The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Are there rebels in the Egyptian military?

In light of the Springborg Affair — the above video offers some insight into the thinking of the rebel military officers that made an appearance at Tahrir Square and the wider question of the relationship between SCAF and the rank-and-file. In his editorial that caused issue number two of Egypt Independent to be banned (it also carried my op-ed on Kamal Ganzouri), Robert Springborg (a leading expert on the Egyptian military) wrote that there was mounting resentment of Field Marshall Tantawy. The Index of Censorship has more details:

The article, entitled “Is Tantawi reading the public pulse correctly?”, said that Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who leads Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), could share the same fate as former president Hosni Mubarak and find himself in jail as a result of popular discontent with his management of the revolution’s transition process.

“Many in the military resent the reputation of their institution being abused by the Field Marshal and his 19 colleagues on the SCAF … the present rumblings of discontent among junior officers, Chief of Staff General Sami Anan’s greater popularity than the Field Marshal in the military and among Egyptians as a whole, and intensified pressure from the US could all result in the Field Marshal sharing President Mubarak’s fate,” Dr Springborg wrote in the
original version of the article.

Dr Springborg concluded by saying that “discontented officers not in the SCAF might decide that a coup within the coup would be the best way to save the honour of the country and their institution.”

The video above is striking not only because the officer interviewed suggests there is widespread frustration in the ranks of the military, but even makes positive mentions of the rebel Syrian army.