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After Mubarak: A Silent Coup?

February 23, 2011

One possibility that is raised again and again by observers of the Egyptian uprising is the very real possibility that there will be new presidential and parliamentary elections, but that the Mubarak associates who’ve run the country for so long will use their experience in organizing, along with the wealth they have gained from their crony status, to dominate the new institutions.

The officer corps—currently headed by a close Mubarak ally—would remain a power behind the scenes.

As one Egyptian activist, Hosam al-Hamalawy said

while I believe the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, who receive $1.3 billion (US Dollars) annually from the US, will eventually engineer the transition to a ‘civilian’ government, I have no doubt it will be a government that will guarantee the continuation of a system that will never touch the army’s privileges, keep the armed forces as the institution that will have the final say in politics… (and) guarantee Egypt will continue to follow… US foreign policy…

What makes this so plausible is that it allows the leaders of the armed forces, who are currently in control, to make many of the changes demanded by pro-democratic protesters while being confident that they will not lose control of their current wealth and power, nor disrupt too badly the wellsprings from which it flows.

It might also be attractive to their foreign allies, including the United States, since it offers the veneer of democratic reform, while maintaining the status quo of stability.

Mitigating against this scenario has been the steady constant pressure being maintained by protesters—continued presence in Tahrir, large Friday demonstrations, continued labor strikes and protests—reminding the Supreme Council that a return to disorder is always only a few tweets away…

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