While justifying its intervention in politics as serving the will of the people, the military has never been a force for democracy. It has one primary objective, analysts said: preserving national stability and its untouchable realm of privilege within the Egyptian state…

For decades, however, its tens of thousands of elite officers have jealously guarded their privileged station. They live as a class apart, with their own social clubs, hotels, hospitals, parks and other benefits financed by the state.

Many have also grown wealthy through government contracts and business deals facilitated by their positions. It is, in some respects, a hereditary Brahmin caste, in which sons follows their fathers’ careers and they all live inside a closed social circle.

“It is a tightly knit group,” said Robert Springborg, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., and an expert on the Egyptian military. “They tend to think alike and they are a force to be reckoned with because, besides the Brotherhood, they are the only really cohesive institution in the country.”