The military controls much of the political and economic state of Egyptian affairs. Throughout history, the images of Egypt's revolution show that the Egyptian military supported the civil disobedience in Tahrir Square. The recent events in Egypt show that Egyptian military forces maintain opposition to terrorism. Some Egyptians believe that the Muslim Brotherhood can gain unity amongst the Islamic countries in the future and create a united country and free Palestine. However, the fall of Hosni Mubarak, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), brought the military body to avow a peaceful conversion of authority within a democratic system. This fact allows an elected civilian power to control the governing of the country. Arguably, the Egyptian military emerged as one of the most influential and powerful group since the start of the contemporary Egyptian state. Nevertheless, the late 1970s brought with it relatively little work in the way the military contextualizes and historicizes the Egyptian economic and political life. The military in Egypt controls the political power and the economic operations of the country.
Nepstad postulate “in recent decades, [there is] an increase in “people power” movements that use civil resistance to challenge authoritarian regimes,” (Nepstad, par.1). In fact, the recent rebellions in Egypt and Tunisia “demonstrated that citizens are able to overturn long-standing dictatorships without violence,” (Nepstad, par. 1). The ease in which the people rebelled against the policies in Egypt suggests that non-violence movements against a government are as effective as violent movement. The harsh reality is that oppression at any level results in rebellions. The Egyptians refuse to accept the policies of the political leaders and seek to maintain a military presence in the country. As a result of these beliefs, the military maintains a strong presence in the governance of the country as it joins the power struggle that exists in the country. The military played an integral role in the recent Arab Spring Uprisings. This uprising saw the military taking the side of the civil resisters against the authoritarian leaders who seek to oppress the citizens.
Martini and Taylor agree “the military is also working to secure its influence over parliament by maintaining a provision that reserves half the seats in the lower house of parliament for what the electoral law calls farmers and workers,” ((Martini & Taylor, par.11). This practice came to fruition with the former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in an effort to empower the citizens of the country. In addition, the conditions included the internal security personnel and the retired military officers’ efforts to enter government. Presidential candidate, Amr Moussa, concedes that over ninety percent of the ‘farmers'" are ex- military officers. The infusion of the military in this program leads to the conclusion that the Egyptian military is vital to every aspect of the Egyptian government as they dilute every form of civilian oversight. Interestingly, “the uprisings in the Arab world are directed against dictatorial conditions, against the historical backwardness of those countries' regimes,” (Dez, p. 1). In addition, “military dictatorships all over the third world gave reason to believe capitalism and worldwide democracy to be incompatible,” (Dez, p.1).
In her journal article, Katerina Dalacoura looks at the political disturbances in Egypt in 2011 and the ways the events transformed the way of life of the Middle East, (Dalacoura, p.1). These events ultimately lead to revolts and uprisings. The uprising in Egypt stemmed from a “response to deteriorating economic conditions, police brutality, corruption and political repression,” (Nepstad, par.2) that the people faced in the country. The fundamental aim of the rebellions was to oust President Hosni Mubarak who maintains a presence as the county’s leader for over thirty years. The government normally has the support of the military, but this changed as the country sought freedom through the social media even after soldiers refuse to shoot at those who rejected Mubarak promise not to return to political office. The military’s decision not to use excessive force against the resisters leads one to question the power of the Egyptian army in the country. Interestingly, “With around 2 million personnel, including 500,000 in the army, the Egyptian military is the biggest in Africa, and one of the largest in the world,” (Hammond, par.3).
With this large number of military personnel’s, there represent a driving force that can determine the direction that the country takes. But, is this power too much for one military group to maintain? Arguably, “the extent of its physical muscle of the military represents the size of the economic muscle of the military. Some critics argue that the military’s role in the economy is minimal as the military only holds a mere one percent of the country’s GDP. Nonetheless, fiscal analysts believe that the military controls more than the one percent of the county’s GDP. In fact, these analysts claim that the military controls somewhere between five to forty percent of the Egyptian economy. This control is no easy task for the political government to oppose. Therefore, one can argue truthfully that the Egyptian military plays an integral part in the political, economical, and military make up of the country.
The most common way to comprehend the position of the military is through the 2011 revolution in the country. In order to understand this position of the military and the ruling class in Egypt, one must look at the realignments within the political arena over the years. The shift in the power dynamics in the country and the changes in the ruling class led to the power of the military in the country. In turn, these changes lead to pressure in the social and economic structure in the country. In the end these factors lead to unrest and the deterioration in the ruling class. As a result, there is the natural progression of unrest which weakens the power of the ruling class. The ideas of democracy in Egypt seem far-fetched as the military will never accept being subordinate to civilian governance. In fact, the generals intend to safeguard stability in the country as seek to protect their privileged position. Arguably, the military recognize that governance in the country threatens their position directly and this threat provokes instability, as it exposes them to public criticism. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) attempts to avoid the blame for the increase social and economic problems in Egypt. As such, the SCAF is willing to pass on some of the power to an elected government while preserve its perks and power. The distribution of power does not promote democracy, but instead, promotes the selfish need to shift the blame of social unrest from the military to the elected government.
