Why has Egypt's army not confronted the protests?
(McClatchy Newspapers) -- by Nancy A. Youssef --
WASHINGTON — As unprecedented protests have led to national chaos in Egypt, the Egyptian army has taken no decisive action to end the conflict, leaving experts to wonder which of four possibilities are governing the army's actions.
Does the military sympathize with the protesters or is it just waiting for the right moment to intervene? Is it divided internally about the proper response or does it see itself not as the protector of President Hosni Mubarak's regime but of the Egyptian state?
"There doesn't seem to be a signal clear line that the military is taking," said Joel Beinin, a professor of Middle East history at Stanford University. "They haven't been ordered to do anything one way or the other. We are still in a freeze moment. Everyone understands the Mubarak regime has lost credibility. My guess is the army is deciding what it will do next."
As protests continued on Sunday, the army remained the bulwark of state legitimacy even as it co-existed peacefully with protesters who spray-painted anti-Mubarak slogans on tanks and hoisted army officers on their shoulders.
The Egyptian air force sent F-16 fighter jets over the protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square, but some soldiers appeared to have joined the protests. Throughout Cairo, men armed with kitchen knives and sticks captured looters, then handed them to the army, confident the military would take care of the problem. The mere sight of soldiers on the streets elicited applause.
The army's position reflects the military's long status as the face of Egyptian nationalism. The army's seeming ambivalence toward the protests also may be an indication that its leaders understand that keeping its revered status is more important than preserving the Mubarak government...MORE...LINK