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Prof. Hillel Frisch
No. 200

Iron Dome: Has the Euphoria Been Justified?
Prof. Avi Kober
No. 199

The US and Iran: Pre-Negotiation Maneuvering
Prof. Eytan Gilboa
No. 198

Mali: A Diplomatic Opportunity for Israel
Dr. Emmanuel Navon
No. 197

Morsi’s Egypt and Ahmadinejad’s Iran: Much Ado Over Next to Nothing
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No. 196

Abbas Is Part of the Problem, Not the Solution
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 195

Russia’s Declining Influence in the Middle East
Dr. Anna Geifman and Yuri Teper
No. 194

A Second Term Obama Administration and the Middle East
David Makovsky
No. 193

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Its True Intentions Towards Israel
Dr. Liad Porat
No. 192

Israel’s Dilemma in Gaza
Prof. Shmuel Sandler
No. 191

Building in Jerusalem: A Strategic Imperative
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 190

Operation Pillar of Defense: An Initial Strategic and Military Assessment
Dr. Eitan Shamir
No. 189

The Buddhist-Muslim Violence in Myanmar: A Threat to Southeast Asia
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No. 188

Morsi’s Dictatorship and the Gaza Ceasefire
Prof. Hillel Frisch
No. 187

Operation Pillar of Defense: In Support of a Ground Offensive
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Brothers in Arms: Would Hizballah and Hamas Join Iran in a War Against Israel?
Dr. Ehud Eilam
No. 185

Sunni Sectarianism and the Re-emergence of Jihadism in Indonesia
Dr. Micha’el Tanchum
No. 184

The Ostrich Syndrome: Understanding the World’s Reluctance to Take Action Against Iran
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 183

Will Egypt Go Nuclear?
Dr. Shaul Shay
No. 182

Mixed Messages: The US-Israel Dispute Over Iran
Prof. Eytan Gilboa
No. 181

Is There a Future for Israel’s National Security Council?
Prof. Uzi Arad and Amos Harel
No. 180

A Strategy for Making Peace with the Palestinians
Dr. Max Singer
No. 179

The Fading Left and Israel’s Flourishing Democracy
Shmuel Sandler and Efraim Inbar
No. 178

The Fate of Syria’s Chemical and Biological Weapons
Dr. Dany Shoham
No. 177

The Levy Report: Reinvigorating the Discussion of Israel’s Rights in the West Bank
Dr. Avi Bell
No. 176

Iran's New Strategic Horizons at Sea
Dr. Shaul Shay
No. 175

Invisible Red Line: The Futility of Trying to Detect an Iranian Order to Build the Bomb
Dr. Dany Shoham and Dr. Raphael Ofek
No. 174

"Iron Dome" vs. Grad Rockets: A Dress Rehearsal for an All-Out War?
Uzi Rubin
No. 173

The Cold War between Turkey and Iran
Dr. Can Kasapoglu
No. 172

הקרב בין "כיפת ברזל" לבין ה"גראד": חזרה כללית לקראת מלחמה כוללת?
עוזי רובין
No. 171

Is Turkey Getting Dragged into War with Syria?
Dr. Can Kasapoğlu
No. 170

After Toulouse: Combatting Anti-Semitism in France
Dr. Tsilla Hershco
No. 169

India Defies Oil Sanctions on Iran
Prof. P. R. Kumaraswamy
No. 168

The Opportunity in Gaza
Prof. Efraim Inbar and Dr. Max Singer
No. 167

Stopping Iran: Still Too Much Noise and Too Little Action
Prof. Eytan Gilboa
No. 166

The Republican Primaries and the Israel Acid Test
Dr. Jonathan Rynhold
No. 165

Strategic and Economic Roles of Defense Industries in Israel
Dr. Yaacov Lifshitz
No. 164

Might the Turkish Military Intervene in Syria?
Dr. Can Kasapoğlu
No. 163

The Amman Talks: Another Exercise in Futile Diplomacy
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 162

