Egypt's Islamists driven into the arms of an old enemy

When he walked on to Tahrir Square to show himself to the revolutionaries, he was greeted with joy. Whatever qualms the crowds harboured in their hearts about being ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood’s political offshoot, the Freedom and Justice Party, there was a feeling that civilians would at last be running Egypt. …

According to Ahmed El Sharif, a political science lecturer at the American University of Cairo, the new draft constitution to be put to referendum on December 15 is the work of the military, the Muslim Brotherhood and their ultra-traditionalist allies, the Salafists. It allows the army to continue to be “a state within a state”.

This sounds surprising. It was Mr Morsi who forced the resignation of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the military junta that took power after the departure of Hosni Mubarak. That did indeed happen, but the generals did not need much arm-twisting to go back to the barracks. They had discovered that they were poorly equipped to rule in a hectic postrevolutionary situation. Governing ate away at the army’s prestige.

The draft constitution shows that in return for going quietly, they have preserved many of their prerogatives.