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Wedded to Mubarak:
The Second Careers and Financial Rewards of Egypt’s Military Elite, 1981–2011

This article discusses postretirement appointments and financial rewards the Egyptian military elite secured under former Egyptian president Husni Mubarak. It draws on two original databases: the first analyzes the professional background of the 156 Egyptian governors appointed by Mubarak, and studies the evolution of the military elite’s share of governorship positions throughout his years in power. The second database includes details on postretirement careers of Egypt’s top 65 officers who led the main corps of the armed forces under Mubarak. It analyzes mechanisms used by Mubarak’s predecessors to secure the loyalty of the military elite, and shows that increasing the privileges of the top brass remained a stable feature of control systems that were otherwise fundamentally different. It discusses how Mubarak wedded senior officers to his regime throughout his three decades in power by enhancing their material privileges and allowing them to profit from their postretirement positions, unhindered by monitoring agencies.

In the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring, interest in the military elite’s privileges and political role in Egypt and in the Arab world was renewed after years of neglect. 1 Although insightful contributions have been published recently, we are still only scratching the surface of a complex and a multifaceted phenomenon.2 We know that [End Page 509] three decades passed under Mubarak, from 1981 until 2011, without even an attempted coup. We also know this is unprecedented, and that the history of civil-military relations under Mubarak’s predecessors — Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasser and Anwar Sadat — was more turbulent.3 Finally, we know that senior officers benefited from a generous system of privileges throughout Mubarak’s years in power, which contributed to their political quiescence. However, we still need to learn more about how the former president distributed the spoils among his top brass. In other words, we need to investigate the politics of who-got-what within the higher echelons of the officer corps. This is a subject worth probing considering how pivotal the military elite were for regime maintenance under Mubarak.

The goal of this study is twofold: First, I shed light on Mubarak’s patronage system aimed at maintaining the loyalty of senior officers. Second, I analyze patterns of continuity and change in Egypt’s contemporary civil-military relations. Recall that promoting the interests of the top brass is far from a new practice; rather, it has been the major element of continuity spanning three Egyptian regimes that worked to garner the armed forces’ loyalty in different ways. As soon as the Free Officers seized power after toppling the monarchy in 1952, they wedded their military colleagues to their regime by quickly transforming them from military elite into a “power elite.”4 When Sadat [End Page 510] took office in 1970, he dispensed with the Nasserist emphasis on radical pan-Arab ideology, but he too promoted the interests of the officer corps, as will be demonstrated later in this article. Finally, when Mubarak became president in 1981, he discarded both Nasser’s ideological message and Sadat’s frequent reshuffling tactics. However, he upheld the privileges of the military elite. I show that sustaining the interests of the armed forces’ leaders has been a permanent feature of civil-military relations over three regimes and six decades of authoritarianism in Egypt, a testimony to its indispensability for rulers eager to remain in power through the military by keeping the higher officers loyal. Note that engineering civil-military relations on the basis of patronage rather than ideational affiliation is actually a broad historical process that unfolded during recent decades in different parts of the Middle East. In spite of being confined to Egypt, this study captures the evolution of civil-military relations in postrevolutionary authoritarian regimes throughout the region, as shown by the evolution of civil-military relations in Iraq and Syria throughout the last four decades.5

I proceed as follows: first, I examine Nasser’s and Sadat’s mechanisms of controlling the Egyptian Armed Forces in order to flesh out elements of continuity and change in Egypt’s civil-military relations. Second, I analyze the incorporation of senior officers into Mubarak’s patronage system. I draw on findings regarding the Egyptian military elite’s second careers in local government and the bureaucracy, including the armed forces’ economic empire. Also, I investigate direct financial rewards that Mubarak lavished on the military elite. In the concluding section, I reflect on the system of military privileges following the breakdown of authoritarian rule in 2011.

