Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sergeants Shape Destiny

Egypt is in flux, and for the moment at least, as Hosni Mubarak is forced to abdicate, the Egyptian military will administer power over the nation. Those armed forces who now hold the key to the country are a mixed bag at best. The professional officer corps spawned Egypt's last three leaders, the seminal Gamal Abdel Nasser, the first and most notable of the pan-Arabist statesmen, Anwar El Sadat, who paid with his life for the cold peace he forged with Israel, and current mis-leader Hosni Mubarak, who started public life as an air force pilot. The current officer corps is universally literate, essentially professional but in large part comprised of those with deep connections to the Mubarak regime and with a high degree of loyalty to Mubarak for many officers bordering on toadyism. The enlisted men of Egyptian forces have been trained to a high degree of literacy but have been drawn from relatively impoverished classes where military service has naturally been seen as a step up and a good opportunity. The sympathies of many in the lower ranks are with the street protesters and more specifically with the Muslim Brotherhood itself. The non-commissioned officers of Egypt may now hold the future of Egypt in their hands. Where their loyalties abide will determine whether Egypt remains a friend of the West and at peace with Israel or whether enough have shared beliefs with the Muslim Brothers that Egypt is lost to the camp of like thinkers Iran and Syria and becomes Israel's and America's newest implacable foe in the Middle East.

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