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Sunday, July 24, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Egyptian military eyes Turkish model, seeks dominance of political system

CAIRO — Five months after ousting President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's military wants to maintain its dominant role.


Egypt's ruling military council has been drafting a constitution that would ensure its dominance over any government elected in 2011. The draft would block transparency of the defense budget and enable the military to intervene in Egyptian politics.

"The military's legacy gives it a special credibility," Tahani Gebali, a judge recruited to draft the constitution, said.

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In mid-July, the military, called the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, announced plans to adopt what it termed a "declaration of basic principles" that would guide any new constitution. Later, Egyptian sources said the principles would define the military's dominant role in society, particularly in fostering unity and secularism.

Several of the 50 judges recruited to draft the principles said the military intends to implement the document without any election or referendum. The judges said the model appeared to be that of Turkey, long dominated by the military.

Ms. Gebali said the jurists have been divided over proposals to grant the military dominance over Egypt's political system. She said most of those who want to grant the military such a role fear a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Over the last 60 years, Egypt's military has escaped civilian scrutiny. Parliament was never allowed to examine the military's budget or question operations. At the same time, the military developed a huge economic infrastructure that included a weapons industry, tourism, automobiles and electronics.

Egyptians have become increasingly critical of the military since its ouster of Mubarak in February. Over the last three months, the new military regime has been cracking down on dissent and turning a blind eye to attacks on Egypt's Christian minority.

Officials said the military would soon receive the draft principles, which could either be amended, adopted or presented for a referendum. They said the next Egyptian parliament, expected to be elected in November, would then work to draft a constitution.

"The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces does not want to stay in power," military spokesman Maj. Gen. Mamdouh Shahin said.

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