Key players in Egypt’s politics

Al Jazeera examines key players in Egypt’s politics.


Who are the key political players in Egypt? 

Egyptian armed forces

The Egyptian army has been a powerful force in Egypt since the 1952 coup, bringing forth presidents such as Abdel Nasr and Hosni Mubarak. Its generals removed Mubarak in 2011, controlled government until president Mohamed Morsi was elected, and now holds the reins following his forced removal on Wednesday.

Fattah al-Sisi was appointed by Morsi as the general commander of Egypt’s armed forces and defence minister. He was  instrumental in the army’s decision on July 3 – following two days of warnings – to remove Mosri, dissolve the country’s constitution and parliament and call for new elections.

In the days leading up to the coup, the army gave details of a “roadmap” on what it would do in the aftermath of overthrowing Morsi.

The leaders of the army are adamant no a coup was staged- they say they have removed Morsi after listening to the will of the people. The army also says that political power will be handed back to them as soon as a new president is elected and a new constitution is agreed.

Muslim Brotherhood

The oldest and largest Islamist organisation in the country, the movement gained legality after former President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in the 2011 revolution.

The group’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, backed Mohamed Morsi in the 2012 elections. But within a year its fortunes have turned once again, with Morsi out and widespread public anger at the Brotherhood’s agenda.

The Brotherhood’s headquarters in Cairo was among several of its buildings ransacked during protests that led to Morsi’s downfall. 

With a conservative agenda, the F&J Party gained the most seats in the 2012 parliamentary elections, and Morsi won office with 51 percent of the presidential vote. But it remains to be seen how the party and any new presidential candidate will fare in the forthcoming elections, such has been public anger at its policies and record over the last year.


Tamaroud – meaning rebellion in Arabic, was the driving force behind the protests that led to the end of Morsi’s presidency.

The group was founded in April by members of the Egyptian Movement for Change, a group which was opposed to Mubarak even before the 2011 revolution. The group connected with youth discontent with Egyptian politics, gaining support through social media campaigns and more traditional street canvassing.

The group claims it gathered 22 million signatures in a petition demanding Morsi to step down. Among other things, the petition blamed Morsi for: rising crime, the poor state of Egypt’s economy, and the growing influence of the United States in Egyptian affairs.

Tamaroud is part of the June 30 Front movement, a coalition of opponents to the rule and influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. Its leaders will join discussions on a new constitution and the formation of a new government.


In response to Tamaroud’s claims of gaining 22 million signatures demanding Morsi’s exit, the president’s supporters launched a rival petition campaign called “tajarroud” meaning “impartiality” and organised protests in Cairo.

In June, the counter campaign claimed that they had received 10 million signatures in favour of Morsi.

However, Shehab Wagih, the spokesperson for the Free Egyptians Party and a member of the National Salvation Front in Cairo said that “no one” in Egypt’s streets have seen the petition for Tajarroud – but the Tamarroud petitions are abundant.

Al-Nour and Salafist parties

Al-Nour, the second-largest Islamist party, was created after the 2011 revolution. It supports Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood but has pushed for the implementation of Sharia law.

Al-Nour has agreed to take part in the army’s “roadmap” process – an act which the Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice Party has branded as trecherous.

National Salvation Front

The National Salvation Front, also known as the National Front for Salvation of the Revolution or the National Rescue Front, is an alliance of political parties and the largest opposition bloc.

It has appointed former UN nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei to negotiate with the military on the way forward following Morsi’s removal.

One of the group’s leaders Hamdeen Sabahi, 58,  is a leading voice against Morsi and came third in 2012 presidential elections.

Overall, the group has been largely irrelevant to this week’s protests, which were organised by Tamaroud. Analysts say a member of the bloc could emerge as the army’s preferred candidate and run in early elections.

Al-Azhar and Coptic Church

The Cairo-based highest Sunni Islamic authority is led by Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb.

Al-Azhar has claimed to have been marginalised since the Muslim Brotherhood came to power.

Opponents of Morsi have in the past accused the Muslim Brotherhood of seeking control over Al-Azhar by planning to replace El-Tayyeb with a Brotherhood figure, a claim which the group has repeatedly denied.

Al-Azhar’s establishment can be traced back to the Fatimid dynasty more than a thousand years ago. Its seat of learning, Al-Azhar university in Cairo has held its position at the forefront of religious education for much of that time.

El-Tayyeb has been vocal during the recent protests. On Tuesday he issued a statement that the “unity of the Egyptian people is above all”, and praised the protesters: “People have surprised and inspired the world through elegant expression of their peaceful demands.”

Al-Azhar will play a pivotal role in the religious aspects of the post-Morsi era.

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church has praised mass protests against Morsi, saying it was “wonderful to see the Egyptian people taking back their stolen revolution in a peaceful way”.

Pope Tawadros II, took office less than a year ago, is already reported to have held meetings with ElBaradei and the grand mufti of Sunni Islam’s top religious authority.

The Coptic pope and is the leader of Egypt’s estimated four million to eight million Christian minority, which had complained of being targeted by Muslim Brootherhood sympathisers during Morsi’s period in office.