This is an edited excerpt of a translated transcript from an interview with Mohamed Waked. The entire interview is worth reading for its additional insights into the constitutional amendment process and the many new “emergency laws” that are replicating the same repressive structure as the old one.
Mohamed: First of all, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF] is currently the ruling entity. It occupies the roles of president of the republic and parliament. It holds both the executive and legislative powers at the same time. At the outbreak of the revolution, one of [the latter’s] attributes was that it was not able to rule. A revolution occurred, deposed the sitting president, but did not succeed in arriving to power. The army then came to power by delegation from Husni Mubarak.
When the Council came to power on the 28th [of January], the police force [had] crumbled. A strange situation ensued when the police crumbled. The entire country of Egypt had no police. The police was afraid to come out. [The Council] pursued officers [and we have spoken to many of them] asking them to return to work. “No we shall not,” they said, “we are getting beaten [up].” The collapse of the police force put the Council in a very dangerous situation. It took at least two months to get the police officers to return again. [02:00]
The officers of the Central Security Forces returned to their villages. Suddenly, you had a highly despotic, autocratic regime, [previously] dependant on a police force that is one million and two hundred thousand strong, lose this force without being able to restore it. So the army deployed to secure [the streets] under the instructions of Husni Mubarak. When Husni Mubarak left, he relinquished power to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. [02:34]
When the Supreme Council seized power, the police force had not yet returned. You had the army taking a hold of power in Egypt as well as grasping the legislative power by entrustment from Husni Mubarak without being accompanied by the police while only being comprised of 400,000 individuals, whereas to keep Egypt at bay as Mubarak had necessitates 1,200,000 people. This is what delineated the current situation.
[the Council] constitutes the executive and legislative bodies simultaneously. Since it came to power, the army did not want to clash with the protestors and vice versa (meaning the [protesters with] the military council), because both sides would lose. The military council would not have been able to keep its autocratic control of the country without the police forces and the popular forces could not clash with the police. The often-repeated slogan of this phase was: “The people and the army are one hand.” Since you would not want them to hit you, and they would not want you to hit them, they would say: “inta habibi” [“you are are my buddy”]. Despite that, a large segment of the Egyptian people apotheosize the army for historical reasons related to the Nasserist period. In this fashion, they came to power and “the people and the army are one hand.”
[The army] was supposed to sponsor the revolution, or so it claimed. It quickly became apparent that there were many problems and that it did not intent to effectuate real or fundamental change. All they intended to do was to change a few figures, detain a few businessmen, throw them in prison and that was the end of it
in the last three to four months, at least seven to ten thousand people (and the count differs) were tried by military courts for different reasons which include hooliganism [baltaga]. The sentences [that were given] varied between three and five years.
In comparison with Husni Mubarak’s C.V., this number and these sentences made him look like an angel. They put seven thousand people behind bars in three months with extremely repugnant sentences after one court date only. If you were really lucky, they would give you two court days. This is the beginning of the friction. This shows you the extent of the friction
What does the law that bans strikes and protests tell you? This law penalizes everyone that engages in (a), (b), or (c) while the state of emergency is in effect. This means that this is an emergency law, to be removed with the state of emergency and to be imposed with the state of emergency. This is a second emergency law. One of the main demands of the revolution was to remove the old state of emergency. Instead of removing it, they made a new one to be based on the constitutional memorandum which [the Supreme Council] put in place at their own discretion. The constitutional memorandum allows [the Supreme Council] to put this law in place, but it also created the articles which we were never consulted on.
In conclusion, the nature of rule is tense [given that] the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is trying to reproduce the same regime in all its shapes and forms to the extent that they leave many of the [old] figures [entact]. Hossam Badrawi, the ex-Secretary General of the National [Democratic] Party attended the most recent national dialogue, which they [SCAF] sponsored. They are coming to discuss the future of Egypt. They’re trying to recreate the system as is while also producing new parties (in form). Even it’s treatment of the Muslim Brotherhood is in line with the old method by which the Brotherhood only enters the center of the parliament (else they will most likely be beaten up) so that they only receive thirty percent of the vote. It’s the same tale as 2005, the elections of 2005.
This reproduction of the regime is more or less identical. There are a few things they cannot do in the same way
This puts the Council in an extremely embarrassing situation. On the one hand, it cannot repress in the old ways because it does not have as much power as the old regime. On the other hand, it wants to recreate the same regime. [So] the situation in Egypt is tense and God knows what we will come to and who will prevail. The goals of each side are well known, and there is no doubt that the [Supreme] Council of the Armed Forces is trying to recreate the old regime.