Led by the Muslim Brotherhood, the enduring rival of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), thousands of people poured into Tahrir Square, the birth place of the revolution, on Wednesday to demand the military to be hands-off during the process of transition. After the collapse of the Hosni Mubarak regime, the timeline for the transition to democracy was drafted by SCAF. The military played either a direct or behind-the-scenes role in the dissolution of parliament by the Constitutional Court, which was dominated by Mubarak-era judges and the suspension of the drafting of a new constitution.
Moreover, SCAF sent a strong message that it had no willingness to relinquish all power to a civilian leader by curbing the authority of a new president through a last-minute constitutional declaration.
In addition, the military appears to be the usual suspect behind delaying the announcement of election results, which were expected to be released on Thursday. This led to the question as to whether SCAF will relinquish presidential power to democratically elected Mohammad Morsi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had been banned for a long time as a legal political body until the revolution.
Meanwhile, the domination in parliament by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis led to concerns not only in leftist, liberal and secular groups but also in the military. Christians were also uneasy with the outcome of the parliamentary elections.
Furthermore, the poor performance of the Muslim Brotherhood in parliament did not assuage the fears of other political groups, but rather accelerated their break with the organization. Emad Ahmad Seyyid, the editor of Al Siyasi magazine, which will be launched next month, lambasted the Islamist parties, arguing that those parties showed a poor performance in parliament and fuelled the doubts of the people and military. According to Seyyid, the military, which holds $40 billion in cash and controls 38 percent of the economy, doesn’t want to lose its prerogatives. On the other hand, he disagrees with comments portraying the recent move of the military as a coup.
In contrast to Seyyid, Egyptian journalist Sara Khorsi believes that everything resembles a typical coup. “You can’t disassociate the Supreme Court’s ruling to dissolve parliament from the ruling military council’s plans, and the Constitutional declaration it has issued. The court’s panel of judges was appointed by Mubarak, just like the military council’s members were,” she said.
She pointed out that the constitutional declaration curtailed the president’s power. “SCAF gave itself legislative powers,” she said, adding that the declaration also gave the military legislative powers.
Mohamed al-Beltagy, a prominent figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, stated that the organization learned significant lessons from the past. According to him, all the moves made by the military led to a re-gathering of all opposition groups.
In a message posted on his Facebook account, al-Beltagy said: “We should never allow anything to drive a wedge between the revolution and the Brotherhood, which is responsible now for leading a political scene that is not dominated by any one faction.”
Highlighting the mistakes that the Muslim Brotherhood made during the post-Mubarak era, Egyptian politician Wahid Abdel Maged argued that the landslide victory in the elections led to radical changes in the behavior of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which worked together with other groups and parties at the beginning of the period of transition.
Abdel Maged, who once took part in a political bloc led by the FJP, said the FJP had turned its back on its allies following the parliamentary elections and prioritized its own interests. He went on to say that in doing so the organization served the cause of SCAF.
Experts argued that the power struggle and tension between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood could be aggravated in the upcoming weeks and an actual military coup by SCAF constitutes the worst-case scenario.