Missile Warfare: A Realistic Assessment
Haim Rosenberg
No. 161

The Iranian Nuclear Threat to Israel: Legal Remedies and Remaining Options
Dr. Louis René Beres
No. 160

Strategic Realignment and Energy Security in the Eastern Mediterranean
Dr. Alexander Murinson
No. 159

The Palestinians are Part of the Old Arab Order
Prof. Hillel Frisch
No. 158

Palestinians: Invented People
Prof. Michael Curtis
No. 157

The Threats in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 156

Egypt’s Constitutional Crisis: The Military versus the Islamists
Prof. Hillel Frisch
No. 155

The IAEA Report on Tehran’s Nuclear Program: It's Time to Hit Iran
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 154

Saudi Succession and Stability
Dr. Joshua Teitelbaum
No. 153

Why the Schalit Decision Makes Military Sense
Prof. Stuart A. Cohen
No. 152

מערכת ההגנה האקטיבית "כיפת ברזל" בפעולה: הערכה ראשונית
עוזי רובין
מספר 151

Iron Dome in Action: A Preliminary Evaluation
Uzi Rubin
No. 151

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back:
Women's Suffrage in Saudi Arabia
Dr. Joshua Teitelbaum
No. 150

Needed: A Leader in the White House
Prof. Eytan Gilboa
No. 149

After September Comes October
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 148

Empty Words: Saudi Blustering and US-Saudi Realities
Dr. Joshua Teitelbaum
No. 147

Get Tough with Turkey
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 146

Halting the Egyptian Drift
Jagdish N. Singh
No. 145

Gulf Monarchies Confront the “Arab Spring’”
Dr. Joshua Teitelbaum
No. 144

Netanyahu Turns Centrist and Triumphs
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 143

Towards Responsible Sovereignty
Dr. Amichai Magen
No. 142

The Obama Doctrine for the Middle East and its Consequences
Dr. Jonathan Rynhold
No. 141

Saudi Arabia, Iran and America in the Wake of the Arab Spring
Dr. Joshua Teitelbaum
No. 140

Confrontation along Israel’s Borders:
New Realities and a New Challenge
Dr. Mordechai Kedar
No. 139

Hamas and Fatah:
A Temporary Marriage of Convenience
Dr. Mordechai Kedar
No. 138

The Alawites and Israel
Prof. John Myhill
No. 137

The Delusion of Peace Initiatives
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 136

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and “the Day of Rage” that Wasn’t
Dr. Joshua Teitelbaum
No. 135

Covert Action for Toppling the Gaddafi Regime
Dr. Shlomo Shpiro
No. 134

Egypt’s Classic Strategic Triangle
Dr. Max Singer
No. 133

Turkey’s Changing Foreign Policy and its International Ramifications
Efraim Inbar
No. 132

The Plagues of Egypt
Dr. Mordechai Kedar
No. 131

It’s Iran, not Israel, Stupid
David M. Weinberg
No. 130

Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi: A Balance Sheet
Prof. Avi Kober
No. 129

US Policy Regarding the Upheaval in Egypt:
Endangering the Strategic Foundations of Regional Stability
Dr. Jonathan Rynhold
No. 128

Regional Ramifications of Unrest in Egypt
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 127

The Need for Minds over Hearts in the Egyptian Crisis
Prof. Hillel Frisch
No. 126

Lieberman and the Naked Emperor
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 125

Halt Nuclear Iran
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 124

Iran: The Flaws of Containment
Prof. Dustin Dehez
No. 123

A Salute to Stephen Harper
Prof. Efraim Inbar and David M. Weinberg
No. 122

Strategists: Primum Non Nocere
Prof. Yehezkel Dror
No. 121

Muslim Hypocrisy:
On the Violation of Religious Freedoms
Prof. Jonathan Fox
No. 120

The Struggle over Religious Edicts in Saudi Arabia
Dr. Joshua Teitelbaum
No. 119

Ending Oil’s Monopoly: The Role of Israel
Dr. Emmanuel Navon
No. 118

American Public Opinion Toward Iran's Nuclear Program: Moving Towards Confrontation
Prof. Eytan Gilboa
No. 117