Egypt’s Military Elite After 1952: Control Mechanisms Under Nasser And Sadat

When they staged their coup in 1952, Nasser and his colleagues were a small group of officers occupying junior and mid-ranking positions in the armed forces. Prior to dethroning King Faruq, they were virtually unknown to the Egyptian public. Shortly after seizing power, the ruling officers promised to achieve social justice through redistributive interventionism, abolishing monopolies, nationalizing foreign-owned businesses, eradicating feudalism, and liberating Egypt from colonialism — a radical agenda that provided a pretext for not relinquishing power and restoring civilian [End Page 511] rule, as they had initially promised to do.6 The policies of the Free Officers’ regime under Nasser gave the military an ideological mission, which transmuted it into an instrument for social transformation. As the state embarked on comprehensive development programs under Nasser — including industrialization projects, agrarian reform, public transportation plans, and building the Aswan High Dam — it counted on the military to provide technological expertise and bureaucratic supervision.7 The nationalist account of the role of the armed forces during Nasser’s regime revolves around a series of heroic deeds, such as toppling a foreign and corrupt dynasty in 1952; striving to redistribute wealth and achieve social justice, while simultaneously defying imperialism abroad; and rising out of the 1967 defeat to prepare for the liberation of Sinai. All of these goals were genuinely held dear by most members of the Armed Forces, as well as the Egyptian population at large. That Nasser became a symbol of Egypt’s efforts to achieve economic prosperity and restore national dignity after decades of foreign occupation created a solid ideational link between the regime over which he presided and the military.

In addition to using ideology as an instrument of control, Nasser politicized appointments and promotions in the armed forces by favoring loyalty over competence, frequently purging suspect officers. The accounts of military leaders who served under him agree that he approached issues related to officers’ careers with the end of preventing a coup.8 An anecdote from the memoirs of Major General Madkur Abu al-‘Izz is particularly significant in that regard. Abu al-‘Izz was appointed Commander of the Egyptian Air Force after its crushing defeat in 1967. Rebuilding the air force was the most immediate necessity for Egypt’s military recovery because of its virtual destruction by Israel, and Abu al-‘Izz needed officers capable of training new pilots. Yet, Nasser ordered him to dismiss ten officers, all of whom were accomplished trainers in the air force, because they had relatives who belonged to the Muslim Brothers.9 The practice of purging officers for political motivations actually began shortly after the 1952 coup. Four hundred fifty officers were dismissed in January 1953 because the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) had deemed them politically untrustworthy.10 Purges continued afterward, though in smaller numbers, and remained a hallmark of the Nasser era.

Apart from ideational links and frequent purges, Nasser gave officers a stake in his regime by actively promoting their private interests. After the 1952 coup, the members of the RCC stipulated that each of them would monitor the work of one [End Page 512] or more ministries.11 Nasser and his colleagues became the de facto supervisors of every ministry, including those previously headed by civilians. In order to build a personal clientele inside the armed forces and make sure that their directives were being implemented, RCC members appointed hundreds of fellow officers as advisors and representatives in the new administration. By 1953, officers occupied scores of prestigious and highly-paid civilian jobs that were unattainable under the monarchy. Anouar Abdel-Malek maintains that 1,500 former officers were appointed to top nonmilitary positions between 1952 and 1964.12 According to Eliezer Be’eri, the number is closer to 1,000.13 Either way, it is clear that the military career remained the most privileged route for recruitment into top ministerial and bureaucratic positions from the beginning of the Nasser era until its demise.

Sadat’s relationship with the officer corps throughout his years in power was tumultuous. Sadat believed Egypt’s honor demanded that he wage war on Israel to liberate the territories that Israel occupied in 1967. However, as Hazem Kandil argued, a successful war would have inevitably brought the military back to the limelight, thereby endangering Sadat’s tenuous position.14 Having less charisma than his predecessor, Sadat needed the military in order to gain popular legitimacy as the liberator of Sinai and to eliminate his competitors within the regime — the Nasserist “centers of power.” At the same time, as an insider to Nasser’s regime, Sadat was cognizant of the power struggle between his predecessor and the military leadership under ‘Abd al-Hakim ‘Amir; he was keen on preventing the generals from forming another state within the state, like they had done throughout ‘Amir’s years as Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Chief of Staff. In order to achieve his goal, Sadat too devised a complex system of controlling the generals.

