Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
Thursday 16 August 2012
Last Update 16 August 2012 7:00 pm
THE timing and speed with which President Muhammad Mursi eliminated five leaders of the Egyptian military council was surprising. Mursi had hardly been in power for 40 days when he sacked the leading members of the military council.
No doubt that the inmates of the Turrah prison, where symbols of the previous regime are held, must be very happy to hear that Field Marshal Muhammad Hussein Tantawi, minister of defense and the council’s chairman, and Maj. Gen. Sami Anan, the army chief of staff, were both sacked.
The imprisoned leaders of Hosni Mubarak’s regime believe that Tantawi sold them out during the days of the revolution and that he is now drinking from the same cup after the first elected president turned his back on him.
Mursi, who has been dubbed as weak and described as a shadow to the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, proved he was stronger than he had appeared to be. His recent decisions have silenced many of his critics either out of fear or out of admiration.
The sacking of five top army generals is indeed shocking. Prior to that, Mursi had let go the chief of intelligence. This show of strength has made the ruling of Egypt a very difficult task. President Mursi and his government are now directly accountable to their people for any shortcoming.
The pretexts they used to blame the military council for standing in the way of their decisions are no longer valid.
There is no military council, central security or "filoul" (supporters of the defunct regime) to blame for failures in issues concerning food, security and freedom.
One of the challenges that Mursi and his government are facing is the recommendation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to devalue the Egyptian pound which will automatically mean a reduction of the purchasing power of the local currency.
As I wrote after his election, Mursi was the choice of the majority of the Egyptian people. We have to accept this fact and deal with it during his entire tenure until the next round of the presidential elections when the Egyptian people will once again choose their president.
I cannot claim to know the new Minister of Defense in Egypt, Gen. Abdul Fattah Al-Seesi. I did, however, meet him a few months back when he was chief of the Military Intelligence during a visit to Egypt in which I held talks with a number of political leaders from all sectors including Nassirites, Muslim Brotherhood and others. Because of their military education, most of the graduates of the military establishment were reserve when it came to expressing views and ideas. We talked for about three hours but I did not detect any inclination on his part to be involved in politics nor did I pick up any clear-cut stance vis-à-vis the issues which were being discussed in Egypt at the time.
The military page on Facebook clearly stated that the military council was no longer interested in politics and that it had abandoned the political role it was assigned to after the revolution. The council said it would go back to the work it knows best, which is protecting the country and defending it against foreign enemies.
Accordingly, a legitimate question arises: Have the two phases of the revolution and the transition to civil rule been completed?
It is difficult to accept that Tahrir Square as a place, a concept and a culture, will abandon opposition. But who knows. The past 18 months (since the revolution broke out in January 2011) might have depleted the energy of protest and opposition.