Uncertainty over which way Egyptian military-led by Mubarak's 'poodle' will swing

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Cairo, Feb 5(ANI): The loyalties of the 470,000-strong Egyptian military are currently unclear despite the turmoil in the country, US officials and experts have said.

"The biggest question for the Egyptian military is whether or not there will be a whole-scale change in the Egyptian elite, because the senior military officers are so much a part of that elite. . . . They may be indifferent on whether Mubarak stays or leaves," the Washington Post quoted an official with extensive experience in the Middle East and Egypt, as saying.

Another former U.S. military official said that the Egyptian Defense Minister, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, is not a strong leader, and has long been derided by some Egyptian military officers as President Hosni Mubarak's "poodle".

"If you are a general in the Egyptian army, you are beholden to Mubarak. You were handpicked by Mubarak," the official said.

"What you have is bureaucrats who were promoted because they were good managers and were loyal to Mubarak and Tantawi," the official added.

In March 2008, a few days before Tantawi was scheduled to make a four-day visit to the United States, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo gave a blunt assessment of his abilities in a cable to the State Department.Washington interlocutors should be prepared to meet an aged and change-resistant Tantawi," the cable, signed by then-Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone and subsequently released by WikiLeaks, stated.

"He and Mubarak are focused on regime stability and maintaining the status quo through the end of their time. They simply do not have the energy, inclination or world view to do anything differently," it added. (ANI)

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