Egypt´s military chiefs get connected.

Questions are raised about the intentions of the Egyptian armed forces and if they will stretch to meet the people´s demands. Voices in the international community are concerned. With good reason. The military is the center of power and one of the wealthiest institutions in the country, with business interests that range from food processing to road constructions.

These days the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces is keeping a watchful gaze on the ministers and the redrafting of the constitution. They know that Egyptians who took control of the squares, streets and alleys can and will easily find their way back. Senior officers have pledged to never use force against Egyptians, that they have no political aspirations and will support the process to a civilian government.

How far Egyptian military chiefs will go to accommodate people’s demands on whether it is defense minister Tantawi, who is portrayed as conservative and close to Mubarak who will continue to be in charge. Or it will be chief of staff Enan who is younger and perceived as close to his classmates in the Pentagon. It is suggested that Americans are giving instructions. They most probably do.  After all the US gave $ 1.3 billion dollars to the Egyptian Armed Forces in 2010.  This comes with directions.

There is another reason that goes beyond politics and points to the fabrics of Egyptian society. Tantawi, Enan and the other generals represent a conscript army that recruits from a broad cross section of Egyptian society. It is a large army, with close to half a million in service and another half a million in reserve. In the squares and streets of Cairo the army was faced by tens of thousand and later millions of angry protesters. These are the same people who love and respect their military. The army chose to maintain their highly revered place in Egyptian society and did not use force against the people.

There is more. In Tahrir we saw how junior officers and ordinary soldiers found themselves protecting other young people. In Head Quarters staff officers received signals that some of their young men were sympathizing with the protesters. Instead of pressing charges, the military strongmen went online and launched their own Facebook. The page is dedicated to the “youth of Egypt who ignited the January 25 revolution and to its martyrs.” This is an effort to reach out to the country´s youthful population, including junior military personnel.