MB and SCAF: A Trial Truce and Trade of Powers
By: Bisan Kassab
Published Thursday, August 2, 2012
It appears that the Muslim Brotherhood and the military brass are trying to bury their differences. Some observers believe that a deal has been reached to satisfy all the parties involved.
Cairo - Egyptians were surprised when state television carried simultaneous live broadcasts of the Friday prayers from two mosques for the first time in its history.
One feed showed President Mohamed Mursi in al-Fayyoum, considered to be one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s strongholds south of Cairo.
The other showed the head of the military council, Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, at the al-Rushdan mosque in Cairo.
“The screen was split in half,” wrote Hani Salah al-Din, writer and member of the Muslim Brotherhood in an article entitled: “Half for the President and Half for the Field Marshall,” published on al-Yawm al-Sabi website, criticizing state television, which he believes is still loyal to the ousted Hosni Mubarak regime.
This scene seemed to capture the relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF), which continues to have legislative authority.
It came after al-Shorouk newspaper’s revelation of “a truce between SCAF, the Brotherhood, and the presidency, agreeing to carry on with the constitutional committee’s work.”
It seems that the three sides have reached an agreement to continue the work of the constitutional committee without interference from the military council.
The agreement also seems to include a transitional clause by the representatives of the Brotherhood allowing Mursi to complete his term in office in case the system of governance and the authority of the president change in the new constitution.
In return, SCAF received promises from the Brotherhood – who enjoy a majority on the committee – to pass the clauses dealing with the armed forces, which are to be put forward by the military’s representative on the committee.
The newspaper also spoke of other promises to preserve what was termed the “civilian state,” keeping Tantawi as minister of defense and commander of the armed forces. This was resolved yesterday.
The general secretary of the constitutional committee, and member of the executive committee of the Freedom and Justice party, Amr Darraj, confirmed to Al-Akhbar that the committee was indeed moving towards the adoption of transitional clauses concerning a number of state institutions.
He said that the some clauses are related to the presidency and stipulated that Mursi would not have to resign should the system of government change in the new constitution.
“As for the clauses concerning the armed forces, it is still too early to speak about them. However, it seems that they will need to be clearer than they were in the 1971 constitution,” he said.
“The reality is that the president at the time (Anwar Sadat) was a military man, as was the case after the 1952 revolution. This meant that many of the affairs of the armed forces used to be carried out smoothly, without the need to be defined by the constitution, but things are different now,” he added.
This revelation by al-Shorouk newspaper came only two days after a decision by the state council to postpone the verdict on dissolving the constitutional committee until September 24.
Essentially, this means that the committee has been given the chance to complete the new draft constitution.
This prompted the deputy head of the state council, Ahmad Wajdi, to describe the court’s decision as “having been arrived at against the background of a deal between the military council and the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Wajdi explained to Al-Akhbar that “there is no legal incentive or excuse for postponing the verdict, particularly when the Brotherhood have not given any convincing evidence to justify their request to exclude Judge Abdul-Salam al-Najjar.”
“The court should have passed its verdict, rejected the Brotherhood’s request, and sent the case for dissolving the constitutional committee back to Najjar,” he added.
This point of view is perhaps reinforced by the resentment expressed by the National Front for Protecting the Revolution over president Mursi’s avoidance of a meeting with its chief co-ordinator, Seif Abdul-Fattah.
Mursi did eventually meet Abdul-Fattah to discuss how to implement clauses of the agreement the president had promised to carry through before he won the elections.
A leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Gamal Hishmat, denied the existence of such a deal. He described the court’s decision as “simply pertaining to legal procedures which need sufficient time to be completed before a decision is made.”
Kamal al-Halabawi, formerly of the Brotherhood, insisted that he did not believe that there had been any conflict with the the military council in the first place.
He pointed out that despite the imprisonment, attacks, and torture the Brotherhood suffered before the revolution, they are not seeking revenge.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.