Old army in new Egypt

Old army in new Egypt

Trend Arabic news service commentator Aygul Taghiyeva

The first stage of the parliamentary elections ended in Egypt last week. A 85-percent voter turnout was observed. The landslide victory of the Islamists -- the newly-formed Justice and Freedom Party -- was the result of the elections. It is a political model of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, banned during the reign of Hosni Mubarak.

At first glance, it would seem that the democracy was established after the fall of Mubarak's regime, if people could elect their candidate, but the reality is not so simple.

If we analyze a one-year-post-Mubarak period in Egypt, it is hard to name specific changes in the political and social life of the country. After the fall of the regime on Feb. 11, demonstrations did not stop and led to the deaths of 40 people. The demonstrators' main requirement after Mubarak's overthrow was to transfer power from military to civilian bodies.

The elections were held. The power was almost transferred to civilians. However, the scale of power transferred to the Muslim Brotherhood is questionable. This doubt is strengthened by some statements of the organization's leaders.

In his interview with Al Arabiya, one of the most influential figures of the organization, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, said he is grateful to the Egyptian army for his services to the country. Akef said he is against peace with Israel. However, he said this is his personal opinion. He believes that if it is necessary to change somethign in the foreign policy of the country, the authorities must decided. He also stressed that the country must take into account first and foremost the interests of the people in its policy toward Israel.

These statements by the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood are surprising since it is this organization that has for many years opposed an improvement of the relations with Tel Aviv.

They have also repeatedly said they do not intend to nominate a representative as candidate for the country's head. One of the movement's leaders, Abdul Munim Abu al-Futuh, who in May declared his intention to participate in the presidential elections in Egypt formally stopped his membership in the movement and will run as an independent candidate.

All this makes one wonder to what extent the Freedom and Justice Party will manage to execute policy independent of the army and whether power will be transferred to civilians.

The Islamists who come to power may be under the control of the military and may be something like a puppet government in hands of a military council.

It is also expected that the Muslim Brotherhood is unlikely to remain silent in the face of its successor politicians who are controlled by the military. We may observe a split between the Muslim Brotherhood organization and the Freedom and Justice Party, which may cause a new political crisis.

Such a domestic policy will also serve the interests of the West, which has always been afraid of the Islamists coming to power in Egypt. Thus, the new power in the country rests in the hands of the old army. This will be a suitable option for the West, as well as for Israel, which will continue to recieve its share of natural gas from new Egypt.

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