The Tide Could Turn Against Radical Islam
Dr. Max Singer
No. 116

Obama Should Withdraw from Afghanistan, not Iraq
Prof. Hillel Frisch
No. 115

Is Israel More Isolated than Ever?
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 114

When the West Bankers Arrive in Washington…
Hillel Frisch
No. 113

Handling the “Tectonic Shift” in US Foreign Policy under Obama: A Strategy for Israel
Dr. Max Singer
No. 112

Gazans Deserve a Better Future
Efraim Inbar
No. 111

Iran Targets Azerbaijan
Dr. Alexander Murinson
No. 110

Déjà vu? France and the Gaza Flotilla
Dr. Tsilla Hershco
No. 109

Turkey Says Good Bye to Israel and the West
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 108

In Defense of Defense
Prof. Shmuel Sandler
No. 107

Pirates: Not Only in the Caribbean
Yoaz Hendel
No. 106

Prospects for Peace with the Palestinians
Max Singer
No. 105

The Armageddon Scenario:
Israel and the Threat of Nuclear Terrorism
Chuck Freilich
No. 104

Netanyahu Can Say "No"
Efraim Inbar
No. 103

Obama’s Pressure Will Backfire
Eytan Gilboa
No. 102

Despite Pundits, Netanyahu Wants Peace
Efraim Inbar
No. 101

The Prerequisite for Peace in the Middle East: Arab Recognition of the Legitimacy of Israel
Kenneth J. Bialkin
No. 100

Flaws in General Eiland's Alternatives
Stuart A. Cohen
No. 99

Understanding the Settlement Moratorium
Max Singer
No. 98

Islamic Imperialism:
The Ongoing Tragedy of the Middle East Thomas O. Hecht
No. 97

J Street Expands the Pro-Israel Tent
Dov Waxman
No. 96

Is Mahmoud Abbas Becoming Chairman Arafat?
Hillel Frisch
No. 95

J Street's Spiritual Conceit David M. Weinberg
No. 94

Mitchell's Mission Impossible
Efraim Inbar
No. 93

An Open Letter To My Turkish Friends
Efraim Inbar
No. 92

Obama and the Middle East
Efraim Inbar
No. 91

The Fatah Conference: Finally an Abbas Victory
Hillel Frisch
No. 90

Apprehensive Allies:
India and Israel in the Obama Era
S. Samuel C. Rajiv
No. 89

Mideast "Experts" Got Iraq Wrong
Max Singer
No. 88

A Jewish and Non-Legitimate State
Mordechai Kedar
No. 87

The Lone Terrorist
Yoaz Hendel
No. 86

O Ali, O Husayn!
An Ancient Shi‘ite Paradigm Haunts Today’s Islamic Republic
Ze’ev Maghen
No. 85

Is it Time to Update the 1985 US-Israel Free Trade Agreement, in View of EU Neighborhood Policy?
Arie Reich
No. 84

Netanyahu Has Become Mainstream Israel
Efraim Inbar
No. 83

Netanyahu and Sarkozy:
Personal Chemistry versus Political Disagreements
Tsilla Hershco
No. 82

Too Clever By Half?
The Problematics of Demilitarization and Other Shadows in Prime Minister Netanyahu's BESA Center Speech
Stuart A. Cohen
No. 81

Netanyahu's Begin-Sadat Center Speech: An Attempt at Consensus Diplomacy
Dr. Jonathan Rynhold
No. 80

President Obama's Cairo Speech: The Question Left Unanswered – Iran
Dr. Jonathan Rynhold
No. 79

What about the Jewish Nakba?
Ben-Dror Yemini
No. 78

Israel and NATO: A Good Idea Whose Time Will Never Come
Josef Joffe
No. 77

Elections in Lebanon: A Hizballah Takeover?
Mordechai Kedar
No. 76

A Growing Divergence between Jerusalem and Washington?
Efraim Inbar
No. 75

Olmert's Palestinian Failures
Efraim Inbar
No. 74

Warfare through Misuse of International Law
Elizabeth Samson
No. 73

Obama and Netanyahu: Idealism vs. Pragmatism
Eytan Gilboa
No. 72

Global Consequences of the Financial Crisis: A Closer Look to Chinese Prospects
Fernando Navarrete
No. 71

