Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Fears of the “Ikhwanization” of the Egyptian army have been raised after Egyptian Military Academy Director Major General Esmat Murad revealed that students with links to the Muslim Brotherhood or Salafist political factions have been accepted into the academy, including President Mohamed Mursi’s own nephew.
An Egyptian soldier, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, revealed that “for the first time, students whose families or relatives are involved in political activism, whether for the Muslim Brotherhood or anybody else, are being accepted into the Egyptian armed forces which had traditionally investigated the [political] background of recruits, rejecting those with any such connection.”
Until the January 25 revolution both Egypt’s military and police academies routinely rejected students who held political views or were members of political movements the authorities judged to be subversive, even going so far as rejecting recruits if members of their family had any such views or ties to Islamist organizations.
However since the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi came to power in late June 2012, and particularly after he forced out Field Marshal Tantawi, there have been escalating fears of the “Ikhwanization” of the military, although this is something that senior military figures have repeatedly denied.
However, Major General Esmat Murad, director of Egypt’s prestigious Military Academy, held a press conference yesterday during which he revealed that the academy’s graduating class number 109 includes students who have a Muslim Brotherhood background.
He said: “They may be the sons of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership. I will not reject a qualified student because his father is a member of the Brotherhood.”
He clarified: “Not everybody who comes out of a Muslim Brotherhood homes is fated to be a member of the Brotherhood, and the same applies to Salafists and liberals.”
Major General Murad emphasized that his primary concern is the quality of the student, not their family or background, asserting: “My task as the director of the Academy is to train students, and if any student graduates and turns to political activism [while serving in the military], they will be subject to the law.”
He also told the press that “there is a difference between investigating if a prospective student has a criminal record and investigating a family to the fourth degree.” He added: “if we exclude the children of the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists, Christians, or Jihadists, then we will not be able to accept any of the children of Egypt because we are all part of the national fabric.”
Murad also revealed that President Mursi’s nephew was also part of this graduating year, adding that he was in the top ten percent of his class.
He said: “If the president’s nephew gets involved in any political activism, then he will be subject to the law like anybody else.”
However retired General Sameh Seif Al-Yazel raised concerns about the timing of these announcement. He stressed that “it is well known that the Egyptian army is a nationalist army, and its members should not have any political or partisan association.”
For his part, Major General Talat Muslim emphasized that “the acceptance of recruits who belong to the Muslim Brotherhood in the army is very dangerous and arouses concerns.” He stressed that this was unprecedented in the history of the Egyptian military which had traditionally rejected recruits with any political affiliation.