First, Sadat relied fundamentally on swift rotations in the commandership of the military, divide-and-rule tactics aimed at generating leverage by exploiting cleavages, and the encouragement of competition within the officer corps. At the beginning of his tenure, when he was still struggling for survival, Sadat benefited from ideological frictions within the military elite to isolate his competitors. Soviet advisors had made themselves unpopular among Egyptian officers, and the USSR sometimes lagged in delivering weapons to Egypt. The ensuing anti-Soviet sentiment among military leaders benefitted Sadat, whose main competitor in the military was Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Commander Muhammad Fawzi, an ally of the Soviets. But more instrumental than ideological animosities, Sadat used personal rivalries to forge an initially tenuous grip over the military. Senior officers were in constant competition for top appointments in the armed forces and they blocked one another’s professional advancement. Sadat used intramilitary rivalries to his advantage by building numerous alliances with second-tier officers in the military hierarchy with the intent to sever armed forces’ commanders from their institutional bases.15 Military leaders were thus kept dependent [End Page 513] on presidential authority and easily replaceable.16

Divide-and-rule tactics were the pillar of Sadat’s system of control. But Sadat, like Nasser before him, also relied on promoting the privileges of the officer corps. Students of Egyptian politics have long maintained that the demilitarization of the Egyptian cabinet and diplomatic corps began under Sadat.17 They correctly assert that the military became less privileged after Nasser’s death. However, the decline in the military’s stature during Sadat’s tenure was only relative. Indeed, it must be remembered that the seeds of the military’s economic empire which later flourished under Mubarak’s long tenure were planted during Sadat’s rule. The military’s involvement in the economy gave the Egyptian generals a new public role to play in a time of peace, just when the postwar period reduced the need for their role as the nation’s bulwark against Israel. The strategic rationale behind the military’s economic mission was thus threefold: to rebrand the armed forces as a major contributor to Egypt’s prosperity, and thus garner the same degree of reverence and special treatment they enjoyed in war times; to avoid laying off thousands of officers no longer needed in the military after the signature of the 1978 Camp David Accords; and to find new venues for the top brass to pursue their private interests, provided they remain politically quiescent.

Finally, Sadat too cultivated ideational links with the armed forces, albeit markedly different than Nasser’s. To be sure, Sadat’s move away from pan-Arabism after 1973 alienated the Nasserist intelligentsia and those sectors of the articulate public committed to ideals of pan-Arabism. Yet, the highly nationalistic officer corps was generally sensitive to Sadat’s Egypt-first orientation and ready to be convinced that in the Arabs’ war with Israel, “it was Egyptians who died while other Arab states postured and orated.”18 Sadat’s underlying argument was that the Egyptian military had paid a heavy price to fulfill its country’s pan-Arab commitment: it fought in 1948 to defend the Palestinians, from 1962 to 1967 to help the Yemenis, and in June 1967 to take pressure off the Syrians. After their creditable performance [End Page 514] in the 1973 war, it was time for the armed forces to be shielded from further confrontations with Israel and for Egypt to prioritize its own interests. This narrative of contemporary Egyptian history and Sadat’s inward-looking shift drew the military closer to his rule, although civil-military relations remained fundamentally tainted by mutual suspicion. Sadat’s retreat from the flamboyant pan-Arab engagement of Nasser, symbolized by changing the country’s name from the United Arab Republic to the Arab Republic of Egypt, was in tune with the mainstream political sympathies of the officer corps which had become, by the time he took office, “impervious” to radical pan-Arab ideological appeals.19

Egypt’s Military Elite Under Mubarak: Analysis Of The Rewards System

Unlike his predecessors’ stormy beginnings, Husni Mubarak’s rise to power in Egypt after the assassination of Sadat in 1981 went smoothly due to the absence of elite conspiracies against his rule. In the wake of the 1967 defeat, the officer corps had become more focused on the professional aspects of its mission, and was therefore reluctant to intervene in politics. By the time Mubarak took office in the early 1980s, the military was politically quiescent, and it remained so during the rest of his tenure. The depoliticization of the military elite allowed Mubarak to forge a system of control relatively less complex than that of the former presidents, leaning more on the carrots of material largesse, rather than the sticks of permanent purges and reshuffles.

