Sunday, January 30, 2011

The One Person Who May Know What Egypt's Generals will do

"... I'd guess that Suleiman spent 80% of his time devoted to monitoring Egypt's generals and colonels, the officers who could order the tanks to seize the presidential palace. Suleiman no doubt had every one of their phones tapped, knew who was in debt and who wasn't, who left the country and who didn't. He knew exactly who took which bribes and for how much — a weapon for keeping them in line.
Egypt may have been under a constant Islamic militant threat since the 1950s but Suleiman and his predecessors knew all along this was only a flea bite compared to the threat of a military coup d'etat. In a country like Egypt, all it would take is one tank company to surround the presidential palace and change the regime.
On the other side of the equation, Egypt's officers know exactly how vulnerable they are in a system like this. If they have never seen the inside of one of Suleiman's prisons, they've heard enough about them to live in abject terror. Accordingly, they make a point of never speaking out frankly, either to other officers who more than likely could be reporting to Suleiman. And they especially avoid foreign diplomats.
All bets are off now that the Egyptian commander-in-chief's fate is on the edge. But I'd guess they're coming out of their holes now and asking aloud what's next — how to preserve the dictatorship. But, like I said this is only a guess.
Washington's problem though is that the last people the Egyptian generals and officers talk to will be the Americans. We can count on that probably because there aren't many Egyptian officers who didn't read the WikiLeaks diplomatic cable dump.
And anyhow if the military ever comes to the excrutiating decision of giving Mubarak the boot, what good can the United States do other than congratulate them after the fact? After all these years of hiding behind a wall of complete opaqueness, the United States simply doesn't understand Egypt's military enough to be of any assistance.
So we can only watch and wait. But let's don't pay any attention to anyone who says, "I told you so." What do they know."

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