International Affairs Middle East — 29 October 2011
Egypt Prisoner Swap with Israel: Undermining or improving credibility?

The Egyptian press has recently been flooded with stories concerning the proposed prisoner exchange between Egypt and Israel. The transaction would involve the exchange of one Israeli, accused of spying for 25 Egyptians.

This exchange follows the recent prisoner exchange between the Palestinians and Israel, with the Egyptian military junta being highly praised for its mediation.

It is clear that the Egyptian military is trying to improve its image given the heavy criticism it has received for its failure to withdraw from Egyptian politics, letdown in meeting the demands of the revolutionaries and its recent heavy handed approach in dealing with Christian protestors, with many being killed and injured.

This severely dented the image of the Egyptian military, from being a knight in shining armour to that of a beast stained with blood.

By this increased activity the Egyptian military is building bridges with the US and Israel and at the same time repairing its image among the Egyptian population.

It is unlikely this is going to stem the criticism it has received, with the revolutionaries continue to call for its withdrawal from Egyptian politics and its warming to Israel, is not going down well with the revolutionaries, with a key revolutionary demand being the negation of the Camp David Agreement with the occupying Israeli state.

The Egyptian population is more politically astute than it has ever been, given the increase in political activity post Mubarak and the Military regime is not going to get away with such cosmetic measures, as the revolutionaries perceive the military to be safeguarding the cronies of the past regime and protecting Mubarak, given that his trial so far been characterised as being a drama than a real court case.

At the same time it has received criticism for not putting General Tantawi, a right hand man of Mubarak on trial and for it not bringing the former Intelligence Chief, Umar Suleyman out from the woodworks, to be accounted for his crimes.

Egypt is far from stable, with the revolution not complete, more instability is expected in the near future, with parliamentary elections scheduled for next month and all eyes will be on the military to see whether it plays an impartial role or not, given that previously it acted as a backbone for the Mubarak party and supported the secular regime, allowing it to secure a huge amount of wealth.

The Egyptian military is finding it difficult to let go of its grip on power, and is trying to exert itself oneself again. The military needs to realise that its role is to support the aspirations of the people, not that of itself, or the US or Israel. This is the dilemma that the military needs to overcome, once it does one will see the beginning of real change, with the military relaxing its grip on power and meeting the demands of the people, rather than playing host to political drama’s, which will resume with the parliamentary elections in November.

 

Dr. Mohammed Zahid is an academic in Middle East politics, with a special focus on North Africa and Islamic movements. He has published widely in peer reviewed journals and provided consultation to a number of governmental bodies and private institutions. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect New Civilisation’s editorial policy.

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