David Farris writes “Egypt's travails since the January 25, 2011, uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak from power have the outlook of even the most ardent optimists,” (Farris, par.1). In fact, after three turbulent years, one cannot classify Egypt as a democratic nation. The country is even less peaceful than before as the struggle for power and control among the Egyptian elites failed to reach an agreement. The harsh reality is that democracy is a difficult and rather complex transition. The struggle for power and control led to the prolonged street violence which began on June 30 and ended with a military rebellion against then President Mohammad Morsi. The rebellion destroyed the trust amongst the political factions in Egypt.
Regrettably, the problems in Egypt run deeper than simple political divergence and the negation of political elites to pursue the democratic politics. The issue in Egypt stems from the long-term problem of “the determination of a set of predatory, extractive elites — the so-called "deep state" — to sabotage movement toward more inclusive economic or political policies,” (Farris, par.2). The military have accepted the harsh realities that the elites are not capable of “bringing prosperity to the country or resolving sectarian tensions,” (Farris, par.2), and as such the military seek to bring stability to the country with its many rebellions.
The disastrous decisions that came into effect after the uprising that ousted Mubarak, Egypt faced a number of challenges between the presidency and the armed forces. The first error that caused much of the problems in Egypt stemmed from the power of the political to write the constitution. The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) devised a provisional constitution in March 2011, even as the bodies of the martyrs in the revolution remained warm. The country still reeled from the recent exhilarating uprising and the provisional constitution and created a “disastrous decision, [where] the military had succeeded in immediately pitting the Islamists against other members of the opposition,” (Farris, par. 2). Some institutional scholars believe that the move was not a mistake, but a deliberate ploy to maintain “a pattern of authoritarian co-option [of] the successful essence of elite domination in Egypt,” (Farris, par. 2). However, this move to encourage democracy became difficult to maintain as the military concluded that the parliament would rein the military as they may overthrow the president. The fact is that the Egyptian military prefer to maintain its power without the dictate of a political party.
Nonetheless, a number of Egyptians expressed shock at the military’s first declaration that it would not get involved in the revolution in the country. From as early as 1952, Egyptian rulers hail from the military, and as such, they rely on the military for support. The generals enjoyed access to lucrative land and business deals for their loyalty. Surprisingly, the generals defied the historical relationship and jeopardized their special relationship with the government by supporting the protests. Arguably, the disagreement between Mubarak and the generals stemmed from a decade long dispute about unscrupulous capitalists. The generals realized that their former influence on the state of the country diminished with Mubarak’s total disregard for their economic interests, his transfer of power to his son and the fact that he ignored their counsel on appointing ministers. While the military did not attempt to overthrow Mubarak, the year's demonstrations allowed the military to restore its position at the center of control in the country.
SCAF sees the Muslim Brotherhood as an ally because of the group’s popularity, and the fact that they are legally vulnerable. The Brotherhood has successfully mobilized the community in support of the government’s constitutional referendum. In fact, they were instrumental in the counter-demonstrations when the protesters' demands cross the military's boundaries. Still, the SCAF’s fear of an Islamist coup leads to restrictions on the activities of the Brotherhood if they outlive their purpose. Nevertheless, since the military returned as the most-important group in the Egypt, there appears to be an increase in the economic activities and the intense hold on the country. Of the twenty-five provincial governors nineteen of them were generals. This leads one to conclude that since Morsi's elimination from the political scene, there was an increase in the economic positions in the country. The newly founded authority led to the general’s attempt to mold the economy in a way that develops the ideas of the general. Arguably, the military maintains an important role in the economical development as the improved infrastructure and the high-end complex reflect the hard work of the military.
Timothy Mitchell sees the Egyptian military as a major presence in the country’s economy. In fact he writes “with the support of US funds [the] arms industries, receive state subsidies but income goes into military rather than national accounts,” (Mitchell, n.p). In addition, the military makes up the country’s leading manufacturing division as it produces “exports estimated to be worth about three times the total of all other non-textile manufactures,” (Mitchell, n.p). Conversely, the military forces forms part of the civilian manufacturing subdivision and concretize the deal with General Motors in 1986 to produce passenger cars. In addition, USAID pledged $200 million from its help funds to sponsor the venture. The military also mains a prevailing presence in the agriculture sector with its possession of reclaimed properties and the expansion of food processing or meat, fruits, and vegetable industries. By far, the Food Security Division in Egypt is the largest agro-industrial sector in the country.
