Tag Archives: Omar Suleiman

Egypt Under Military Control – Now What?

It is tempting to rush to judgment about the role the Egyptian military will play if Mubarak really does leave. The truth is that even the senior military now at the top of the power structure under Mubarak almost certainly have no clear idea of what happens next, and it will be days before anyone know how well the transition will function, who goes and who stays, and how stable the result really is. Center for Strategic and International Studies published the following analysis just hours before the Egyptian president announced his resignation.

“Whatever new government comes to power has less than a 50 percent chance of surviving for two years. Patience is an Egyptian virtue, but the Egyptian people (and the military) are unlikely to tolerate failed politics, failed governance, and token progress.”

Center for Strategic and International Studies

There are, however, some broad things than can be said about the Egyptian military. There is no ONE military, and a careful distinction needs to be made between the real military that total around 470,000 personnel, and are under the Ministry of Defense. Others in uniform include the 325,000 personnel in the Central Security Services and 60,000 in National Guard, that are under the Ministry of the Interior.

These latter forces are the primary source of the oppression documented in the annual US State Department human rights report, and of the growing authoritarianism and abuses that Egyptians are now protesting.

While the Egyptian military may well be the ultimate power brokers in a time of major political upheaval, they also are a military force and not– as is the case in Algeria — the de facto government. They do not dominate the economy or civil government, and most — like other Egyptians — have been subject to surveillance by Egypt‘s oppressive intelligence services.

These services themselves present real question about Egypt’s future power structure.

The key element include the Mukhabarat al-Aama Al-Mukhabarat al-‘Ammah (General Intelligence and Security Service); Mukhabarat el-Khabeya (Military Intelligence Service); Mubahath el-Dawla; (General Directorate of State Security Investigations) and Jihaz Amn al Daoula (State Security Service).

They also are as divided as the military security services. General Intelligence reports to  the presidency; Military Intelligence to the Ministry of Defense; and the General Directorate for State Security Investigations is directly controlled by the Minister of Interior.

More broadly, the Egyptian military  are not an isolated elite. They are a citizen army. Most actual soldiers are conscript and many junior officers are graduates who serve short tours or who join the military because it is the only job available. Mid level officers are usually career professional that are not part of the political side of the military.

They have won considerable public respect and support over the years, but they also have lost status as a new class of businessmen and profiteers has acquired great wealth and the disparities income have growth. Most can now buy less by way of housing, education for the children, and the key elements of middle class living than in the past.

Some do have every reason to be loyal to the status quo.

There are significant numbers of retired senor military officers in Mubarak’s inner circle who have been given sinecures and senior posts in the civil government and state industries, and who will want to continue to benefit from the regime. But the bulk of even senior the officers who leave don’t enjoy these privileges.

Moreover, the Egyptian military are military is stove-piped by branch and service, and most senior officers are in career paths that do not give them  have special access to to those who in Mubarak’s close circle.

Those who do become part of  Mubarak “loyalists”have acquired money and status, but further even senior officers are outside the circle, the more they rely on their military pay. and the more reason they have to be loyal to the nation and not the leader.

These distinctions also help explain why most of military retain so much popular respect. It is also important to understand that democracy is less important to most Egyptians than material benefits, jobs, decent education, effective government services, ending corruption and favoritism, and emphasizing the concept of justice in ways that provide security and honest police and courts.

People aren’t looking for a vote as much as they want to stop the economic, political and social injustice — a search compounded by the fact Islam place so much emphasis on justice in every aspect of life and governance.

The loudest and most Western voices in the square do not always speak for the Egyptian people, and practical compromise with around programs that provide justice and benefits may be easier for both the military and the people than some realize.

At the same time, the military’s top priority is to preserve the nation and maintain order and limit chaos or upheaval.

They are far less likely to use torture or violence than the forces under Ministry of Interior as the entire command ethic of the professional military is the nation, not the leader, and military discipline puts real restraints on their actions. However, there also are real limits to their tolerance.

They will not accept a breakdown of the government or economy. They will not accept paralysis or demonstrations that become violent, although they will not support a new wave of repression. Whomever is perceived as the most radically violent will tend to lose.

The good news is that Egyptians as a whole tend to be pragmatic and not violent. (And they have the best political jokes around.)

