Political power in Egypt was concentrated in the office of the president of the republic for more than five decades. Since the military coup in 1952 which brought down the Egypt’s monarchy, all presidents came from the military ranks.
And while ex-president Hosni Mubarak curtailed the army’s overt control over civilian state institutions, he still awarded the armed forces with enormous prestige, generous budget funds, access to a pervasive intelligence apparatus, and lucrative business opportunities, all of which translated into real political power.
The popular uprising in early 2011 and Mubarak’s ouster disrupted this arrangement. Executive and legislative power is currently in the hands of an interim administration, installed by the military after the overthrow of Mohammed Morsi in July 2013, the first democratically elected president after Mubarak.
While most Egyptians supported the army’s intervention against Morsi, many worry the army is actively trying to thwart the transition to a true democracy. The army has been aided by the judiciary, which is believed to be under heavy influence of the remnants of the old regime.
With no constitution in place, the exact division of power between the president, the cabinet, the parliament, and the military, is yet to be decided.
In short, the felool are Egypt’s establishment, a range of pressure groups who fear their economic and political interests will be irreversibly damaged by the unpredictable wave of change that was unleashed by the 2011 uprising. They share deep mistrust toward both the Islamist parties and secular pro-democracy activists, and are counting on the military to preserve as much of the existing social and political order as possible.
Financial resources and personal links with members of the military and security apparatus give the felool considerable informal power, which can be used to prop up politicians that can protect their interests. Ahmed Shafiq, the presidential candidate most closely associated with the former regime, won 48% of the vote in the presidential run-off in June 2012.