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article imageEgypt: Conflict brewing between SCAF and Muslim Brotherhood

By Ken Hanly     Jul 15, 2012 in Politics
Cairo - The Muslim Brotherhood is arguably the most powerful group challenging the ruling military council in Egypt. Field Marshal Tantawi the head of SCAF(Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) is making it clear that the generals are in command.
Field Marshall Tantawi issued a thinly veiled warning to the Muslim Brotherhood. Tantawi said:“Egypt will never fall. It belongs to all Egyptians and not to a certain group — the armed forces will not allow it,” “The armed forces will not allow anyone, especially those pushed from outside, to distract it from its role as the protector of Egypt,” . “The army will never commit treason and will continue to perform its duties until Egypt reaches the shores of safety.” The military members of SCAF are the real rulers of Egypt. Even before the president was elected SCAF had issued a declaration giving itself sweeping powers as reported by the BBC.... the constitutional declaration issued by the Scaf effectively gives it legislative powers, control over the budget and over who writes the permanent constitution .... It also strips the president of any authority over the army.
The army projects itself as the protector of Egyptians. During the revolution the army sometimes intervened to protect protesters from security forces and thugs. However, it was the army who tried those arrested in military tribunals. It was also the army who helped ensure that Mubarak was kept in power for years.
Recently elected president Mohamed Morsi won a narrow victory over his opponent Ahmed Shafiq who was favored by the generals. He is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood has a long history in Egypt. The organization has a strong base partly due to its charitable work among the poor. The group won the most seats in recent parliamentary elections.
When the Egyptian Consitutional Court ruled that certain aspects of the elections were illegal SCAF dissolved the parliament. The first challenge to the military occurred when President Morsi convened the parliament even though it was dissolved. This was a direct challenge to the military. However, the military allowed the parliament to meet briefly and the parliament claimed that it met only to decide how to implement the decision of the Constitutional Court. This all seems to be a delicate dance with the partners agreeing beforehand what was acceptable in the way of challenges.
Tantawi's rhetoric may also be part of the same script. It will allay fears that the Brotherhood will turn Egypt into a strict Islamic state. Many Egyptians and also westerners fear this. Morsi has tried to allay those fears. Tantawi has helped allay those fears by his warning and in doing so makes Morsi more acceptable as president.
More about Egypt, Muslim brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi, SCAF
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