There are, however, serious legal barriers that need to be addressed, that will make life difficult for both the military and the people unless pragmatism takes priority over formal legal constraints.

If Mubarak resigns, the new government have just 60 days to hold an election. Its formal leader will come from a corrupt parliament. There will still be open-ended emergency laws that allow opened-ended abuses.

There also are senior military and ex-military in government and around Mubarak that occupy key posts and have a vested interest in blocking reform.

Lieutenant-General Omar Suleiman

These include top military and ex-military: Lieutenant-General Omar Suleiman, the former head of the military intelligence service and now Vice-President; Ahmed Shafik, a former air force commander and now Prime Minister , and Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the Defence Minister, the new deputy premier. they are all part of the Mubarak cadre.

None are symbols of progress and change and all also have little real political experience, no knowledge of reform, and little experience in kind of effective civil governance and economic reform Egypt will now need.

Moreover, both the military and all of Egypt’s civil leaders  will suffer from the legacy of a political system where any opposition has been suppressed and sidelined for some 30 years. No political parties have the level of experience in cooperation and governance to rapidly participate in an election or show they can govern.

The largest opposition party, the Muslim Brotherhood, is led a by a gerontocracy and deeply divided between traditionalist and reformers, with extremists at the margins.

The other parties are untried, although they have some bright intellectuals, and proven businessmen.

This is why Obama administration is right in trying to find a transition that will provide the time needed to make the changes that will allow an effective political process to emerge, suspend the emergency law and create a structure where people can run and campaign.

It is seeking to persuade the regime may conclude t to accept a meaningful reform plan, in part because there is no way the regime can go back to the old system and a rigged September election could create a far worse crisis and a far higher prospect of lasting instability.

Moreover, regime change is only part of the story — for the military and the Egyptian people: No matter who emerges as the post-Mubarak leader, the economic and demographic pressures that have driven this uprising are going to remain for at least several years.

This uprising takes place in the cauldron or world economic collapse.

As in a disturbingly growing number of places throughout the world, in Egypt there are food spikes, fuel spikes, recession, a huge young population, weak job market, growing disparity of income.

The UN has declared major food shortages throughout the world, and the future is uncertain — particularly given the drought in China.

In Egypt, many  live pretty  to subsistence.

If it were not for food aid and subsidies they wouldn’t survive at all. For the rest, there are few new jobs here that offer the growing jobless population any employment, much less jobs with status.

This may well mean that whatever new government comes to power has less than a 50 percent chance of surviving for two years. Patience is an Egyptian virtue, but the Egyptian people (and the military) are unlikely to tolerate failed politics, failed governance, and token progress.

This, in turn, poses a long-term challenge for the US that goes far beyond who in the military has power in the first phase of change following Mubarak’s departure.

Egypt controls a critical global trade route in the Suez Canal. The security of the Canal and its pipeline have a major impact on energy prices and the world economy.

Egypt is  key to the Arab-Israeli peace and stability in the region, US military overflights and staging, and the struggle against extremism.

In short, Egypt is a vital US national security interest — in fact, a far more vital interest than Afghanistan or Pakistan.

CSIS, February 10, 2011.

Comment by US President Barack Obama.

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Ending The Egyptian Revolution; Murbarak Hand Over Power To Military

President Hosni Mubarak on Friday evening yielded to Egypt ’s 18-day youth revolution, handing over power to the military, in the second ouster of an Arab leader by an overwhelming wave of popular upheaval sweeping the Middle East.

As Tahrir Square, the nerve-center of the revolt that started less than three weeks ago, exploded into massive chants of “He gave up, he gave up” and drivers sounded their horns in a festive tune across Cairo’s streets, the region’s largest country and one of its heavyweights bid farewell to 30 years of autocratic Mubarak rule, The Financial Times reports.

Mr Mubarak’s exit, in the face of an unstoppable uprising that refused every concession short of his immediate departure, came exactly four weeks after Tunisia’s Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted by popular protests, in an Arab world where the people have suddenly discovered their power to change the status quo.

“Egypt will be heaven in 10 years,” declared Wael Ghoneim, the Google executive who had emerged as a leading symbol of the youth revolution.

