For most of his year in power, President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood thought they had tamed Egypt’s military, forcing out top generals and reaching a deal with their successors that protected the armed forces from civilian oversight.
That deal collapsed this week. With tanks and soldiers in the streets and around the presidential palace, the military’s top officer, Gen. Abdul-Fattah El-Sissi, did not even utter Morsi’s name as he announced that the president had been deposed and the constitution suspended.
And suddenly, Morsi, like his immediate predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, discovered the enduring fact that the military looks out for itself above all else. It is not ideological, but it is intensely politicized.
While justifying its intervention in politics as serving the will of the people, the military has never been a force for democracy.
It has one primary objective, analysts said: preserving national stability and its untouchable realm of privilege within the Egyptian state.
The face of that military was Sissi, a rakish officer, his chest full of medals, a beret pulled tight over his forehead, as he grasped a lectern with both hands and addressed his nation, insisting that the goal was to restore national unity. He played down the military’s dominance as he installed a caretaker leader.
But his words of reconciliation and healing could not alter the cold reality of the moment. The military, for the second time in two and a half years, was ousting the nation’s civilian leader — but this time that leader had been elected, freely and fairly.
The removal underlined the armed forces’ status as Egypt’s most powerful institution since the coup six decades ago that toppled King Farouq and led to the rise of Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Analysts said the opposition was naïve in cheering the military’s return to power as a step in the post-revolutionary transition to democracy. NYT