The People versus the Military: Egypt's marriage of convenience in trouble

Published June 1st, 2011 - 09:05 GMT

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Given a tradition of tight relations between the military and the state (for now, the people), Egypt could be forgiven for expecting a promising and blossoming bond to prevail after Mubarak's ouster February 11, 2001. The first encounters between the armed forces and civilians were quite warm: and people celebrated together with an army they claimed was of and from them after all. Protesters jumped on tanks in joy and paused to take pictures with military forces in khaki uniforms. Continue reading below »

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Traditionally, Egypt's modern army has maintained a strong place in the state, feeding the country with 4 of its leaders.  It has sustained a strong bond, even duty of care, with the people historically, breeding a sense of trust between the 2 sides.
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Image 1 of 11:  1 / 11Traditionally, Egypt's modern army has maintained a strong place in the state, feeding the country with 4 of its leaders. It has sustained a strong bond, even duty of care, with the people historically, breeding a sense of trust between the 2 sides.

Enlarge
1952 heralded the era of 'military command' that arguably took hold til the People Revolution of 2011. The1952 coup d'etat sewed the seed of the start of a beautiful friendship, driven by military fellow and darling of Egypt 2nd President, Nasser.
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Image 2 of 11:  2 / 111952 heralded the era of 'military command' that arguably took hold til the People Revolution of 2011. The1952 coup d'etat sewed the seed of the start of a beautiful friendship, driven by military fellow and darling of Egypt 2nd President, Nasser.

Enlarge
Royalty-free: This coup left Egypt free of the throne of a monarchy and King Farouk (above), and instead, with the seat of Presidency and a Republic. Today the military are steering the country again, in charge as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), assuming power, February 11, 2011.
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Image 3 of 11:  3 / 11Royalty-free: This coup left Egypt free of the throne of a monarchy and King Farouk (above), and instead, with the seat of Presidency and a Republic. Today the military are steering the country again, in charge as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), assuming power, February 11, 2011.

Enlarge
This vacuum post-Farouk,  left in power a rich and formidable force of a modern army with its estimated $4.5 billion defense budget for 2010, and a  U.S.-bestowed, 10-year hefty sum of 13 billion from 2007.
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Image 4 of 11:  4 / 11This vacuum post-Farouk, left in power a rich and formidable force of a modern army with its estimated $4.5 billion defense budget for 2010, and a U.S.-bestowed, 10-year hefty sum of 13 billion from 2007.

Enlarge
You can't touch this! These troops enjoy the high life (as one of the world's largest recipients of U.S. military aid) and a pampered existence internally. They do not have to answer to a press long-restricted in reporting on the military, following years of censorship laws.
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Image 5 of 11:  5 / 11You can't touch this! These troops enjoy the high life (as one of the world's largest recipients of U.S. military aid) and a pampered existence internally. They do not have to answer to a press long-restricted in reporting on the military, following years of censorship laws.

Enlarge
This is the same military that is number 10 in the world, behind regional neighbors only Saudi Arabia and Israel.  Can this force to reckon with lead and herald Egypt safely into a democratic state?
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Image 6 of 11:  6 / 11This is the same military that is number 10 in the world, behind regional neighbors only Saudi Arabia and Israel. Can this force to reckon with lead and herald Egypt safely into a democratic state?

Enlarge
Will they uphold the accolade of being 'one hand with the people'? The people want democracy-  a tough call to align military with democratic norms: Reports of military trials are rife, with the old marks of an unpopular regime not yet stamped out by a repressive army-boot turning on its own.
Reduce

Image 7 of 11:  7 / 11Will they uphold the accolade of being 'one hand with the people'? The people want democracy- a tough call to align military with democratic norms: Reports of military trials are rife, with the old marks of an unpopular regime not yet stamped out by a repressive army-boot turning on its own.

