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Sunday, February 13, 2011

'Mubarak's poodle' takes over in Egypt

Now that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is gone, power in Egypt is being wielded by the former Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi. How much different is he than Mubarak? From this report, it seems that he's like Mubarak but less corrupt.
"He's the defense minister. He's a career officer... Anyone that serves the ministry for that long is part of the regime," Nathan Brown of George Washington University's Elliot School of International Affairs told ABC News. "I would be surprised if he kept that job that long without being loyal [to Mubarak]."

However, John Sifton, a former investigator with Human Rights Watch and author of two major reports on Egypt, said that as far as abuses, "in comparison with the civilian institutions, the military -- let's just say we have a lot more faith and optimism about what's going to happen" now that the military is in charge.

Egypt's recently appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman, made the announcement today that a military council, with Tantawi at its head, would wield power in the nation in Mubarak's place, even though several U.S. and Egyptian officials assumed Suleiman would inherit control.

Suleiman, formerly the country's intelligence chief and who oversaw the torture of an Al Qaeda suspect, would have represented little of the change the protestors were hoping for, experts said.

"Mubarak and Suleiman are the same person," said Emile Nakhleh, a former top Middle East analyst for the CIA. "They are not two different people in terms of ideology and reform."

Though they erupted in applause at the announcement Mubarak was leaving and Suleiman would not assume control, some protestors said Tantawi may not be much different.

"He's corrupt... He's not favored in the military. He's there because he stayed loyal to Honsi Mubarak," 26-year-old Abdelaziz Abdel Nabi told ABC News. "We're scared one of the military people steps up and controls us, like Mubarak did."

A leaked U.S. State Department cable posted on the website Wikileaks, which cited "academics and civilian analysts," called Tantawi "Mubarak's poodle" and said mid-level officers in the Egyptian military were infuriated by his incompetence and blind loyalty to Mubarak. Tantawi has served Egypt's military for years and fought alongside the U.S. and its allies in the 1991 Gulf War.


Despite being a long-time member of the regime and close ally of Mubarak's through his presidency, Brown said Tantawi has a major advantage in the simple fact that the military is, for the most part, independent of the state's despised police and intelligence forces.

"They're completely separate," Brown said. "That intelligence, police state -- this was run in kind of a rough manner [and] the police and security service were untouchable... The military's task was defense of the homeland, not maintaining internal security."

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At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As army dissolves constitution and Parliament, meet the new boss, same as the old boss....


At 6:32 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The military has always been the key to the regime's survival since it took power in a coup in 1952. It got rid of a Mubarak dynasty but the problems that triggered Mubarak's fall from power are far greater than one man and they may be beyond the means of the current regime - or any future democratic regime in Egypt to solve.


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