Taking steps backwards with the Egyptian regime

Taking steps backwards with the Egyptian regime
The military rulers of Egypt are taking the country back in time.
3 min read
Graffiti in Cairo after the 2011 revolution [Getty]
In Egypt it is important to look at civilian-military relations, not only because they are important for shaping the political, social, and civil future of Egypt, but because of distinct issues that have arisen - especially since the 2013 military coup.

When I was a private in the army we used words and expressions not often used by civilians, such as "as you were" and the order to march a step, or several steps, backwards.

Today, I think about these words as I examine changing civil-military relations since the Egyptian revolution in January 2011, and especially since the military coup in July 2013. I think about these words, which have become part of the military's plans for governing and controlling Egypt.

Some centres of power, including the military, say the revolution threatened the state's integrity. What is nearer the truth is that the demands of the people threatened the power and wealth of the established order.

The military wants to maintain its grip on power and the structures of Mubarak's reign. It has done so by supressing people and enforcing the established order.

Civil-military relations

In political science, there is a principle that it is always better for civilians to control the state, and the military to protect the borders. If the state is governed by the military, it leads to chaos, tyrrany and repressive security policies.

How to address civil-military relations was an important topic after the 2011 revolution.

In Egypt, the military establishment is politicised, and has held power either directly or indirectly since the country's independence decades ago. In the Arab Spring, a new question was raised: What position can the military establishment have in a democratic system?
     The regime that came to power after the military coup in 2013 has failed to achieve stability and legitimacy in the eyes of the Egyptian people.

The regime that came to power after the military coup in 2013 has failed to achieve stability and legitimacy in the eyes of the Egyptian people, or to win tangible international support.

However, it has tried to restore the previous situation - "as you were".

Military rule inevitable?

During the 2011 revolution, people who did not want to be ruled or controlled by the military used the slogan: "Down with the rule of the junta."

This poses the question: is rule by the junta inevitable? What about civil rule and civil life? Is it mandatory that the military rules and controls people so they can fight terrorism? What about the revolution and its goals, and the people and their ambitions?

The 2011 revolution was about resisting the status quo. In contrast, the military regime that came to power in 2013 was about returning to the past. "As you were."

Politics does not belong to the military. Every society or state needs a military establishment, but it is unacceptable that a military establishment and its commanders become a state within a state. It is unacceptable that they control the state for their own interests, and tailor its institutions according to their desires.

However, we continue to hear "as you were" from them. This follows a revolution that had created a new future for a new homeland with a new elite.

When the military stops being content with "as you were" they will ask us to take steps, if not leaps, backwards. This cannot continue, because the people still have a say.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of al-Araby a-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.