Egypt: Supreme Council of the Armed Forces

As the Egyptian police forces clash for a fifth day with protesters demanding the military junta relinquish power, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has accepted the resignation of Egypt’s Cabinet.

Demonstrators Target the Prolonged Rule of Mohamed Tantawi

Since the protests began on Saturday, 37 civilians have died, illustrating the claims that the supposed transitional military council that replaced President Hosni Mubarak in February, has now become the enemy of the revolution in Egypt.  The military, under Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, had originally pledged to return to barracks within 6 months of Mubarak’s removal, but its apparent reluctance to relinquish power and privileges has fueled frustration among Egyptians.  The clashes have gained international coverage and many human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International, have targeted Egypt’s military junta for the use of excessive force that has sometimes exceeded the brutality of Mubarak.  Protesters have vowed not to leave Cairo’s Tahrir Square until the military council steps down, apparently giving Tantawi an ultimatum to which no amount of inflated rhetoric of false promises will get him out of.

“I urge Egyptian authorities to end the clearly excessive use of force against protesters in Tahrir Square and elsewhere in the country, including the apparent improper use of tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition.” – Navi Pillay, UN human Rights Chief

The resignation of the civilian Cabinet of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, has been among the political consequences resulting from the escalating street violence throughout Egypt.  The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has been targeted by domestic forces  and international media, as startling images come back of the brutal beating of already subdued protesters sparking memories of the cruelty that the Egyptian had fought against initially, under Hosni Mubarak.  In response, the military council has attempted to appease protesters through concession.  Mohamed Tantawi vowed in a public address Tuesday to hold presidential elections by July 2012.  The promise reminded many protesters of the hallow speeches of the former dictator, further infuriating protesters of the apparent authoritarian regime that has taken control of their country.  Aggravation has only to continued to intensify as Tantawi suggested holding a referendum on whether military rule should end earlier, which many viewed as a ploy to appeal to many Egyptians who fear further upheaval.  With the vacancy left by the resignation of Essam Sharaf’s Cabinet, Parliamentary elections are set to begin on Monday and Tantawi has pledged that polls would go forward as promised.

“There are many viruses in the system.  It needs to be cleaned out entirely.  We need to change the regime lie they did in Tunisia and Libya.” – Abdullah Galah, Computer Sales Manager and Tahrir Square Demonstrator

The next legislature has opened windows for many competing groups to begin pushing for power, illustrating the division of Egyptian society, as well as the instability that will remain for a longer period of time then is being offered by protesters.  The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s strongest and best organized group is not taking part in the ongoing protest, attempting to demonstrate its desire not to do anything that could derail the election, which it hopes to win along with its allies.  60 years after it was banned, the Brotherhood has found itself empowered in the wake of the February 11th usurpation of Mubarak.  Forming the Freedom and Justice party, the notorious opportunists hope to win enough seats in the new legislature to push through a new constitution with an Islamic slant and bring this mainly Muslim nation of close to 85 million people, close to an Islamic state.  Consequently, the expected win for the Muslim Brotherhood have stirred fears in Israel and its bilateral ties and the future of the country’s peace treaty.

In retrospect, the cries of joy and peace from the crowds that vindicated years of struggle against Hosni Mubarak have now turned into rocks and fists as the military junta dictates and suppresses their futures and their aspirations.  Similar to the French Revolution in 1789, which ended with the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte  and his military rule, the Egyptians have awoken to the reality of the instability and the terror that has come with a power vacancy being occupied by a military junta.  So saying, with an uneasy truce being held together by a “human shield” of clerics between police forces and demonstrators, the obstacles to democratic transition and the challenges to Egypt’s future are now only accumulating.

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