Egypt marks 10 years after Arab Spring

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 00:00 |
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi talks to the media in 2015. Photo/AFP

Cairo, Tuesday

The Egyptian military and its top brass reigned supreme over Egypt in the months after their historic decision to force longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down on February 11, 2011.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), a body of 25 senior members of Egypt’s military, decided to step in and ostensibly support the revolution against Mubarak, which began on January 25 of that year, exactly 10 years ago.

Since the 19th century, Egypt’s army has played an outsized role in governing the country, and in many ways has acted as the ultimate authority in the country.

This was particularly evident in 2013 when Abdel Fattah el-Sisi overthrew democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi in a military coup.

In the years since, the military’s involvement in the country’s politics and business has only grown, signalling that the institution will continue to dominate Egypt and retain its power base, independent of oversight. Yet that might not be the case.

While el-Sisi, who was defence minister when he overthrew Morsi before becoming president the following year, was one of their own, he has made significant moves over the past few years to increase his own power and threaten the independence of the military and the SCAF.

This is partly an acknowledgement that, with popular dissent effectively criminalised, the main threat to el-Sisi’s rule may eventually emerge from the same military that brought him to power.

In recent years, el-Sisi has worked to put figures close to him, especially through blood ties or bonds formed during military service, in important positions in the military and intelligence apparatus.

This includes the 2018 appointment of his chief of staff, Abbas Kamel, as head of the General Intelligence Directorate, replacing Khaled Fawzy.

The latter had been part of the 2013 coup plot but was still removed from his position.

El-Sisi also appointed a new minister of defence in 2018 without the public approval of SCAF, despite the constitution at the time stipulating the appointment could not be made without it.

The examples are part of a general trend that has seen el-Sisi replace more than 130 high-ranking state and military officials since 2017. - Agencies

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