As the protesters on the streets of Egypt’s cities increasingly say the army must choose either their country or Mubarak has been speaking to an expert Egypt’s military apparatus, Burhan Ghalioun, Director of the Centre for Contemporary Oriental Studies at the Sorbonne University in Paris.
Ali Takach euronews:
Professor Ghalioun, do you think the role the Tunisian army played in the Jasmine Revolution will influence how the Egyptian military react during the current unrest?
Professor Burhan Ghalioun:
“Armies differ in size and have different roles across the Arab world. In Tunisia, the military was marginalised during Ben Ali’s rule and has not, traditionally, played a part in the country’s politics. In Egypt the army is key, it has played a central role, especially in the coup to end the monarchy, and they still have an important political function. Today, and despite everything that is happening, the army is not in conflict with the protesters, but protects the states institutions.
“There is a general feeling that the army is the only institution capable of offering any security after the failure of the police. No other institution can hold the country together because of the lack of any clear, coherent opposition.”
“Do you see the army repeating the coup of 1952?”
“No, we are far from the 1952 scenario, the monarchy has gone and the army and its officers are very close to the people and are in midst of national reforms. But, today the support for the army is less, the anti-colonial drive has gone. Today the army is seen as the defender of democracy and the freedom it brings. One has to look at the conflict within the army itself and the conflict between the army and the regime.”
“For the Egyptians, and Arabs in general, the army always plays a role in regime change; how can Egypt learn to rely less on the military?”
“I don’t think the Egyptian people realise they are so dependent on the army, they believe the army belongs to them and the military will not stand in the way of the will to create a real democracy. The people want the army to join their cause. No they don’t rely on the army as such, this is not what they want, they want the army to safeguard sovereignty and rule of law. So once democracy is in place institutions must accept the rules and implications of democracy and the army is such an institution.
“As long as the military is not manipulated and that it doesn’t impose an agenda from outside Egypt based on the regional balance of power and Israel’s security for example.