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World

Egyptian military frustrated with regime

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 6:51 p.m.

CAIRO — Egypt's powerful military is showing signs of growing impatience with the country's Islamist leaders, indirectly criticizing their policies and issuing thinly veiled threats that it might seize power again.

The tension is raising the specter of another military intervention much like the one in 2011, when generals replaced longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak as they sided with anti-regime protesters in their 18-day popular uprising.

Egypt is in the midst of a crippling political impasse between President Mohamed Morsy and his Muslim Brotherhood group on one side and the mostly secular and liberal opposition on the other.

“In essence, the military will not allow national stability or its own institutional privileges to come under threat from a breakdown in Egypt's social fabric or a broad-based civil strife,” said Michael W. Hanna, an Egypt expert from the New York-based Century Foundation.

“This is not an ideological army or one that seeks to destabilize civilian governance. ... But it is also not an army that will sit by while the country reaches the tipping point on the path to civil strife.”

The latest friction began when a rumor circulated that Morsy planned to replace Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, his defense minister and the army chief, because of his resistance to bringing the military under the sway of the Brotherhood-dominated government.

El-Sissi may have angered Morsy last month when he signaled the military's readiness to step in, warning that the state would collapse if no solution were found to the political crisis.

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