"When the Legitimacy of the Regime Is Lost, You Have To Take Sides With the Egyptian People"
A rare interview with members of Egypt's Supreme Military Council.
Over years before the revolution—[jailed] for political or religious reasons—anything other than criminal reasons.
L.W.: What did you do about that?
They were released. And now they constitute part of the problem on the street.
L.W.: What is the supreme council's attitude toward private business?
We have honorable businessmen, honest people who are really trying to do some real development in the country—they will receive our full respect.
L.W.: After all, businessmen are in business to make money. Either that is OK or not.
We are welcoming them very much. There is a false impression because of the pursuing of some of the dishonest businessmen that the atmosphere is not friendly or has changed. In reality it has not changed.
L.W.: It doesn't give a great impression to some when your president is being hauled off to jail. Does the army have any apprehension about [putting Mubarak on trial?]
Respect for the law is part and parcel of the Egyptian military tradition. [President Mubarak] is only under investigation.
L.W.: But the army had to allow him to be investigated.
It was a clear decision from the supreme council of Egypt not to interfere in whatever way in the legal formalities of pursuing or bringing people to justice.
I would like to mention one thing about the demands the people asked for during the revolution. They asked us to take extraordinary procedures with the officials of the previous regime. These demands represent major pressure on us and at certain times touch negatively on the amount of trust between the people and the Egyptian armed forces. We were determined not to take any exceptional procedures in the prosecution of anybody.
L.W.: Do you think that Egypt's strategic orientation toward Israel will change? Polls show a majority of Egyptians favor abrogating the treaty. How does the military view this?
Egypt fully respects its commitments. This has to be very clear. The peace treaty is part of our commitments and undertakings. It is not possible that 30 years of good relations with the United States will be easily obliterated or cancelled.
L.W.: Going back to the U.S.-Egyptian relationship …
There has been strong military cooperation between Egypt and the U.S. There were joint U.S.-Egyptian training exercises every other year—the biggest training exercises in the world. We have had a wonderful two-sided relationship with the U.S.
The revolution proved that the Egyptian armed forces are the pillar of security inside Egypt.
Lally Weymouth is a senior associate editor of the Washington Post.