Egyptian Interim President Adly Mansour recently issued two little-noticed laws that carry important implications: one creating a National Security Council and the other dealing with control of the armed forces and declarations of war.
The first law calls for the creation of a National Security Council (NSC), to be led by the president and which includes the prime minister, the speaker of the parliament, the chief of the General Intelligence Services, the chairman of the parliamentary Defense and National Security Committee, and the ministers of Defense, Interior, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Justice, Health, Communications, and Education.
According to this past weekend’s edition of Al-Ahram Weekly, the new law requires the NSC to meet at a minimum once every three months.
However, in the event of a national security emergency, the council will be regarded as in permanent session.
The meetings are confidential and matters are decided by a majority vote. If there is a tie, the side that voted with the president prevails.
The second law adds four amendments to the Armed Forces Command and Control Law.
Accordingly, the minister of defense is the commander- in-chief of the army and must be an officer who served at the rank of general for at least five years.
Another of the articles states that the president may not declare war or send troops abroad without first turning to the NSC and receiving approval of two-thirds of parliament, according to the report. If parliament is not in session, then the president must get the opinion of the armed forces and the approval of the cabinet and the defense council.
Furthermore, the armed forces can be deployed abroad only temporarily for a period designated by the president, who must specify the nature of the mission.