Apr 11, 2012
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

To SCAF or not to SCAF

Khairat Al-Shater (center) greets supporters in Egypt

Contrary to what we might read at the Washington Post about the untrustworthiness of the SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of Egypt), 80% of Egyptians express more confidence in the council and the military in general than they do in local leaders. They also believe that the presidential election will be fair and transparent and that the SCAF will transfer power over smoothly.

These somewhat controversial statements were made by Mohamed Younis, senior analyst for the Gallup Center of Islamic Studies, during a POMED panel here in DC on April 4. The panel discussed “The Feasibility of the Turkish Model for Egypt”. Younis recently published a paper in the “Turkish Policy Quarterly” on the role of Turkey in the region and the potential influence it can have on the process of democratization in Egypt.

By the way, the theme of the panel might have been a bit limited, considering Younis findings about which models Egyptians see as desirable. He says Turkey is not a clear winner, with 26% of Egyptians favoring Saudi Arabia.

But back to the SCAF: he argues that the body remains “the last standing national structure”, and since Egyptians did not want the collapse of the state –only the fall of the regime—the audience should not assume that SCAF’s credibility is dwindling. Younis’ opinions are informed by Gallup surveys conducted as early as February.

There are risks not discussed by the polls, though. The relationship between the SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood is getting sour. Say the MB candidate, Khairat al-Shater, wins the presidential election in May: will the SCAF transfer the power to the islamists as easily as Egyptians expect? Of course, this is just an exercise of imagination. For now.

While they try to assuage concerns in Washington, the MB is experiencing more opposition from other secular bodies and authorities as well:  just yesterday, the Cairo Administrative Court suspended the panel selected to draft the country’s new Constitution. The panel was appointed by the Parliament, who happens to be dominated by the MB and other islamists, and the suspension followed complaints by political groups (mostly secular) for the fact that half of the 100 seats were given to lawmakers.

All in all, the state of the Egyptian political scenario continues to look very murky, and nothing indicates things will clear up in the short term.


1 Comment

  • These results do not surprise me. I think Egyptians can distinguish between the SCAF, which maintains security, and the villains from the Mubarak regime – they are not the same people. Of course it looks murky and it will continue to look murky for years to come. Do not expect a rapid transition to democracy in Egypt. The SCAF is not about to walk away and no one in Egypt has the power to make it do so. If Egypt transitions to democracy – and there is no guarantee it will – it will take many years of complex negotiations and there will probably be a lot of backsliding. This is the model prediction, in any event.

Leave a comment

Founded in 2004, Democracy and Society is a biannual print journal published by the Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown University. The D&S Blog provides web-only content, including special reports and investigative series, on issues relating to democracy and development.

Email Subscription to D&S and Blog

* indicates required

Posts by Region

Posts by Topic

Switch to our mobile site