Under Mubarak, no ideational link wedded the military to the presidency. The Nasserist discourse of social transformation had been long abandoned, and Egypt was at peace with Israel. Mubarak had no grand mission to offer the officers, either as champions of the poor or as liberators of occupied land. Neither his aloof personality nor his repetitive discourse on “stability” gave Mubarak the charismatic aura of his predecessors, which had united the military behind them.20 Just like Sadat before him, Mubarak did not allow the emergence of a strong commander of the armed forces under his rule. Mubarak sacked his first defense minister, Field Marshal ‘Abd al-Halim Abu Ghazala in 1989, because the latter combined ambition and popularity within the ranks of the armed forces.21 After a brief interlude with Yusuf Sabri Abu Talib, Mubarak appointed Field Marshal Muhammad Husayn Tantawi commander of the military in 1991 and kept Tantawi in office until the fall of his regime because the commander was not a threatening figure. Yet, as a disciplined career officer, Mubarak was not inclined to resurrect Sadat’s divide-and-rule tactics.22 The practice that Mubarak did retain from [End Page 515] his predecessors’ elaborate control systems was the promotion of the military elite’s private interests. Table 1 presents an overview of control mechanisms used by Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak to keep the Egyptian Armed Forces loyal.

Fundamentally, the Mubarak system of control was built on a promise of the accumulation of pecuniary rewards and a postretirement career for officers who had remained reliable throughout their tenure.23 Senior officers aspired to appointment in prized positions in the state bureaucracy, some of which offered particularly profitable opportunities. They could also receive direct cash payments, or if involved in the arms trade, commissions. Mid-ranking and junior officers did not do as well. The monthly salary of a lieutenant in the armed forces was, by the end of Mubarak’s rule, barely LE 2,000 (US $333). The military did offer a health care system and housing facilities, but a young officer might have to wait three to five years before receiving a modest apartment. An officer would then have to spend a part of his salary on monthly payments.24 But if these officers remained loyal or, at least apolitical, they could rise in the hierarchy and join the circle of privileged senior officers. In other words, their turn could come if they complied with the system.

Mechanisms of Controlling the Egyptian Armed Forces, by President
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Table 1. 

Mechanisms of Controlling the Egyptian Armed Forces, by President

Appointments In Local Government

Of the 156 governors appointed under Mubarak, 63 hailed from the armed forces’ ranks. Table 2 (on the following page) presents the professional background of all governors appointed by Mubarak throughout his years in power. [End Page 516]

The Background of Governors Appointed under Mubarak, by Decade25
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Table 2. 

The Background of Governors Appointed under Mubarak, by Decade25

The importance of governorship appointments as rewards for the military elite is illustrated by the seniority of officers who occupied these positions. Of the seven commanders of the Republican Guard who served under Mubarak and retired while he was in office, four were appointed governors.26 Eleven of the 21 officers who commanded the Second Field Army (SFA) and the Third Field Army (TFA) — Egypt’s main army corps — and retired under Mubarak, were appointed governors, six of them from the SFA and five from the TFA.27 The former president did not appoint any retired officer [End Page 517] to a governorship unless that officer had reached the rank of major general (liwa’) prior to retirement. The regime justified this on the grounds that the officers’ military backgrounds better prepared them in comparison to civilians in handling defense-related issues in Egypt’s peripheral governorates, thereby justifying their appointments as governors. Table 3 (on the following page) shows that governorates with the highest concentration of governors hailing from the armed forces were indeed all located on Egypt’s western, eastern and southern frontiers.

