ISSN 2330-717X

Egypt’s Islamists And Military: Partners Or Rivals? – OpEd


By Konstantin Garibov

Egypt’s newly elected President Mohamed Morsi and representatives of the ruling Military Council are holding talks to clinch a power-sharing agreement and agree on spheres of influence.

The president will oversee the ministry of foreign affairs and the ministry of finance. The military have secured the right to control the interior ministry and the ministries of defense and justice.

It looks like representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and the ruling Military Council have succeeded in working out a fragile compromise regarding the Constitutional Commission. The military have agreed to refrain from exerting pressure on the commission in the implementation of their pledge to hand over power after the adoption of the Constitution. They have also consented to preserve the composition of the commission which was approved by parliament before it was dissolved this month. The Islamists who gained an overwhelming majority in parliament set up a constitutional commission without consulting with the military. The military demanded that the president replace ten members of the commission with technical experts they would support.

The military have also pledged to abstain from meddling in the procedure of selecting and appointing the prime minister. Apparently, the Islamists have promised to choose a candidate that would suit all. The IAEA’s ex Director General Mohamed El Baradei has been named a prime candidate for the post of prime minister.

According to Sergei Demidenko of the Institute of Strategic Evaluation and Analysis, the relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military could follow two different scenarios. First, it might spill into confrontation. However, the expert says, there are a number of factors that prevent the conflict from taking an acute shape.

“There are the Salafis, who are opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood and to the military. And the Muslim Brotherhood, which appears to be the most popular opposition force in Egypt, has no clear-cut program for the revival of the country. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood are afraid of assuming responsibility for Egypt’s future. This creates a fertile ground for an alliance, if only temporary, between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood. The two major groups would surely find it easier to act together, rather than separately.”

Egypt’s newly elected president is openly inclined to a reasonable compromise and is prepared to listen to his political opponents. On Thursday, Mohamed Morsi met with leaders of political parties. Apparently, he expects his opponents to support economic reforms and the new arrangements for establishing relations with neighboring countries in return for Cabinet posts.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi plans to give the post of presidential adviser to a representative of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Should he pursue the plan, the appointment will be the first of its kind in the country’s history. Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, whose advice was not needed under President Mubarak, will now serve as presidential adviser.

Mohamed Morsi will be sworn-in as president on June 30th . During his first address to the nation after his election he promised to be a president for all. As the first step in this direction, he has pulled out of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. What his next steps will be and whether the military will give them the green light will become clear in the near future.

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VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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