Enlarge
Reports of that same 'hand' of the trusted military raining down blows on its people with iron rods, electrical devices, and the stamping of its army boots on the  face of victim, singer and protester, (Rami Issam ,below), one of many tortured during crackdown in March.
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Image 8 of 11:  8 / 11Reports of that same 'hand' of the trusted military raining down blows on its people with iron rods, electrical devices, and the stamping of its army boots on the face of victim, singer and protester, (Rami Issam ,below), one of many tortured during crackdown in March.

Enlarge
While soon after the revolutionary triumph of the people, the army showed warmth, and pride, this seems to have been a false start: Officially the army stood by their commitment to the people’s revolution and pledged to establish a civil democratic order after a six-month transitional period.
Reduce

Image 9 of 11:  9 / 11While soon after the revolutionary triumph of the people, the army showed warmth, and pride, this seems to have been a false start: Officially the army stood by their commitment to the people’s revolution and pledged to establish a civil democratic order after a six-month transitional period.

Enlarge
The military-civilian honeymoon appears to be souring, confirmed by revelations of violations to the army's Bride - a group of 17 of its revolutionary women civilians who filed reports on abuse from their protectors. They claim to being subjected to 'virginity tests' where all honor was shattered.
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Image 10 of 11:  10 / 11The military-civilian honeymoon appears to be souring, confirmed by revelations of violations to the army's Bride - a group of 17 of its revolutionary women civilians who filed reports on abuse from their protectors. They claim to being subjected to 'virginity tests' where all honor was shattered.

Enlarge
Misgivings: Will the military force stand firm and true to the challenge of securing and transitioning its people safely into democracy? SCAF has been charged with ruling the country since Mubarak's ouster, and drafting Egypt’s Constitution, while acting as Secular protector of the State.
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Image 11 of 11:  11 / 11Misgivings: Will the military force stand firm and true to the challenge of securing and transitioning its people safely into democracy? SCAF has been charged with ruling the country since Mubarak's ouster, and drafting Egypt’s Constitution, while acting as Secular protector of the State.

Enlarge

1

Traditionally, Egypt's modern army has maintained a strong place in the state, feeding the country with 4 of its leaders.  It has sustained a strong bond, even duty of care, with the people historically, breeding a sense of trust between the 2 sides.

Image 1 of 11Traditionally, Egypt's modern army has maintained a strong place in the state, feeding the country with 4 of its leaders. It has sustained a strong bond, even duty of care, with the people historically, breeding a sense of trust between the 2 sides.

2

1952 heralded the era of 'military command' that arguably took hold til the People Revolution of 2011. The1952 coup d'etat sewed the seed of the start of a beautiful friendship, driven by military fellow and darling of Egypt 2nd President, Nasser.

Image 2 of 111952 heralded the era of 'military command' that arguably took hold til the People Revolution of 2011. The1952 coup d'etat sewed the seed of the start of a beautiful friendship, driven by military fellow and darling of Egypt 2nd President, Nasser.

3

Royalty-free: This coup left Egypt free of the throne of a monarchy and King Farouk (above), and instead, with the seat of Presidency and a Republic. Today the military are steering the country again, in charge as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), assuming power, February 11, 2011.

Image 3 of 11Royalty-free: This coup left Egypt free of the throne of a monarchy and King Farouk (above), and instead, with the seat of Presidency and a Republic. Today the military are steering the country again, in charge as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), assuming power, February 11, 2011.

4

This vacuum post-Farouk,  left in power a rich and formidable force of a modern army with its estimated $4.5 billion defense budget for 2010, and a  U.S.-bestowed, 10-year hefty sum of 13 billion from 2007.

Image 4 of 11This vacuum post-Farouk, left in power a rich and formidable force of a modern army with its estimated $4.5 billion defense budget for 2010, and a U.S.-bestowed, 10-year hefty sum of 13 billion from 2007.

