Middle East Eye published an article by political analyst Maged Mandour, in which he touched on the evolution of the Sisi regime and its transformation from the 2013 coup to a military dictatorship par excellence.
The author of the article asserted that the position of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been weakened to such an extent that one might struggle to imagine a situation in which he could act against the interests of the military without suffering dire consequences.
Last April, during an event known as the Egyptian Family Breakfast and in the presence of prominent opposition figures, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced the launch of a national dialogue process and a presidential pardon committee, raising hopes for much-needed political and economic reforms that could ease the repression that has prevailed. For the better part of a decade.
Sisi’s announcement came amid a growing economic crisis, which has seen the pound lose more than a third of its value this year, signaling the urgent need to shift away from the regime’s policy of debt-driven growth. However, more than six months later, no serious efforts at reform appear to be being made.
The report added that this can be attributed to the structural constraints imposed on the regime’s ability to initiate top-down reforms, most notably the weakness of the coup presidency in front of the military and security services, which can act as a bulwark against reforms, regardless of Sisi’s intentions.
On the political front, the presidential pardon commission failed miserably. According to Amnesty International, 766 political prisoners were released between April and November, but during the same period, another 1,540 were arrested. This reflects the deepening of repression, a failure that can be partially attributed to to the security services’ resistance to releasing detainees, and the pardon committee’s lack of authority to make binding decisions.
With regard to the resistance of the security services, Kamal Abu Aita, a member of the committee and former Minister of Labor, has publicly expressed his frustration on several occasions, citing his open defiance of presidential release orders. With regard to institutional authority, the Amnesty Committee collects the names of prisoners from their family members and sends a list of names of potential prisoners. Their release to the security services to be approved via WhatsApp, and the process is still very opaque, with no clear criteria for their release.
On the economic front, resistance to potential reforms also became apparent during recent loan negotiations with the International Monetary Fund. On October 27, the International Monetary Fund announced that a preliminary agreement had been reached for a $3 billion loan with the Sisi regime, to be delivered over four years.
After the announcement was made, reports emerged stating that the regime chose a smaller loan amount, because a larger amount would have entailed stricter conditions, the most important of which was reducing the size of the army’s economic footprint and the state’s intervention in the economy.
This decision seems counterintuitive, given that the regime has a funding gap estimated at about $45 billion, and in fact, Goldman Sachs estimated that Egypt needs a loan from the International Monetary Fund of at least $15 billion in order to be able to cover its financing needs. October signaled a strong commitment on the part of the regime to continue its model of military capitalism, regardless of the accompanying economic crisis.
The report pointed out that this resistance to reform stems from a number of interlocking factors that greatly weakened the presidency of the coup, which deprived Sisi of the ability to balance the conflicting forces, and the clearest manifestation of this was the constitutional amendment of 2019, which greatly increased the strength of the military institution. With the weakening of the presidency.
For example, Article 234 was changed to state that the Minister of Defense can only be appointed after the approval of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Effectively, this puts the position out of Sisi’s reach. In addition, an amendment to Article 200 indicates that the military is responsible for Protecting the constitution and democracy in Egypt, as well as the basis of the state and its secular nature, this further elevates the army to a higher status above Sisi.
The report noted that Sisi’s constitutional weakness is exacerbated by the practical weakness of this position in terms of control over the state apparatus and the lack of a civil balance. The state apparatus is crowded out by retired members of the armed forces, not only at the highest levels of the bureaucracy, but also at lower levels of local government and the sector. general.
This phenomenon is not new, he continued, as it was part of a coup-proofing strategy under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, but unlike Mubarak, Sisi does not have a huge civilian ruling party that he can use to balance the military. In fact, there is no evidence that the majority party The supporter of Sisi in parliament, Mostaqbal Watan, plays an active role in policymaking, and does not appear to hold any key government positions.
There is even evidence that the trend towards the militarization of local government has increased. With a legal amendment in July 2020, which stipulates that each province must have a military advisor who acts as a local representative of the Minister of Defense, and communicates with the local community to solve problems in essence, the state bureaucracy has fallen. firmly in the clutches of the military establishment.
The report emphasized that the regime that developed from the 2013 coup is a military dictatorship par excellence, and Sisi’s position has been greatly weakened. The regime is not equipped to adapt and deal with popular pressures, and is more vulnerable to escalating crises, whether political or economic.
“It appears that the regime has been set on a course that will only deepen the country’s crisis, ultimately leading to an extension of popular anger that it is not prepared to deal with,” the report concluded.
Source: بوابة الحرية والعدالة by fj-p.com.
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