The Muslim Brotherhood’s “Ramadan Coup” against the generals was not Egypt’s last transformational convulsion. Ramadan Coup No. 2 is next. DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military and intelligence sources predict that the Brotherhood is preparing to take control of the Egyptian Interior Ministry’s vast army of security personnel with the same efficiency as its takeover of the army.
This force of an estimated 900,000 men – three times the size of the army – is the government’s traditional instrument of power. Its takeover is of greater political impact than the capture of the top army echelon, because this vital buttress would round off Muslim Brotherhood’s complete control of Egypt for many years to come.
Already in place as Interior Minister is the Islamist Ahmed Gemal Eddine. The security forces he commands consist of four branches:
The General Security and Central Security Forces:
This 350,000-strong paramilitary unit is responsible for assisting the Egyptian National Police (ENP) in securing governmental sites, foreign embassies and missions, in the control of riots and crowd events, in high-risk arrests, disaster response and in SWAT operations.
The CSF’s Director General ranks as Assistant Minister.
Under him are:
A Main Headquarters –MHQ
A Special Operations Command
Specialized Training Institutes
Twelve Operational Regions: Cairo, Alexandria, Giza, Central & Western Nile Delta, Eastern Nile Delta, Suez Canal & Sinai, Southern Upper Egypt, and Northern Upper Egypt..
The Central Investigations Branch – Mabachis: This dread interrogation and intelligence arm has always defied any outside control – even when Hosni Mubarak was in power – obeying no rules except its own. Infamous for their cruel and vicious methods of interrogation, any thought of falling into Mabachi hands strikes terror in the hearts of every Egyptian.
The Border Guards: Egypt’s Border Guard Force is organized in 18 border guard regiments. It is a lightly armed paramilitary unit, mostly Bedouins, responsible for border surveillance, for which it is equipped with remote sensors, night-vision binoculars, communications vehicles, and high-speed motorboats.
The National Police: Egypt’s “boys in blue.”
Brotherhood leaders hatched the takeover scheme
When the Muslim Brotherhood finishes taking over all these branches, the Islamist movement and its president, Mohamed Morsi, will be masters of Egypt’s military, security and intelligence infrastructure.
Five largely unknown facts are relevant to the full understanding of the transformation in Egypt, say DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military and intelligence sources:
1. The big brain that purged Egypt’s veteran generals did not belong to President Morsi as widely presumed in the West and the Middle East, including Israel: The scheme was conceived and executed by Muslim Brotherhood leaders Mohammed Badie and Khairat El-Shater. The latter’s run for the presidency was disqualified by those same generals, heads of the Supreme Military Council who ruled Egypt after Mubarak’s overthrow until this week.
After obtaining a nod from Obama administration officials and military chiefs, the two MB leaders presented the legal documents to Morsi. All he had to do was sign on the dotted line for the generals to be sent into retirement and their replacements slotted in to the top military posts.
By this act, Badie and El-Shater made themselves the most powerful men in Egypt today.
Obama is in on the Ramadan Coup and enlists the Qatari emir
2. US President Barack Obama was in on the secret of the Muslim Brotherhood’s takeover and approved some of its moves, though not all, as will be seen below.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Washington and Persian Gulf sources report that when he learned from the Brothers that the national bank in Cairo had no cash to fund the coup or even to keep the population fed for the next month, an essential condition for its success, the US administration stepped in and turned to Qatari ruler
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
Sunday morning, Aug. 12, he arrived in Cairo with half a billion dollars in cash to put down on Morsi’s desk. To this, the emir added a pledge of another two billion dollars which Qatar and other Gulf states would soon deposit in Cairo, on top of the aid dollars coming in from Washington. Only then, did Badie and El-Shater order the scheme for ousting the generals to go forward.
3. This sequence of events is one more example of the Obama administration’s close collaboration with the Qatari ruler in steps for achieving its strategic objectives in the Arab world.
In 2011, the special forces of Qatar’s small army, its intelligence and coffers were placed at the disposal of the revolution for overturning Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in Libya. Qataris actually fought in the decisive takeover of Tripoli.
This year, Qatar has been fronting the Obama administration’s behind-the-scenes effort to topple Bashar Assad in Damascus. And this month, Sheikh Hamad Al Thani was again on hand to help tip the Egyptian military out of their seats of power in Cairo.
An outspoken critic of the US is new defense minister
But just as US officials were often surprised by the Qatari emir’s willingness to support the most radical Islamist elements in Libya and Syria – even those linked to al Qaeda – they were taken aback again this week in Cairo.
Washington had not bargained for the man chosen to step into the shoes of Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, as defense minister to be Abdel Fattah El-Sissi. Now promoted to Field Marshal, this ambitious officer is noted for his outspoken criticism of US Middle East policy and military presence.
For now, the Obama administration is learning to live with him
4. Has the Supreme Military Council survived the “Ramadan Coup” after its leading members – chairman, ground, air and naval chiefs – were put out to pasture?
President Morsi’s masters not only sacked them but divorced the generals from the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Industry, a historical step which stripped them of their business empire which, together with control of the US military aid package, underpinned their independence and influence. From control of one-third of the Egyptian economy, the heads of the military have been reduced to dependants of the state.
It is hard to tell what has become of the SCAF as an organized elite group. It still exists on paper, but the radical reshuffle of the Egyptian High Command has appropriated the reins of power held for 17 months by the veteran generals and appointed a new generation of officers in their place.
Washington did not tip Jerusalem off
5. Neither President Obama or any leading member of his administration, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, or CIA chief David Petraeus, put Israel in the picture or even hinted at what was happening in Cairo, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence and Washington sources report. This omission has deepened the distrust between Washington and Jerusalem.
Israeli leaders were left to be caught off guard by the overnight disappearance of Egyptian figures with whom they had worked amicably for years – especially on common security concerns.
The sudden emergence of new faces is deeply disquieting in a neighbor with whom Israel maintained peaceful relations since 1979.