5

You can't touch this! These troops enjoy the high life (as one of the world's largest recipients of U.S. military aid) and a pampered existence internally. They do not have to answer to a press long-restricted in reporting on the military, following years of censorship laws.

Image 5 of 11You can't touch this! These troops enjoy the high life (as one of the world's largest recipients of U.S. military aid) and a pampered existence internally. They do not have to answer to a press long-restricted in reporting on the military, following years of censorship laws.

6

This is the same military that is number 10 in the world, behind regional neighbors only Saudi Arabia and Israel.  Can this force to reckon with lead and herald Egypt safely into a democratic state?

Image 6 of 11This is the same military that is number 10 in the world, behind regional neighbors only Saudi Arabia and Israel. Can this force to reckon with lead and herald Egypt safely into a democratic state?

7

Will they uphold the accolade of being 'one hand with the people'? The people want democracy-  a tough call to align military with democratic norms: Reports of military trials are rife, with the old marks of an unpopular regime not yet stamped out by a repressive army-boot turning on its own.

Image 7 of 11Will they uphold the accolade of being 'one hand with the people'? The people want democracy- a tough call to align military with democratic norms: Reports of military trials are rife, with the old marks of an unpopular regime not yet stamped out by a repressive army-boot turning on its own.

8

Reports of that same 'hand' of the trusted military raining down blows on its people with iron rods, electrical devices, and the stamping of its army boots on the  face of victim, singer and protester, (Rami Issam ,below), one of many tortured during crackdown in March.

Image 8 of 11Reports of that same 'hand' of the trusted military raining down blows on its people with iron rods, electrical devices, and the stamping of its army boots on the face of victim, singer and protester, (Rami Issam ,below), one of many tortured during crackdown in March.

9

While soon after the revolutionary triumph of the people, the army showed warmth, and pride, this seems to have been a false start: Officially the army stood by their commitment to the people’s revolution and pledged to establish a civil democratic order after a six-month transitional period.

Image 9 of 11While soon after the revolutionary triumph of the people, the army showed warmth, and pride, this seems to have been a false start: Officially the army stood by their commitment to the people’s revolution and pledged to establish a civil democratic order after a six-month transitional period.

10

The military-civilian honeymoon appears to be souring, confirmed by revelations of violations to the army's Bride - a group of 17 of its revolutionary women civilians who filed reports on abuse from their protectors. They claim to being subjected to 'virginity tests' where all honor was shattered.

Image 10 of 11The military-civilian honeymoon appears to be souring, confirmed by revelations of violations to the army's Bride - a group of 17 of its revolutionary women civilians who filed reports on abuse from their protectors. They claim to being subjected to 'virginity tests' where all honor was shattered.

11

Misgivings: Will the military force stand firm and true to the challenge of securing and transitioning its people safely into democracy? SCAF has been charged with ruling the country since Mubarak's ouster, and drafting Egypt’s Constitution, while acting as Secular protector of the State.

Image 11 of 11Misgivings: Will the military force stand firm and true to the challenge of securing and transitioning its people safely into democracy? SCAF has been charged with ruling the country since Mubarak's ouster, and drafting Egypt’s Constitution, while acting as Secular protector of the State.

Reduce

Since Mubarak fell and handed over power to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), officially ending his 30-year political reign, the relationship has been tested. Egypt is under the rule of generals who have affirmed their commitment to the people’s revolution and pledged to establish a civil democratic order overseeing the drafting of a consitution.

Yet, in recent weeks, this military-civilian honeymoon appeared to be souring, unleashing scrutiny over the SCAF's performance and bringing into doubt the familiar slogan “The military and the people are one hand.” Nor has the army directed its roughened-hand and tough measures toward Mubarak and family who the people still wish to see brought to account.

A look in pictures at the romance between people and army, leding up to the latest CNN reports on women torture complete with 'virginity test' and military trials that may pronounce this  59 year- romance dead? And so close to celebrating their 60th anniversary!

 

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