But Muwafi -- though rarely figuring in Egyptian media coverage -- has continued to expand his domestic portfolio as well. As SCAF bosses continued to make misstep after misstep, it was Muwafi who engaged the regime’s opponents in two separate meetings in October 2011. Hamad, the human rights lawyer, who participated in one of the sessions, recalls Muwafi saying that he would report on the talks directly to Tantawi. The encounter was revealing for the insights it afforded into the Machiavellian mindset of the governing military elite. When some of the activists present suggested firing Prime Minister Esam Sharaf, at the time trying to negotiate a delicate course between the SCAF and the demands of protestors in the streets, Muwafi, according to Hamad, responded, “If we let him go now he will become a national hero.” And when the oppositionists demanded the government lift the state of emergency effective in the country since 1971, Muwafi declined on the grounds that “it will look like we succumbed to American pressure.”
There is scant indication that the GID or Egypt’s military rulers have changed their thinking in any substantial ways. Even today, many months after Mubarak’s downfall, activists tell of development projects that have been scotched by the intelligence service’s refusal to grant a “security approval.” It is widely rumored that the recent raids on 17 Egyptian and foreign NGOs, ostensibly triggered by funding irregularities, were based on reports supplied by the intelligence agency. “The SCAF places more trust in the intelligence service because it’s part of the military,” says Bahi El Din Hassan, head of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. “Reports from the Interior Ministry” -- which controls the police -- “don’t enjoy the same sort of credibility.”
The dialogue Muwafi started with the activists did not continue. “It seems that the mission was linked with its timing,” says Hassan. “That was a period when the SCAF was making lots of mistakes in its management of the transition period and criticism of its actions was rising.” It may be that the Muslim Brotherhood’s success at the polls has convinced the generals that they no longer need to take the secular opposition into account; many observers of the Egyptian political scene suspect that the SCAF and the Brotherhood may have already negotiated a covert power-sharing deal. But no matter what happens next, expect to see Murad Muwafi playing a pivotal role.