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The Egyptian Military Left in the Lurch

Today’s misinformation circus in Egypt could further destabilize a precarious situation. One of the casualties of the Mubarak resignation that wasn’t was the credibility of the Egyptian military. It was the military, remember, that first indicated the supposed likelihood of Mubarak’s stepping down, and it did so with a flourish, announcing that it would “safeguard the country” during the transition. This is worrisome because the army is, in the words of Brookings Institution scholar Kenneth Pollack, “the most important institution in Egypt, and it is vital to a peaceful transition to a moderate form of government.”

Just as Egypt cannot afford to lose the backbone that is its army, the Egyptian army cannot afford to lose the faith of the people at this moment. Whatever the cause of today’s confusion, it has put new pressure on the army to prove itself a credible protector of Egyptians’ best interests through the upheaval. Making any predictions now is of course a fool’s game, but it should not come as a shock if the Egyptian military begins to take on a more significant and pivotal role in the drama.


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