Are We Really Back to Relying on the Egyptian Military to Save the Day?

By Andrew C. McCarthy:

Back when Mubarak was clinging to power and the Tahrir Square rioting was intensifying, I cautioned that it would be foolish for the West to assume that the Egyptian military — principal recipient of tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars over the last 40 years — would step in and stop the country from falling into the grip of Islamists. The Egyptian military is a reflection of Egyptian society which, as we have now seen in election after election, is dominated by Islamists. Indeed, despite the good relations some top Egyptian military brass have had with the Pentagon, the fact is that some of the most important members of al Qaeda and other jihadist organizations have served in the Egyptian armed forces.

It is thus remarkable to hear commentators now speculating that, as Egypt is imploding, the armed forces may finally be poised to step in and save the day — perhaps even oust the Muslim Brotherhood government of President Mohamed Morsi. This supposition is based on a warning just issued by General Abdel Fatah El Sissi, the defense minister: “The continuation of the conflict between the different political forces and their differences over how the country should be run could lead to the collapse of the state and threaten future generations.”

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Understand: Gen. Sissi is Morsi’s guy. As I observed here back in August, when Morsi succeeded in sacking the military’s Mubarak-era leaders, Sissi is well known in Egyptian military ranks as a Brotherhood supporter. Moreover, Sissi’s elevation was not Morsi’s only move to tame the military. As recounted in another column at the time, Morsi installed Gen. Sedky Sobhi as army chief of staff. Sobhi is an Islamist who has called for the permanent withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Middle East, deriding what he takes to be American hostility to sharia and American creation of the “popular grievances” that fuel al Qaeda’s popularity.

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