Whether defense-related considerations were genuine or only a pretext to appoint officers in governors’ positions is debatable. What is clear, however, is that officers typically benefited from their wide prerogatives as governors for the purpose of self-enrichment. Stories about their corruption abound, the most frequent of which relate to the privatization of public property, as well as the selling of plots below market prices and other questionable real estate deals, all in exchange for personal profit. In one recent case, charges were brought against Major General Sa‘d Khalil, the former governor of Matruh, for severely underpricing 1,659 acres in the region of El ‘Alamein on Egypt’s northern coast. The deal that Khalil struck cost the public treasury more than LE 1 billion ($167 million) in lost remittances.28 Major General Samir Farag, former governor of Luxor, was arrested for selling an Olympic Games stadium for LE 44 million ($7.3 million), whereas the actual market price should have been more than LE 350 billion ($58.3 million). The public treasury thus lost more than LE 306 million ($51 million) in the deal.29 Other governors recently accused of similar shadowy transactions include former Suez governor Sayf al-Din Galal; ‘Abd al-Galil al-Fakhrani, former governor of Isma‘iliyya; and ‘Abd al-Fadil Shusha, former governor of South Sinai, all retired military officers. This list is not exhaustive, yet the sums involved expose the kind of fortunes officers could make, unhindered, under Mubarak.30 The fact that opulence potentially awaited retired generals enjoying the regime’s patronage gave officers an incentive to gain Mubarak’s favor. Equally as important, the protection from prosecution for illegal activities that Mubarak offered drew corrupt senior officers closer to him, provided they remained loyal. [End Page 518]

Egyptian Governorates with the Highest Proportion of Governors with a Military Background Appointed under Mubarak31
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Table 3. 

Egyptian Governorates with the Highest Proportion of Governors with a Military Background Appointed under Mubarak31

Governors sit at the apex of local government in Egypt. Below them is an intricate hierarchy supervised by deputy governors, heads of cities (ru’asa’ mudun) and boroughs (ru’asa’ ahya’). These subordinate positions also provided officers with opportunities for postretirement careers. Of Cairo’s 25 boroughs, 14 were headed by senior officers in 2011. Eleven officers occupied similar positions in Giza, eight in Alexandria, eight in Suez, and nine in the Red Sea Governorate.32 The same pattern repeats itself over all of Egypt’s 27 governorates. In addition, each of these governorates has its own departments for welfare, education, and health services. Officers have occupied leadership positions in these subdivisions as well. It is estimated that 2,000 posts in the different departments related to local governments are occupied by retired senior officers.33 [End Page 519]

Second Careers of Republican Guard (RG) Commanders Appointed under Mubarak, by Decade
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Table 4. 

Second Careers of Republican Guard (RG) Commanders Appointed under Mubarak, by Decade

[End Page 520]

Second Careers of the Second Field Army Commanders Appointed under Mubarak, by Decade
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Table 5. 

Second Careers of the Second Field Army Commanders Appointed under Mubarak, by Decade

[End Page 521]

Second Careers of Third Field Army Commanders Appointed under Mubarak, by Decade
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Table 6. 

Second Careers of Third Field Army Commanders Appointed under Mubarak, by Decade

[End Page 522]

Appointments In The Bureaucracy

In addition to local government, officers were also prominently appointed to different segments of the bureaucracy and state-owned companies. Remarkably, the pattern of appointments reveals a certain degree of “specialization,” giving officers from specific corps an advantage over others in securing appointments in certain bureaucratic sectors. The previous section clearly shows that senior officers from the army were more likely to get positions in local government than their colleagues in the navy or the air force. Similarly, officers who served in the navy were more likely to dominate the sinecures available in maritime transport than their peers in the army or the air force. Table 7 on the following page shows that the last three commanders of the navy under Mubarak all occupied leadership positions in the Suez Canal or the National Navigation Company (al-Sharika al-Misriyya li-l-Milaha al-Bahriyya). The chairmen of the ports in Alexandria, Port Said, Damietta, and the Red Sea, as well as directors of different subdivisions within these ports, were systematically drawn from the ranks of former navy officers to an extent that justifies claims that maritime transport in Egypt had fallen under “military occupation.”34 An account from International Review, an Egyptian bimonthly publication specializing in maritime affairs, encapsulates the wider picture. The Review reported that officials in the port of Alexandria organized an event to pay tribute to Major General Tawfiq Abu Gundiyya and Major General Ibrahim Yusuf, both former chairmen of the Alexandria Port Authority. I quote at length its account of the evening:

