The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the body which has ruled Egypt since the revolution, is made up of 20 senior officers from all branches of the military.
The council itself long predates the uprising: It was established in 1973 in preparation for the October war. The Egyptian president – first Anwar Sadat, then Hosni Mubarak – was the head of the council.
That changed during the revolution. SCAF met for the first time without Mubarak on February 10, 2011. It issued a brief statement stressing its “commitment to protect the people,” and to “oversee their interests and security.” Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, then the defence minister, led the meeting.
It issued another statement the following days, hours after Mubarak stepped down, in which it vowed to “sponsor the legitimate demands of the people.” Several more communiques would follow in the days to come, as a traditionally behind-the-scenes institution took an increasingly public role.
SCAF was, until parliamentary elections in November, the body responsible for drafting and issuing new laws. It appointed several prime ministers tasked with running the government, and also appointed more than a dozen provincial governors.
Below are short profiles of a few of the generals who’ve assumed prominent public roles since the revolution.
Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi
The longtime defence minister was often disparagingly referred to as “Mubarak’s poodle” for his perceived obedience to his longtime president.
Born in Upper Egypt, Tantawi was commissioned in 1956, and over the next half-century he fought in all of Egypt’s major wars, including the 1967 and 1973 confrontations with Israel. He was appointed defence minister in 1991.
Tantawi has made several televised addresses since assuming power last year. The most notable speech came in November, after days of deadly clashes in downtown Cairo; he vowed to speed up the transition of power, a promise which meant little to protesters.
He has also met with several heads of state and other foreign dignitaries since assuming power.
General Sami Enan
The 64-year-old Enan is SCAF’s second-in-command – and it’s not uncommon to hear Egyptians describe him as the most influential man on the council.
Born in Mansoura, in the Nile Delta, Enan joined the military in 1967 and rose swiftly through the ranks of its air defence command. He headed the command from 2001 until 2005, when he was appointed chief of staff.
He has developed a reputation as Washington’s favorite general, a frequent visitor at the Pentagon who talks frequently with his counterparts in the US military. His dealings with the US focus mostly on the $1.3bn in annual military aid which Cairo receives from Washington; Enan is the man who tells the Pentagon what his army wants to buy with the money.
Enan has been a public figure since the revolt – he toured polling stations during the first round of the presidential election, for example – and he has met on numerous occasions with leaders from Egypt’s various political factions. He held talks earlier this week with Saad al-Katatni, the speaker of the now-dissolved parliament.
General Mamdouh Shahin
Shahin rose to prominence largely because of his role as SCAF’s legal and constitutional adviser. Many of the decrees issued by the council, including the “constitutional annex” which came out on Sunday, came through Shahin’s office.
He appeared on Dream TV two weeks after Mubarak stepped down, along with two other generals, Mohamed al-Assar and Mukhtar al-Mulla.
It was the council’s first direct address to the public. The generals said that they were torn between their loyalty to Mubarak and the people, and criticised the corruption that characterised the Mubarak era.
General Mohsen al-Fangary
Al-Fangary is an assistant to the defence minister, with a portfolio that includes the administration of the ministry. He has been perhaps the most visible of SCAF’s generals because he was the one appointed to read the junta’s public statements on television.