The Decline of the Israel Labor Party
Efraim Inbar
No. 70

An Active Defense against Rockets and Missiles:
The Lessons of Operation Cast Lead and The 2006 Lebanon War
Uzi Rubin
No. 69

הגנה אקטיבית בפני רקטות וטילים:
לקחי "עופרת יצוקה" ומלחמת לבנון השנייה
עוזי רובין
מס' 69

The Futility of Operation Cast Lead
Stuart A. Cohen
No. 68

Israel in 2009: A One-Block State of the Right
Hillel Frisch
No. 67

An Offensive Strategy for Israel on the Second Battlefield: The Global Media
David Horovitz
No. 66

The Political Logic of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's Attacks on Israel
Gil Feiler and Edo Harel
No. 65

Why Time is on Israel’s Side:
A Long-Term Perspective on Israel's Security Challenges
Max Singer
No. 64

No to the Reconstruction of Gaza
Efraim Inbar
No. 63

Obama and the Muslim Cold War
Hillel Frisch
No. 62

The Domestic Dimension of Operation Cast Lead in Israel and in Gaza
Shmuel Sandler
No. 61

Egypt Is Not Going to Stop the Smuggling into Gaza
Efraim Inbar & Mordechai Kedar
No. 60

Europe May Yet Long For George W. Bush
Rafael L. Bardají
No. 59

מבצע "עופרת יצוקה" בראי אתרי החמאס
טל פבל
מס' 58

The Need for a Decisive Israeli Victory Over Hamas
Hillel Frisch
No. 57

Why Israel Must Have Victory in Gaza
Max Singer
No. 56

Hamas: A Case of Strategic Suicide
Hillel Frisch
No. 55

Has the IDF Earned the Support of the Israeli Public? An Interim Assessment of the IDF's Performance in Operation Cast Lead
Stuart A. Cohen
No. 54

Israel's Operation Against Hamas in Gaza: The Need for Realistic Goals
Efraim Inbar
No. 53

U.S. Foreign Policy after the Elections: Pragmatism, But in What Direction?
Harvey Sicherman
No. 52

Rabin and the Oslo Process Revisited
Efraim Inbar
No. 51

President Obama and the Middle East Challenge
Jonathan Rynhold
No. 50

Invading Georgia: The Opening Shot in a Grand Russian Strategy to Challenge the West Through the Domination of the Energy Market
Efraim Inbar
No. 49

Sarkozy in Syria: Discrepancies in French Mideast Policy
Tsilla Hershco
No. 48

The Declinists Are Wrong Again
Robert J. Lieber
No. 47

Sarkozy's Presidency
Tsilla Hershco
No. 46

The Failure of the Oslo Process: Inherently Flawed or Flawed Implementation?
Jonathan Rynhold
No. 45

UNRWA: Barrier to Peace
Jonathan Spyer
No. 44

A Hopeful Iraq: Two Dangers Averted
Max Singer
No. 43

Israel at 60 Remains a Success Story
Efraim Inbar
No. 42

Iran’s Deceptive Commercial Practices
Emanuele Ottolenghi
No. 41

Shelve the Shelf Agreement
David M. Weinberg
No. 40

France, the European Union and the Middle East in the Sarkozy Era
Tsilla Hershco
No. 39

Gaza: Risks and Opportunities
Efraim Inbar
No. 38

How Stable is Pakistan?
Jonathan Paris
No. 37

The Mideast Axis of Destabilization
Ely Karmon
No. 36

U.S. Kosovo Policy Is Bad for Israel
James Jatras and Serge Trifkovic
No. 35

The Threat of al Qaeda and its Allies in Lebanon
Shaul Shay
No. 34

The False "Crisis" in Military Recruitment: An IDF Red Herring
Stuart A. Cohen
No. 33

