Friday, November 6, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: A Soft Military Coup could Surface in Egypt

by David Bedein

A report to the United States Congress warns that Egypt’s military could stage a coup to prevent the transition of power by President Hosni Mubarak to his 46-year-old son, Gamal.

The Congressional Research Service has found the likelihood of Gamal becoming Egypt’s
next president has alarmed the military as well as the Islamic-led

“If such a situation were to occur, many observers wonder whether the
military and security establishment would remain in their barracks or
re-enter politics to establish order,” the report, titled “Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations,” said.

The report was released as Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party
(NDP), intensified efforts to prepare Gamal for succession. Senior officials,
including Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, have already called for Gamal to be
groomed as Egypt’s next president.

The 81-year-old Mubarak, president since 1981 and said to be in declining health, has not ruled out a re-election bid in 2011. The report, 
however, said Gamal, the No. 2 figure in the NDP, could emerge as the next
 candidate for presidency, while retaining his rival, Maj. Gen. Omar Suleiman, as intelligence chief.

Mr. Suleiman has been raised as a candidate to succeed Mr. Mubarak. Arab League
secretary-general Amr Moussa was also said to be considering running for

“However, at age 73, it is unlikely that Mr. Suleiman, should he become
president, would rule for a long period of time,” the report said.
“Furthermore, as head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, Mr. Suleiman
would need to retire from military service since active-duty military
officers are not allowed membership in political parties. Mr. Suleiman is
currently engaged in a number of sensitive diplomatic operations and is one of Mr. Mubarak’s closest confidants, making his departure from
military service unlikely.”

Another scenario was that of a military takeover to prevent a Gamal

The Congressional Research Service’s report, authored by Jeremy Sharp and dated Sept. 2, said the
elder Mubarak has banned military officers from NDP’s Supreme Council.

“An Egyptian military officer carries out a soft coup, in which constitutional proceedings are set aside and civilian elites quietly
acquiesce to the military’s re-assertion of power,” the report said.

Some U.S. analysts have raised the scenario of a military coup. Michele Dunne, a researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has discussed the prospect of the General Staff helping to install a military officer as president.

Mr. Sharp said that many experts have deemed Egypt’s political system stable and discount a coup. The report also said the student clashes with the Iranian
regime in wake of a controversial presidential election in June could
signal a similar scenario in Egypt.

“Some analysts fear that a less-than-smooth transition of power could
open the door for the Muslim Brotherhood to mobilize its supporters and
demand an Islamist government,” the report said.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

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