What does Egyptian Military want?

Notwithstanding this overwhelming control over domestic affairs, the Egyptian army struggled to accomplish any military campaign it launched with success since 1956.

What does Egyptian Military want?

Mahmud Zakaria-World Bulletin 

The military reform in Egypt in 1936 opened the doors for youngsters from rural background to enroll the army, which had been confined to the Turco-Caucasian elite since the era of Mohammad Ali Pasha. Gamal Abdel Nasser, for example, a child of a worker in post office, started his career at Royal Military Academy in 1937. No one at that time was able to foresee that early graduates of this generation from the military school would change the history of Egypt. 

Free officers' coup in 1952 toppled King Fuad and established a military rule in Egypt. General Naguib was asked to lead the movement as young officers, who were in control of the operation, would have struggled to convince domestic and international opinion. Generational divide within the army hierarchy surfaced quickly, however; Nasser and his young friends soon realized General Naguib, representing former military elite of pre-1936, could by no means catch their ambitions and deposed him from the presidency in 1954. Nasser assumed the Presidency and ruled the country for 16 years, re-establishing a military-bureaucratic structure that they had once fought against.  

Anwar Sadat, Nasser's successor, was a member of the same generation. He had graduated from the Military Academy in 1938. Sadat's domestic and foreign policy orientations differed from that of Nasser, yet he simply did not touch the military-bureaucratic establishment during his 10 years presidency. Hosni Mobarak, who finished his course at Military Academy in 1949, by no surprise, stuck with this framework. He ruled the country with iron hand, restricted freedom and enhanced the military's control even in the realm of economy. 

The making of a military-bureaucratic establishment has no doubt been detrimental to the development of a pluralistic society in which differing power and ideological groups could flourish. The army, police force and intelligence service were all but built to protect the privileges of a few involved in these institutions, a self-serving gigantic as well as enigmatic structure with no ideological, sectarian or tribal ground, unlike the other Middle Eastern countries.

Notwithstanding this overwhelming control over domestic affairs, the Egyptian army struggled to accomplish any military campaign it launched with success since 1956. Its debacle in 1967 was a tragedy, other failures in Suez, Yemen, Libya and Israel could only be repaired by international help. Even in October 1973 they needed international, namely the American, help to stop advancing Israeli army. This military-bureaucratic complex, as in the case of other Arab countries, was programmed to fight against people and groups they deemed dangerous to their rule within the country rather than external forces threatening the sovereignty of a nation.

General Abdulfattah al-Sisi, a child of a deeply religious family, was likewise trained to sustain this nexus. Like Anwar Sadat, he was known to be a conservative man in his private life, one of the impelling reasons for Morsi to appoint him instead of General Tantavi. This was a good indicator that ongoing struggle in Egypt was not only between secularist and religious forces at that level. The opposition bloc against the MB skillfully played on the Military, provoked them to act against the MB on the ground that the MB was taking steps for a more religious socio-political order. The major incentive for the military-bureaucratic elite for an intervention was, however, the MB's tricky attempts to strip power-holding structures away from their hands. Even before the protests in June the rumors had been spreading that the old-guards had forced Al-Sisi to step in, and he was not someone who would stand against this pressure. It was also possible that same scenario would happen if another party ruled the country other than the MB, at least with a less brutal intervention. Of course, the desire for a secular statecraft has always been sought after as it would put them even more advantageous position especially in international sphere. Yet one thing is clear that those military and police officers firing against innocent people were concerned with maintaining their privileged position, which is guaranteed by an excessive use of force rather than a social contract to which all parts of Egyptian society would consent.

Nasser, Sadat and Mobarak did not execute such brutal massacres. They were not angels, for sure, especially when it came to suppress the MB on the street and in prisons, applied containment and brutal violence; but we did not see a precedence of such a mass killing in the history of modern Egypt. The means of communication was not as advanced as they are today and the scale of brutality was not that visible in the 1960s and 80s; in 2013 hundreds of millions could watch these mass killings, being more and more furious against the rulers of Egypt. Eventual consequence of this horrific brutality was the loss of moral ground that the Egyptian Army has in some part maintained after the fall of Mobarak. The public image military-bureaucratic establishment has seriously been shaken and its international reputation took an irreparable blow. The majority of Egyptians would no longer rely on institutions which can systematically kill its own people.

It is now highly likely that the transition to a more peaceful and congenial social fabric in Egypt will be faster and the dissolution of military-bureaucratic structure will be complete sooner, to be replaced by an order in which the price of human life won't be that cheap in Egypt.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Ağustos 2013, 15:23