Bush Cannot Succeed in the Holy Land
Efraim Inbar
No. 32

מה לעשות בנושא הפלשתיני?
אפרים ענבר
מס' 31

Strategic Folly and Shame: Personal Reflections on a Visit to Beleaguered Sderot
David M. Weinberg
No. 30

The French Presidential Elections of May 2007: Implications for French-Israeli Relations
Tsilla Hershco
No. 29

The Iran-Hamas Alliance: Threat and Folly
Hillel Frisch
No. 28

The Iranian Dilemma: Preventing Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Capabilities
Mordechai Kedar
No. 27

The French Presidential Elections of May 2007: Implications for French-Israeli Relation
Tsilla Hershco
No. 26

The Illusion of "Peace in Exchange for Territories"
Mordechai Kedar
No. 25

The Palestinians and the Second Lebanese War
Dr. Hillel Frisch
No. 24

US Strategy in the Middle East:
Effects of the 2006 Congressional Elections and the Baker-Hamilton Report
Prof. Eytan Gilboa
No. 23

The Second Lebanon War
Dr. Avi Kober
No. 22

Strategic Follies: Israel's Mistakes in the Second Lebanese War
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 21

Proportionality in the Modern Law of War: An Unenforceable Norm, or the Answer to our Dilemma?
Dr. Amichai Cohen
No. 20

Time to Tame Syria
Prof. Efraim Inbar
No. 19

Confronting the New Nasser in Iran
Jonathan Paris
No. 18

Centrism in Israeli Politics and the Olmert Government
Shmuel Sandler
No. 17

Defining a New International System in a World Threatened by Jihad: The Danger of a Transatlantic Divide
Thomas O. Hecht
No. 16

The Million Person Gap: A Critical Look at Palestinian Demography
Bennett Zimmerman, Roberta Seid and Michael L. Wise
No. 15

Iran and the West: Who Needs Whom?: A Look at the Consequences of Ahmadinejad’s Economic and Foreign Policies
Gil Feiler
No. 14

The Hamas Takeover Serves Israel's Interests
Hillel Frisch
No. 13

The Imperative to Use Force Against Iranian Nuclearization
Efraim Inbar
No. 12

British Policy Towards the Middle East
Jonathan Rynhold
No. 11

Religious Zionism Revisits the State of Israel
Shmuel Sandler
No. 10

Egypt and its Involvement in the Disengagement Process: Strategic, Regional and International spects
Rami Ginat
No. 9

The Perils and Promise
of Pax Americana in the Muslim Middle East
Ze’ev Maghen
No. 8

Europe, America and Israel:
The Need to Promote Democracy and Freedom
José María Aznar
No. 7

French Perceptions of the Middle East
Tsilla Hershco
No. 6

The Next Move
in the Iraqi War of Reconstruction
Gil Feiler and Simon Lassman
No. 5

Defeating Arafat’s War:
The IDF’s Success Against Asymmetric Warfare
Gerald M. Steinberg
No. 4

The IDF’s Record in the Current Intifada:
An Interim Scorecard
Stuart Cohen
No. 3

American-Israeli Relations in Bush's Second Term
Eytan Gilboa
No. 2

Abu-Mazen's Succession Strategy
Hillel Frisch
No. 1


Perspectives Papers on Current Affairs

Perspectives 200

March 12, 2013

Egypt’s Army Will Not Intervene

Prof. Hillel Frisch

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Hopes or expectations that the Egyptian military will intervene in the deteriorating political and security crisis are probably misguided. The army is loath to take on the well-organized and powerful Muslim Brotherhood because the majority of its soldiers support the Islamist government. It also wants to avoid losing financial backing from the US, which would not support a military coup.

Those calling for the Egyptian army to intervene, or believe that it will do so to avert growing unrest, range from former Egyptian justice officials and minor Egyptian politicians to journalists both within and outside Egypt. However, such hopes or expectations are probably misguided. The probability that the Egyptian army will be willing to retake the reins of power – or is even capable of doing so, after Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi unceremoniously sent its leaders back to their barracks in August 2012 – is highly unlikely, if not impossible.