In attendance were Major General Mamduh Diraz, Chairman of the Red Sea Ports Authority; Major General Ibrahim Sadiq, Chairman of the Port Sa‘id Port Authority; Major General al-Sayyid Hidaya, Chairman of the Damietta Port Authority; Major General Ahmad Mansur, Chairman of the Alexandria Shipping Company; Major General Muhammad Zaki, Chairman of the Egyptian Company for Containers; and Major General Munir Abu Samra, chairman of the Egyptian Company for Maritime Imports. Major General Nabil Hilmi, Chairman of the Alexandria Port Authority, also paid tribute to his predecessors, Major General Hani Hasani, Major General Salah Mukhtar, Major General Hasan Husni, Major General Muhammad Farag Lutfi and Major General Muhammad Yusuf.35 [End Page 523]

Second Careers of Navy Commanders Appointed under Mubarak, by Decade
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Table 7. 

Second Careers of Navy Commanders Appointed under Mubarak, by Decade

In a similar fashion, former officers from the Signal Corps moved into telecommunication and information sectors, whereas officers from the air force occupied positions in civil aviation and airports.36 Some of the senior officers commanding the air forces and the air defense brigades were also appointed to the diplomatic corps (see Tables 8 and 9, on the following pages). Allegedly, the officers were hired so the civilian sectors could benefit from the technological skills they gained during their years of service.37 But it must be noted that former generals have frequently been hired in bureaucracies in which their military background could not have been an asset. The Egyptian Authority for Antiquities (Hay’at al-Athar al-Misriyya), where 88 former major generals had secured sinecures, is a case in point.38 The Ministry of Environment is another example: a recent study showed that 35 positions throughout its upper echelons were occupied by retired generals. Officers were also heavily represented in the ministries of housing, transportation, industry, information, and oil. By and large, 173 major generals and 30 brigadier generals and colonels were found to occupy undersecretary, general director, and other leadership positions in the Egyptian bureaucracy.39 [End Page 524]

Second Careers of Air Force Commanders Appointed under Mubarak, by Decade
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Table 8. 

Second Careers of Air Force Commanders Appointed under Mubarak, by Decade

Second Careers of Air Defense Brigades Commanders Appointed under Mubarak, by Decade
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Table 9. 

Second Careers of Air Defense Brigades Commanders Appointed under Mubarak, by Decade

[End Page 525]

Besides being appointed in the bureaucracy at large, retired officers occupied hundreds of managerial positions in what Robert Springborg labels “Military, Inc.,” i.e. the armed forces’ economic empire.40 The major military bodies engaged in economic activities are the ministry of military production, the Arab Industrial Organization (AIO), and the National Service Projects Organization (NSPO). Together, they run 35 factories and farms. According to Zeinab Abul-Magd, a historian whose articles on the Egyptian Armed Forces’ economic role have circulated widely, 40% of what the Ministry of Military Production manufactures is actually nonmilitary products. Furthermore, although the AIO is Egypt’s premier weapons manufacturer, 70% of its products are also geared toward nonmilitary merchandise. Finally, the NSPO exclusively manufactures nonmilitary equipment.41 These three institutions have always been headed by prominent officers who belong to the military elite’s first tier. The AIO has become a fiefdom of retired chiefs of staff and no officer below the rank of major general has ever directed the National Service Products Organization. Factories, hotels, military clubs, and other income-generating enterprises are also directed by officers, albeit less influential ones. The whole system of military enterprises operates outside the control of both parliament and the Organization of Administrative Monitoring (Hay’at al-Raqaba al-Idariyya), which is also dominated by retired generals. Officers are not accountable for the income streams generated by the armed forces’ economic activities because the related information is considered to be “military secrets.” As such, it cannot be disclosed to civilians. Unsurprisingly, in an environment deliberately kept free from outside monitoring, crass material games became rife among senior officers who reaped extremely generous dividends from the armed forces’ economic activities.42 [End Page 526]

Second Careers of Chiefs of Staff Appointed under Mubarak, by Decade
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Table 10. 

