Date of Degree

6-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor(s)

Jillian Schwedler

Subject Categories

Other Political Science | Political Science

Keywords

Egyptian Army, Egyptian Politics, Arab Spring, Revolution, MENA

Abstract

Six years ago, in 2011 the Egyptian youth took to the streets across Egypt demanding freedom from the corrupt, autocratic, and authoritarian Mubarak government. Within days, tens of millions of Egyptians demanded the resignation of President Mubarak, who had ruled the country for 30 years. Millions of Egyptians were fed up with the rampant corruption of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). Democratic activists warned that presidential election slated for September 2011 were not going to be competitive, rather successional so that Mubarak’s son Gamal would be president. Most analysts argue that the vast masses of protests severely damaged the ability of Mubarak to continue governing as the Arab Spring swept through the region. While the protests were significant, the conventional analysis misses the role the Egyptian military played in forcing the resignation of Hosni Mubarak in February of 2011. Discontent within the military establishment against the rule of Mubarak had been building up, before climaxing in 2011. Military officials held that the mismanagement of Egypt’s economy was a national security threat even though the army controlled a significant portion of it. Top generals saw the increasing nature of liberalization and privatization of the economy as an insurmountable contest between capital-rich firms and a bogged down military bureaucracy. The influx of businessmen and non-military appointments of government officials and parliamentarians sidelined the historical influence of the military in Egyptian politics. With talks of hereditary succession pointing to educated British banker, Gamal Mubarak’s rise to the political spotlight, the Egyptian military looked for the right moment to regain their lost status. When the Arab Spring protests began, so did the opportunity to remove Mubarak from power. During the first few days of the protests, military establishment leaders openly refused to condemn demonstrators. Instead many declarations legitimatized the protests by stating ‘the demands of the people are legitimate and to be addressed.' With protesters calling for no less than Mubarak’s resignation and the police force unable to control protests, the government looked for the military to reestablish law and order. In response, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, a body consisting of the generals of each branch of the armed forces, met without the commander-in-chief President Hosni Mubarak for the first time in the entirety of Mubarak’s 30-year rule. The symbolic nature of that meeting and the statement by the military that it would not intervene to break up demonstrations effectively destroyed any hope for Mubarak’s survival, who resigned and was arrested a few days later. Egyptians celebrated and praised the military for taking the side of the people, but unknown to most was whose interest the military acted in, which was not democratic.

 
 

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