Taking over the reins of power means, above all, removing Egypt’s first elected president, as well as confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood, by far the most disciplined and organized political force in the country. Such a move would inevitably spur massive urban demonstrations and, further down the line, wide-scale urban guerrilla warfare.

This is where the lessons gleaned from the American experience in Iraq and the two-year standoff between Bashar Assad’s Alawite-led army and the Free Syrian Army come into effect. Both experiences demonstrated that even well-trained, well-equipped, and motivated armies cannot control dense urban areas. The Americans and their Iraqi allies never totally subdued the Sunni guerrilla movements, and Assad’s Alawites have proven to be even less successful in their confrontation with Syrian rebels. These forces operated in urban areas ranging between 2.5-3.5 million people, while the Egyptian army has a megalopolis of 12 million inhabitants to contain. At best the Egyptian army would face a long war of attrition. Unlike the US force manned by motivated volunteers and a Syrian army composed mostly of loyal Alawites who fear the fall of an Alawite regime, the Egyptian higher command can only be worried about the loyalty of its rank and file in backing them in such a move.

For starters, the Egyptian army has never been indoctrinated to defend the home front. Under former presidents Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak it was the Central Security Forces (CSF), Egypt’s gendarmerie, which was allotted the task. These leaders balked at using the armed forces against the jihadist threat that plagued Egypt in the 1980s and mid-1990s partially because of the successful penetration of Islamists into army ranks. The leader of the team that assassinated Sadat was a lieutenant-colonel.

The problem is hardly a matter of a small number of infiltrators. At least half of the army recruits, it must be assumed, are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, who comprise 30 percent of the Egyptian electorate. The Egyptian army hardly recruits Copts or the Sunni Egyptian upper class that equals roughly 20 percent of the population. The implications of such a recruitment pattern are that the secular and liberals are severely underrepresented in the army and the Islamists overrepresented. It is only a small section of the former group that would support the army’s intervention in the political crisis.

Both the nature of indoctrination and the army’s composition explain why the army, neither during Mubarak’s ouster or ever since, has not been willing to confront demonstrators, and why the scene of junior officers and soldiers joining protesters became so common.

A most recent example was the city of Port Said, where protesters have been involved in widespread violence protesting the harsh sentences meted out to supporters of the local football team for their role in the killing of 72 Cairo football fans during a match last year, and which has since taken a political turn against the Muslim Brotherhood government. As headlines from the world’s newspapers informed their readers that the army intervened to quell unrest, the photos showed troops joining forces with demonstrators against the CSF. Since Mubarak’s ouster, only very small units within the army, the military police, or its naval counterpart have confronted demonstrators. In those cases, officials were protecting public buildings and had wide-scale public backing to do so.

An additional reason why the military has not intervened in the political crisis is the carrot that Morsi’s new constitution offered the military – budgetary autonomy – and a recent hefty salary rise. One can therefore hardly expect the military to intervene politically and even less to act effectively once it intervenes.

Finally, the army realizes that the United States is strongly opposed to military intervention almost anywhere, and especially so against the Morsi government it presently backs. In toppling the Morsi government the army would be jeopardizing United States aid amounting to over one-fifth of the Egyptian military’s budget ($1.3 billion out of a total $5.85 billion), a considerable transfer of technology, and spare parts and replacements its American-equipped forces inevitably need.

Resolution of Egypt’s political problems rests solely on Egypt’s politicians and citizens. Morsi is counting on his ability to complete his constitutional takeover of power with the running of parliamentary elections in April. The liberal and secular opposition is banking on continued instability and economic hardship to tarnish the image and popularity of the Morsi government and force it into making a grand bargain with them.

The whole situation is fraught with danger and worries that the bargaining process will get out of hand and degenerate into civil war. At least one scenario is unlikely: the return of the army to the corridors of political power.

Prof. Hillel Frisch is a professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University, and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

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