war during the Mubarak era.

Even if no one openly stated that this law also applies to Tantawi, some sides within the council must have realized that this law aims at adversely affecting the council’s head and its legitimacy and role. The response came in the form of tossing Shafiq in the presidential race as a way to reject this law; and dissolving the parliament as a message to the Brotherhood indicating that there are red lines not to be crossed.

It seems that some Brotherhood officials understood this message by announcing that they respect the double-barreled decision of the judiciary: dissolving the council; and maintaining Shafiq. But will this understanding steer the Brotherhood’s actions in the upcoming phase? Will they abide by the map that has been set by the council or will they re-attempt to seize power on the expenses of the council? Will they risk a direct confrontation with the council this time while the latter remains the legitimate power in the country? Will they fall back into their former state in the Mubarak era and go back to being the ‘banned organization?’

The writer is a prominent columnist. The article was published in Dar Al Hayat on June. 17, 2012

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