Egypt's divided military will want Mubarak to go with dignity

Washington, Feb.6 (ANI): Egypt's military brass, though divided over the fate of President Hosni Mubarak, would eventually like him to go with dignity.

According to General (retired) Anthony C. Zinni, a former head of the US Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East, the senior Egyptian military leadership would treat Mubarak, who once led the air force, with more respect.

"There's a realization this isn't going to work. As that becomes more evident, they're going to insist that it (Mubarak's removal) be done in a dignified way," the New York Times quoted General (retired) Zinni, as saying.

However, Ragui Assaad, an Egyptian and a professor at the University of Minnesota, predicted that the military would take a cold-blooded decision about Mubarak's future.

He said: "They are a rational, calculating institution. The moment they see it is not in their interest to retain him, they will usher him out."

Robert Springborg, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and an expert on the Egyptian military, said that the army had continued to cultivate its image as protector of the nation since the protests began in Egypt, as it held back from cracking down on hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Tahrir Square in Cairo.

Springborg said that he believed that the military's leadership was orchestrating events, and had been involved in allowing attacks against the protesters by pro-Mubarak forces on horseback and camels - but not by the army, so as not to taint it in the public eye.

"Behind the scenes, the military is making possible the various forms of assault on the protesters," Springborg said.

He added: "It's trying to secure a transition for itself. There's lots of evidence that the military is complicit, but for the most part Egyptians don't even want to admit that to themselves."

Western reporters on the ground in Tahrir Square say that it is hard to be so certain about the military leadership's actions and motives, but that over all, the army rank-and-file has shown sympathy with the protesters and the leadership has been either unwilling or unable to order its troops to fire on the demonstrators. (ANI)

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