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The militarization of the state

An Egyptian army tank in Sinai, Egypt [Rahim Khatib/Apaimages]

Since the military coup in July 2013, the leader of this coup has been working hard, with all his might, to turn Egypt into a camp for the army and make the Egyptians recruits in it, subject to control and discipline, like any other military recruit in the army. The most recent example of this militarization, which definitely won’t be the last, is the weak and pathetic Sa’ka Forces’ (Thunderbolt Forces) anthem, which now must be sung by students during their morning assemblies. This anthem’s lyrics, tune, and performance is quite awful and is cause for mockery, as one of the lyrics are, “They said what about us? What did they say about us?”. It is pitifully performed by the students in a low-class manner and is offensive to the army, which is trying so hard to improve its image since becoming a mockery, after the soldiers started making candy, pickles, pasta, and cookies, as well as selling meat and vegetables in specially designated army stalls.

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All of this has caused the army to lose its status and respect amongst the people, and various social media platforms are full of posts of mocking and contempt against the army. Furthermore, a large part of the Egyptian population is hostile towards the army after the coup due to the fact that the military stole the authority, assassinated the revolution, buried the national experience in Egypt, and took over the country with tanks.

“They said what about us? What did they say about us?” The weakness and feebleness of these words reflect the feebleness of their goal and objectives. The words are not directed at the Egyptian army as much as those who came up with the words are directing them to the military regime, thus indirectly expressing support for the current ruling military regime. The anthem does not boast about the Egyptian army and praise its role as the shield of the nation. Instead. The lyrics are meant to stress that the army has become a shield for the ruler of the country.

I must clarify that the army is one of the most important institutions in the country and acts as the shield of the country and guarantees the integrity and uprightness of civil political life in the event that the situation begins to lean towards tyranny. This is where the radical separation between the role of the army and the role of the ruling administration and the management of the country’s affairs stems from, as it is considered the most important safety valve in the administration and management of affairs. We must distinguish between the natural role of armies under civilian rule, which aims to protect the country, ensure the integrity of political life in accordance with the constitution and institutional rules, and guarantee the sovereignty of the popular will, and between the unnatural role of armies under military rule and the control of generals. This turns the armies into a tool used to protect the ruling general and his senior officers, subjects the people to the ruler’s whims, decisions, and rule, which lacks normal political experience, given the fact that the ruler is used to ruling military troops subject to rules and regulations that are only suitable in military communities.

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All historical experiences indicate the extent and magnitude of decline and deterioration that ultimately ends any era during which military rule was prevalent, even such deterioration is accompanied by some developmental achievements. However, the ultimate result is always deterioration and decline caused by the failure of the military to establish civil institutional rules of governance based on democracy, social justice and equality. These are all rules and principles that contradict with the nature of the military community and the relations within it, and therefore, the developmental renaissance achieved by Mohammed Ali in the modern Egyptian state ended in Egypt falling into a sea of debt after his death, ultimately resulting in the occupation of Egypt in 1882. This is due to the fact that people were marginalized, and they were not represented under any military rule. This also occurred after the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser without forming a democratic revolutionary base that protects the developmental achievements made by the country. Therefore, the Egyptian state collapsed and it began taking steps to rely on Israel given the marginalization of the people, who played no role in the management of Abdel Nasser’s administration.

We all appreciate and respect the army, but there is a difference between those who believe the army as an institution that protects the country, guards it, and defends the people, standing in the face of hostility against it and preserving its honor and dignity, and those who believe the army is a personal tool in the hands of the ruler, who can use it to serve its own interests and purposes, to be used by the ruler in accordance with their purposes of keeping the throne and authority.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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