Second Careers of Chiefs of Staff Appointed under Mubarak, by Decade

Direct Cash Payments

The public budget of the Egyptian state designated significant resources for disaster management, emergency response, and other security-related activities. The president was constitutionally mandated to spend the funds allocated in the Egyptian state budget’s general expenses clause sustaining the efforts of public institutions active in these fields. In the 1991/92 budget, LE 2.07 billion ($333 million) were set aside for these purposes. As the sum grew exponentially on an annual basis, it reached LE 16.5 billion ($2.75 billion) in 2005/06, constituting around 9% of the total budget for that year. However, rather than spending the money according to the original design, the Mubarak regime distributed a portion of it among military and police leaders in direct cash installments dubbed ‘alawat wala’ (literally: loyalty allowance).43 These sums were originally allocated to the highest echelons of the armed forces, including officers at the ranks of field marshal (mushir), lieutenant general (fariq awwal), and general (fariq). From there, the money trickled down to some senior officers holding the ranks of major general (liwa’) and brigadier general (‘amid).44 Throughout [End Page 527] Mubarak’s thirty-year rule, the parliament never questioned these practices nor investigated how the funds were spent. A retired rear admiral in the Egyptian navy who did not wish to be quoted said in an interview that loyalty bonuses, also known as envelopes of loyalty (zuruf wala’), were a matter of public knowledge in the Armed Forces. He maintained that all the officers who were members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) benefitted from these payments in addition to an unidentified number of senior officers who did not belong to SCAF.45

Another source of cash payments were commissions related to the arms trade. Egypt purchased its heavy weaponry from Western powers, mainly the United States. The American aid program to the Egyptian armed forces amounting to $1.3 billion annually was predicated on the condition that the Egyptian military procure armaments from American companies using these sums. However, the Egyptian military was left free to decide which weapons to buy and from which manufacturers. According to a retired general familiar with the workings of SCAF, the commissions frequently ensured that certain companies were selected over others. He maintains that Mubarak, Tantawi, and a few high ranking officers in SCAF took cuts in every deal the Egyptian military signed over Mubarak’s office and that the sums, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, were kept in bank accounts abroad.46 The Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm published a 2009 document that exposed the underworld of shady arms deals by the US Securities and Exchange Commission revealed the dealings of the United Industrial Corporation (UIC) in Egypt. One of the corporation’s subsidiaries — ACL Technologies, specializing in aerospace and defense systems — paid an undisclosed retired major general in the Egyptian Air Force LE 3.38 million ($564,000) to act as its middleman in Cairo between 1997 and 2002. In exchange for these fees, the officer used his personal connections within the Egyptian Air Force to secure contracts amounting to 384 million Egyptian pounds (64 million dollars). In addition to the sums he secured for himself, the e-mail exchange between the retired general and ACL shows a constant demand for more money to be distributed among “decision-makers” in the Egyptian Air Force, in exchange for the promise of future business contracts with UIC.47 [End Page 528]


Over the course of his rule, Husni Mubarak made the military elite wealthy and unanswerable to the law in return for their loyalty. His predecessors, Nasser and Sadat, also allowed the top brass to enrich themselves unimpeded by monitoring agencies. This article has shown that promoting the interests of senior officers has been a hallmark of Egyptian civil-military relations throughout the last six decades. Egypt’s rulers differed in their personalities and policies, but all shared common popular mandates of dubious validity. Their survival in office depended on wedding the leaders of the coercive apparatus to their rule, an imperative they achieved by transforming Egypt into a “military society.”48 Nasser opened the doors of the bureaucracy to the officers. Sadat founded their economic empire. Mubarak encouraged the military’s involvement in business while keeping the Nasser-era tradition of appointing officers to prized civilian positions. As managers of economic enterprises, the military elite benefited from the business-friendly orientation of the Mubarak regime to expand their activities. Privileges such as cheap labor provided by soldiers-turned-workers, tax exemptions, and control over public lands made “Military, Inc.” competitive and its business profitable. The former officers also became affluent as top bureaucrats. The privatization process that began in 1993 generated wealth for both businessmen, who acquired underpriced public companies, and state officials who sold state-owned assets in exchange for generous commissions and private rewards. The corrupt governors I mentioned above are only a sample of a much broader phenomenon. The extensive changes in the Egyptian political economy brought by the neoliberal turn gave Mubarak new avenues — unavailable to his predecessors — to reward the allegiance of the military elite.

