My friend Sam Tadros has a new piece in the American Thinker about the recent events in Egypt. There is a lot here, so I’m not going to go into all of it, but one point Sam makes is worth highlighting:
The army never liked Gamal or his friends. Gamal had never served in the military. To add insult to injury his friends were threatening the dominance of the army. The technocrat’s neo-liberal policies were threatening the army’s dominance of the closed economy and the party was becoming step by step an actual organization that competes with the army officers in filling administrative positions. Suddenly the doors to power in Egypt were not a military career but a party ID card. As long as the President was there however, the army was silent. The army is 100% loyal to the President. He is an October War hero and their Commander in Chief. He is seen as an Egyptian patriot by them who has served his country well. Moreover Gamal Abdel Nasser having conducted his own military coup in 1952 put mechanisms in the army to ensure that no one else would do the same and remove him.
He concludes that one of the implications for this is: “Until the economy fails again, the neo-liberal economic policies are over. Forget about an open economy for some time.”
This is important point with the news today that Ahmed Ezz, and Trade and Industry Minister Rashid Mohammed Rashid have had their assets frozen and been banned from leaving the country. I’ve previously mentioned that I’m no fan of Ezz, but the scapegoating of Rashid is absurd. It’s more than fair to disagree with his policies, but he’s not the reason for the current unrest in Egypt. It’s crucial to note that while people like Rashid are being targeted, nobody in the military is finding themselves under the same pressure. It would be naive to wonder why, but this doesn’t ignore the fact that the military has for some time been involved in the massive corruption that has plagued the Egyptian economy. From their base in Nasr City, retired generals own a massive amount of land in Egypt, including many of the new shopping centers that have spread throughout Cairo. Visit any nice mall, hotel, apartment complex, or park in the country and you will find it run by private security firms. Guess who owns those as well?
The economists of the Nazif government engaged in corrupt practices, but they did pose a threat to the entrenched military dominance of every aspect of society. This tension was probably of some benefit for democracy in Egypt. The military was not clean in any of this, and hopefully they will not be able to use the current situation to increase their influence in the economy.