Why would Egypt's military hand over power? It says it will, but it has made itself and those at the top unbelievably wealthy.

"I think it is a reflection of the fact that what we've had over the last year was a combination of a genuine popular uprising and a soft military coup. And the military has really held on to power, tried to restrict political space. And all of the violence that we've seen over the last year, for which there's been no proper accountability, has really been part of the military's strategy to ensure it can protect its own interests and minimise any risks for a reduction in the political power and the economic power of the military moving forward."

- Heba Morayef from Human Rights Watch

At the end of last year, the country's Central Bank needed money - "have this" said the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and handed over $1bn.

All of the top men in SCAF are said to be millionaires. They pay no taxes. And the military controls between 20 and 40 per cent of the Egyptian economy. But there is no guarantee that that would stay the same when there is a new president and a new constitution.

After the deadly street fighting of the last week, Egypt's generals are being accused of actually encouraging the violence. The allegation is that by creating chaos they aim to be able to cling to some form of power.

Soldiers were accused of standing to one side during the attacks and not intervening until after people had been killed.

The military council warned protesters on Thursday that deadly force would be used against them if they approached the ministry of defence.

And, yet the ruling generals have now said that they may bring forward a handover to civilian rule - in three weeks' time if a president emerges from the first round of voting in Egypt's presidential election.

So, can Egypt's military have a special status under the new government? Was Hosni Mubarak right when he said 'it's either chaos or me'? And is it in the military's interest to see the streets unmanageable?

Joining Inside Story, with presenter David Foster, to discuss this are: Abdulmawgud Dardery, a member of parliament for the Freedom and Justice Party; Jamal Abdul Jawad, a former director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies; and Heba Morayef, a researcher at the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch.

"I would say for the sake of a safe transition in Egypt a kind of special status for the military should be granted in the coming political system and this should be enshrined in the constitution."

Jamal Abdul Jawad, a former director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies


  • Mass protest in Cairo on Friday called for the military to step down
  • Eleven people were killed in Cairo on Wednesday in an attack near Abbasiya
  • Protesters says the security forces did not intervene as violence began
  • Egypt's military council promises to hand over power by the end of June
  • Egypt's first round of presidential voting is scheduled for May 23-24
  • Egypt's military rulers say they want the elections to be free and fair
  • Two presidential candidates have suspended their campaigns over the violence in Cairo

Source: Al Jazeera