When regimes grow old and are then dissolved, power is distributed among different parties as each seeks to strengthen itself at the expense of the others. This was Egypt’s reality at the end of Hosni Mubarak’s rule, when the old regime was overthrown and power was spread around to various places, each with its own role to play. This happened either with the consent of all parties or as a result of conflict between them.
Prior to Mubarak’s overthrow, the main centre of power representing the deep state was the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The military was home to most of the elite politicians who were responsible for the corruption that began to spread through Egypt when the army abandoned its main responsibility, which is to protect the country’s borders. Instead, the military began to gain control of around 50 per cent of the country’s economy.
Secondly, the police and security agencies functioned as an extension of the elite by being their right hand men in controlling the state; this often granted them more privileges and superiority than the armed forces, especially when considering their role in the security apparatus. A number of documents that were leaked after the January 25 Revolution revealed that the police were spying on Egypt as a whole, including the armed forces.
Mubarak also succeeded in corrupting the judicial system after he extended the retirement age for judges from 60 to 70, allowing them access to unprecedented privileges. Today, to be a judge in Egypt provides privileges almost as a birthright and, although this does not apply to all judges, many of them participated in fostering and maintaining the old regime. They have enjoyed their fair share of elevated positions as senior officials and ministers in the government.
Moreover, the old regime is embodied by the state’s bureaucratic apparatus, which has over six million employees led by regulatory institutions specialising in management among other things.
Finally, the old regime is represented by the new and old business class alike, many of whom encourage corruption and function as an extension of the regime’s corrupt institutions, namely the media. Many of these media outlets were granted permits to establish news, television and radio stations in the 30s and 40s that would later go on to insult any organisation or individual who went against the state. The business elite is responsible for paying the salaries of these media personalities.
It is very clear, therefore, that although he presents himself as the new face of Egypt, Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi is very much in the grip of the old state.
Translated Felesteen online newspaper, June 4, 2014
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.