Statistics show that during 1985-1986, the military was responsible for an estimated 488 million pounds worth of food, or approximately one fifth of the overall value of food production in Egypt, (Mitchell, n.p). There is no doubt as to the importance of the military in Egypt as they continue to make their mark in the world of construction. These activities provide a number of opportunities for personal profit-making and patronage. Mitchell writes, “with the construction of its own housing, hospitals, shops, resorts and elite training colleges,” (Mitchell, n.p) the military transforms “an almost entirely autonomous enclave of middle-class modernity in an increasingly impoverished and marginalized Third World economy,” (as cited by Mitchell, n.p). Nevertheless, the military receives little or no support in the historical literature of USAID and the World Bank despite their strong presence in the Egyptian economy. However, a methodical examination into the power and economy of the Egyptian military would undoubtedly show the relationship to the United States military industries and the state subsidies.
The 1952 coup marked the start of the Egypt’s official independence. On July 23, 1952, the military of the Free Officers took control and ousted King Farouk and served as the beginning to the end of the British occupation of the country. The military then formed the Revolution Command Council and started a transitional period into independence. In addition, a new constitution came about in 1956, and gave the new president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, the power to appoint ministers. From an economic perspective the nationalization and industrialization of the country became the primary priorities. In fact, the coup transformed the country as the military-dominated economy thrived. Coincidentally, the new developments created a shift in the elite of the country and influenced the land-owning bourgeoisie eventual destruction. Arguably, Nasser’s rule developed an outstanding political responsibility for the military in the ruling class. Eventually, this position for the military led to their control of production in the country.
Rotberg writes “the state’s prime function is to provide that political good of security [and] to eliminate domestic threats to or attacks upon the national order and social structure,” (Rotberg, p.3). Therefore one cannot be surprised that the Egyptian military continues to hold onto the historical legitimacy of their roles as a patriotic institution. To the military in Egypt, the legacy continues today. While one may see the Egyptian as a warring faction, the group produced Nasser’s two successors and formed the foundations for the connection between the broader population and the government. In fact, the military’s international alliances tried to strengthen its commanding position. Notably, the 1952 coup brought Nasser and the military into the role of the ruling class and Egypt embraced a policy of non-alignment. Nonetheless, there was the constant reminder of the tension between the Western powers and public and the ruling class. The military in Egypt’s politics after the Nasser administration continues to be the center of extensive debates.
The new economic ruling class became the center of the political arena and marginalized the military’s position. Nevertheless, Egypt continued as a military state until 2011 and beyond, and changed the dominance of military in the economic and political structure in Egypt. One cannot truly say that the Egyptian military was totally removed from the political structure of the country as they maintained popular support in the imagination of the public. In addition, the military did not lose its position in the economic structure of the country. Interestingly, the main political players in the military formed a part of the fraudulent scheme that existed under Mubarak leadership. However, one can argue that the military was merely a pawn in a broader scheme. Still, the position of the military changed with the changes in political power, but they remain as a part of the ruling class despite reduction in their importance.
In concluding, it is important to note that the military and the Morsi government play an integral role in the continuance of the neoliberal power in Egypt. The project continues to challenge the extensive demands for redistribution of power in the country. In addition, the project obstructs the major revolutionary demands as it prevents any form of mobilization that threatens the implementation of the neoliberal power. Along with this challenge and the threat that obstruction to the form of economic balance prior to 2011, the military intervened to provide control in the streets. Arguably, the military’s interest main goal is to preserve the status quo that fosters the continued support of elite as they pursue its political and economic development in the country.
Nonetheless, protesters continue to undermine the authority of the ruling class since 2011. The main demands in the uprising on January 25, 2011 focused on the need for social justice. In essence, the protester sought to overthrow the government and remove the policies that supported the economic policies of the country. The reality is that the military sought to reshape the structure of the ruling-class and fulfill the revolutionary demands that promoted the coup of the ruling class. In theory, the military’s interventions in the politics in 2011 and 2013 highlights the changes in the ruling class and impact that it has on the society. These dissimilarities in the ruling class share a joint interest in maintaining a hegemonic structure. In addition, when one group in the elite threatens to interrupt economic and social development of the country, then disturbances will happen. Although the military has a firm hand in the economic structure of the government, they play an important role as protector of the elite is very important to the overall development of the Egyptian society.
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