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Egypt's transitional struggles

By Julie Bishop - posted Thursday, 21 June 2012

The euphoria within many elements of Egyptian society at the removal from power of former dictator Hosni Mubarak has now given way to uncertainty, scepticism and even cynicism.

This is due to the power struggle that is now under way between the military that backed Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is clear that the uprising did not achieve the regime change that many anticipated or expected.


The military transitional government instituted after Mubarak's removal, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), has consistently stated that it intends to transfer power to a civilian government.

Through its actions however it has sought to entrench its power within Egypt.

Clearly concerned about the potential for the Muslim Brotherhood candidate to win the presidential election, it granted itself greatly increased powers by issuing a decree the day before the election.

This is about much more than political power and the military's operating budget.

Egypt's military has become enmeshed in the nation's broader economy and estimates of its influence vary from 5 per cent to 40 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.

The web of investments and financial holdings is largely secret and very few people know to whom the profits of these enterprises flow.


The chief financial officer of the SCAF Major General Mahmoud Nasr reportedly said recently that the military was prepared to fight for control of its assets and that, "We have been building them for 33 years and we won't give them to anyone else to destroy."

One retired military officer has sought to downplay the scale of these investments and claimed they were small interests that relate to clubs, entertainment and supplies for the military itself.

Others believe that the financial interests are huge and not only play a crucial role within Egypt but also involve huge off-shore investments in companies and assets located around the world.

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About the Author

Julie Bishop is the Federal Member for Curtin, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.

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