Army at Odds with Mubarak and Suleiman?

Was Mubarak's speech last night in defiance of the military?

Via ahramonline:  Army and presidency at odds – says former intelligence official

Maj. Gen. Safwat El-Zayat, a former senior official of Egypt’s General Intelligence and member of the Egyptian Council of Foreign Affairs, asserted, in an interview with Ahram Online, that the address delivered by President Mubarak last night was formulated against the wishes of the armed forces, and away from their oversight. He claimed that Vice Preisdent Omar Suleiman’s address, which came on the heels of Mubarak’s address, was equally in defiance of the armed forces and away from its oversight.

Attributing this information to his own sources within the Egyptian military, Maj. Gen. El-Zayat said there was now a deep cleavage between the armed forces, represented in its Supreme Council, and the Presidential authority, represented in both President Mubarak and his Vice President, Omar Suleiman.

If this is true, several things come to mind:

1)  It explains why, yesterday, it appeared that the military (in its Communiqué #1) was about to support Mubarak’s resignation and then no resignation materialized.

2)  This supports the very real possibility that the military removed Mubarak from power today, rather than Mubarak simply handing power over to the military.

3)  It also explains why Mubarak has not spoken since the “resignation” and why the Vice President looked a bit shaken (again, in contrast to last night) when he spoke earlier today.

Note:  Al-Ahram is an Egyptian newspaper that has been in publication since 1875

FILED UNDER: Africa, World Politics,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. says:

    Is it just me, or does the language of the excerpt sound fairly ominous? I’ve internalized the phrase “civilian control of the military” enough that I would be rather afraid of a general talking about a government official (even a theoretically corrupt official) “defying” the armed forces and being away from the military’s oversight.

    I don’t have time right now to check out the source, so perhaps this is a second hand quote or perhaps there is a translation gap here, or is that really as bad as it sounds?

  2. Brummagem Joe says:

    I don’t doubt there are divisions in the Egyptian military but suspect they’re not between the high command who are basically Mubarak cronies and Mubarak/Suleiman but between the high command and lesser generals and colonels. I know you’re anxious to justify your claim the military have carried out a coup but I don’t see this makes the case one way or the other particularly since the military is obviously trying to bolster its popularity and so putting distance between themselves and Mubarak would be the kind of thing they would do.

  3. It is potentially as ominous as it sounds. Egypt was hardly a country with civilian control of the military in the way we are used to the term.

    @Joe: You are free to assess my position however you like. However, your assessment does not make me wrong 😉

  4. Ben Wolf says:

    If Mubarak drafted the speech as something of a “sod off” to the military, I’d be very interested to learn what changed Mubarak’s mind so quickly. What happened in less than twenty-four hours to move him from defiance to acquiescence? Was he mistaken regarding how much control he really had over the military?

  5. tom p says:

    Was he mistaken regarding how much control he really had over the military?

    I suspect a 9 mm to the head can change a few minds.

  6. Brummagem Joe says:

    Joe: You are free to assess my position however you like. However, your assessment does not make me wrong 😉

    Well you’re certainly not going to admit you’re wrong no matter how much evidence is adduced to demonstrate that this is so. When someone is reduced to claiming the OED is an unreliable guide to the meaning of a word what can one say. Anyone who has been watching the events today who thinks the military’s trusteeship of power would allow them to maintain anything approaching the status quo has to be smoking something. They have a contingent lease on power and not a freehold.

  7. Joe,

    The thing is you really aren’t making argument as much as appealing to the OED. Further you are expecting the dictionary to do more than what it is intended to do.

  8. TG Chicago says:

    Historians looking back on this period will probably be amazed at how many articles and news stories they find saying that Mubarak did *not* step down (or got pushed down). They will all come from the ~12 hour period between his speech Thursday night and his ouster on Friday.