If there is a time to shift strategies for the army it would be now. Last Friday proved to the army how determined the people to see justice served. They were ready to go out every Friday and perhaps even sleep in the square formerly known as Tahrir Republic. The protests were due to the slow pace of justice that had not been served to those in charge of running the country into ruins. Many of the protests that took place after the stepping down of Mubarak was on account of the protection given to the remnants of the old regime by the army.
This protection had a cost which protesters in Tahrir paid on numerous days. The army allowed the protesters to pay it gladly when it dispersed them on 25 February and on 9 March. However, this act of itself helped only alienate people more from an army it was willing to embrace. The more time passed, the more the sense of injustice, not just because of the torture and arrests that went unpunished, but also these old grievances from the old guard who seemed to enjoy some kind of unexplainable impunity.
The protesters were not the only ones to pay the price, but the army reaped what it had sown. The revolutionary unrest spread within the ranks of the seemingly monolithic army. Army officers joined the Tahrir protests in uniform causing a great commotion on 8 April. Till now we are unsure whether those joining the protests were authentic officers in service or ex officers wearing the uniform. It didn’t matter much, because the chance that such a rift within the army’s ranks threatened the Supreme Military Council’s own existence. The army is the last standing organized institution with enough respect and enough arms to keep the country together. If some of the army were to revolt against leadership, it would mean the end of the Military Council at the very least and leave the country’s fate to unknown forces.
The military may have realized that the only way to end to the infectious revolutionary spirit that was about to infect the lower ranking officers was by giving the people what is rightfully theirs. In order to give them what is rightfully theirs, to bring NDP party members and the remnants of the old regime to justice. That also meant that they must lift the protection they had till then bestowed upon them.
In a way, the military council had to choose between its own existence and the remnants of the old regime. Perhaps this realization is the reason as to why there is a shift in strategy. Once the military had taken the decision to survive, all the remnants of the old regime had to be brought to justice.
If the army has truly realized that they cannot appease both the remnants of the old regime and the people, it would mean a shift in strategy and more decisions that make sense. The army will also try its best to erase any wrongdoings done in order to protect the corrupt. It is unlikely that the army will release the detainees however any time soon, as releasing this great number with their stories will risk more protests in Tahrir that they are finding increasingly hard to clear.
It is unclear as yet if this is the route taken by the army, or if there is something else behind the actions that have struck us with joy but have not removed all suspicion. Now is the time to wait and understand whether the measures are sincere. One thing has been proven so far, that people willing to leave their homes and take to the streets, will not be fooled.