US ambassador to Cairo gives his opinion on Muhammad Tantawi and number two general, Sami Enan
guardian.co.uk, Monday 14 February 2011 10.41 GMT
Field Marshal Muhammad Tantawi, who is described in the cables as supremely concerned with national unity. Photograph
Nothing Egypt's military council has done in its past suggests it has the capacity or inclination to introduce speedy and radical change. Guaranteed its $1.3bn (£812m) annual grant from the
The frustration of the military's American benefactors shines through in leaked US cables, where the criticism focuses mostly on the man at the top, 75-year-old Field Marshal Muhammad Tantawi.
In March 2008 cable , the
"Charming and courtly, he is nonetheless mired in a
The ambassador also notes that Tantawi has used his influence in the cabinet to oppose economic and political reforms which he sees as weakening central government power.
"He is supremely concerned with national unity, and has opposed policy initiatives he views as encouraging political or religious cleavages within Egyptian society," the cable says.
That puts the 62-year-old Soviet-trained chief of staff, in the unusual position of being both Washington's and the Muslim Brotherhood's favourite general. The movement has described him as incorruptible and as one of its cleric put it
The other three main figures on the council have played a backseat role up to now. Air Marshal Reda Mohamed, the head of the air force, Lt General Seif-Eldeein, the head of air defence, and the head of the navy, Vice-Admiral Mohab Mamish, are all in their late 50s or early 60s and have strong US connections. But they do not surface in the
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 10.41 GMT on Monday 14 February 2011. It was last modified at 16.37 GMT on Monday 14 February 2011. It was first published at 10.03 GMT on Monday 14 February 2011.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs