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15
Feb
2011

The Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces Under Field Marshal Tantawi: A Recipe for Revolution or More of the Same?


Egypt is ruled today by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, under the leadership of Field Marshal Muhammad Hussein Tantawi. The country is now ruled under military law, something which the masses did not expect and which does not fit in with the idea of democratic reform.

WikiLeaks documents describe the Egyptian military as a parallel economy, a kind of “Military Inc.” Military-owned companies, often run by retired generals, are active in water, olive oil, cement, construction (building roads and airports), hotel and gasoline industries. The military produces televisions and milk and bread.

Egypt has become a firm ally of the U.S. since the end of the 1970s, assisting it in many facets of its anti-terrorist policy. Tantawi himself and his troops fought alongside American troops in Operation Desert Shield in Iraq in 1990.

At 76, Tantawi is no revolutionary. He and his colleagues have a lot to lose if they accede to actual demands for change. A transformation of the regime into a civilian democratic regime will not be viable for the military, and he will likely try his best to maintain the advantages his class has always enjoyed.

In the strategic field, it seems that Tantawi will remain loyal to Egypt’s American ally, even though he may have to rethink the totality of the country’s commitment in view of the behavior of the U.S. administration toward Mubarak.

Read the full issue brief

About Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah

Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, a special analyst for the Middle East at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.
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