“I cannot get a grip of myself, it is overwhelming,” said a tearful Karim Arafa as he celebrated in Tahrir Square . “I’m so proud to be an Egyptian. The people have overcome, we have won.”

A senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s biggest opposition group, said Egyptians had achieved the main goal of their popular uprising, according to Reuters.

Unlike Tunisia , however, the military, the only institution still respected by people but also most concerned about maintaining stability, has now stepped out of the shadows into direct rule for the first time since the 1952 officers revolt that brought down the monarchy in Egypt .

World Leaders Reactions


World leaders have begun reacting to the announcement that Hosni Mubarak has resigned as Egypt’s president and handed over power to the armed forces.

The following statements are given to Al Jazeera:

Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said the move showed Mubarak had “listened the voices of the Egyptian peopleand opened the way to reform in the country.

“It is important now that the dialogue is accelerated leading to a broad-based government which will respect the aspirations of, and deliver stability for, the Egyptian people,” she said just after Egypt’s vice-president delivered the news on Friday.

“The future of Egypt rightly remains in the hands of the Egyptian people,” she said.

Barack Obama, the US president, is due to make a statement on the development later on Friday.

The White House said Obama watched the television coverage of history unfolding outside a meeting at the Oval Office.

A day earlier, the US leader had said Cairo “must spell out a clear path to democracy”.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, hailed Mubarak’s decision as an “historic change”, and called on the country to respect its 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

Her sentiments were echoed by a senior Israeli official, who said: “We hope that the change to democracy in Egypt will happen without violence and that the peace accord will remain.”

David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, also urged Egypt to “move towards civilian and democratic rule”.

“Egypt now has a really precious moment of opportunity to have a government that can bring the country together,” he said.

Meanwhile Switzerland reacted by saying it was freezing the assets potentially belonging to Mubarak, according to a foreign ministry spokesman.

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Credit Markets: Calm & Consolidated

It seems that the credit markets are in the midst of one of their quietest periods for some time as investors look to consolidate after the recent rally, according to Markit Credit Research. Market participants didn’t seem to pay any attention to neither Egypt or Europe, Wednesday.  However, the fear of contagion in both areas is still very much present.

“The contagion effect is still there, but was not as noticeable as it was last week.”

Gavan Nolan

The sovereign CDS spreads widen again today. The Markit iTraxx CEEMA index still underperformed the Markit iTraxx SovX Western Europe, giving back some of the ground it made up over the last few days. But elsewhere the market was directionless.

Omar Suleiman, the vice-president who has emerged as the apparent power-broker, warned that Egypt could face a disastrous coup if talks aren’t successful and disorder continues.

The protests in Cairo are entering their third week and the masses have now gathered outside parliament. And so far there has been little sign of the protest fatigue that the authorities appear to be counting on.

“The contagion effect is still there, but was not as noticeable as it was last week,” credit analyst Gavan Nolan writes in his daily summary.

The Markit iTraxx Senior Financials index bounced back after widening in the previous two days.

“The sovereign market had negligible impact, and the relatively thin liquidity in the index probably contributed to the swings, according to traders,” Markit reports.

Speculation that Axel Weber’s decision to not stand for a second-term as Bundesbank president, rules him out of the ECB presidency may also have helped peripherals. Weber is a vocal opponent of the ECB buying peripheral debt, and him leaving the race to succeed Trichet could be interpreted as a positive development for the euro zone stragglers.

But it is not clear that Weber has ruled himself out –  and even if he does,  it is not given that a more dovish candidate will become fill the position.

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  • Markit iTraxx Europe 96bp (+1), Markit iTraxx Crossover 396bp (+4.5)
  • Markit iTraxx SovX Western Europe 168bp (-3)
  • Markit iTraxx Senior Financials 159.5bp (-5), Markit iTraxx Subordinated Financials 272bp (-2.5)
  • Sovereigns – Greece 810bp (-3), Spain 234bp (0), Portugal 433bp (+9), Italy 173bp (0), Ireland 562bp (+4), Belgium 164bp (+2), France 88bp (+1)
  • Egypt 355bp (+18), Tunisia 175bp (+5), Morocco 170bp (+5), Saudi Arabia 107bp (-1), Bahrain 232bp (-2), Qatar 96bp (-1), Lebanon 350bp (-5), Israel 135bp (+3)

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