Egyptian generals fought hard to safeguard their interests after Mubarak’s fall in 2011. The extreme polarization of Egypt’s political scene, pitting the Muslim Brothers against their secularist opponents, enhanced the officers’ position in the correlation of power between the military and civilian actors. For Egypt to transition to democracy, placating the military’s leaders must cease to be a political a priority overriding all others. A progressive civilianization of the positions occupied by retired generals, and granting more authority to oversight agencies to monitor the military elite’s economic transactions is also necessary. But at the moment of this writing, the Egyptian military elite appear more powerful than ever after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi and his placement into custody. Whereas it remains to be seen how the Egyptian crisis will unfold, it seems safe to predict that the privileges of the military elite will not be curtailed anytime soon. [End Page 529]

Hicham Bou Nassif  

Hicham Bou Nassif is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Indiana University–Bloomington and a visiting lecturer at Indiana University-Purdue University–Indianapolis. He wishes to thank Professor Kevin Martin, Professor William Thompson, and Professor Jeffrey Isaac, all at Indiana University, as well as Professor Alfred Stepan, at Columbia University, for their support during fieldwork and their useful comments on the manuscript. He also acknowledges the contribution of anonymous reviewers at The Middle East Journal, for their valuable comments on the manuscript. Chris Toesning, Paul Caudill, and Aimee Dobbs read a first draft of the article and contributed to editing.

Appendix 1

  • I used the following presidential decisions (qararat jumhuriyya) to collect the data that appear in Table 2:

  • Decision 31 – January 2011 (Official Gazette N’4 bis – 30th January 2011).

  • Decision 34 – January 2011 (Official Gazette N’4 bis – 30th January 2011).

  • Decision 40 – 2011 (Official Gazette N’4 bis B – 31st January 2011).

  • Decision 4 – 2010 (Official Gazette N’53 bis – 3rd January 2010).

  • Decision 379 – 2009 (Official Gazette N’49 bis B – 9th December 2009).

  • Decision 115 – 2008 (Official Gazette N’16 A – 17th April 2008).

  • Decision 2 – 2006 (Official Gazette N’52 B – 1st April 2006).

  • Decision 309 – 2006 (Official Gazette N’34 bis – 27th August 2006).

  • Decision 204 – 2004 (Official Gazette N’29 bis – 15th July 2004).

  • Decision 230 – 2001 (Official Gazette N’28 bis A – 17th July 2001).

  • Decision 384 – 1999 (Official Gazette N’43 bis G – 1st November 1999).

  • Decision 226 – 1997 (Official Gazette N’27 bis A – 9th July 1997).

  • Decision 27 – 1996 (Official Gazette N’4 – 25th January 1996).

  • Decision 231 – 1994 (Official Gazette N’32 – 11th August 1994).

  • Decision 144 – 1993 (Official Gazette N’17 – 29th April 1993).

  • Decision 454 – 1993 (Official Gazette N’49 – 9th December 1993).

  • Decision 455 – 1993 (Official Gazette N’50 – 16th December 1993).

  • Decision 170 – 1992 (Official Gazette N’20 – 14th May 1992).

  • Decision 92 – 1991 (Official Gazette N’192 – 30th May 1991).

  • Decision 126 – 1991 (Official Gazette N’13 – 28th March 1991).

  • Decision 339 – 1991 (Official Gazette N’35 – 29th August 1991).

  • Decision 220 – 1990 (Official Gazette N’19 – 10th May 1990).

  • Decision 140 – 1989 (Official Gazette N’140 – 20th April 1989).

  • Decision 154 – 1989 (Official Gazette N’154 – 11th May 1989).

  • Decision 443 – 1987 (Official Gazette N’42 bis – 19th April 1987).

  • Decision 306 – 1986 (Official Gazette N’30 – 24th July 1986).

  • Decision 311 – 1986 (Official Gazette N’30 – 24th July 1986).

  • Decision 13 – 1984 (Official Gazette N’13 – 29th March 1984).

  • Decision 10 – 1984 (Official Gazette N’10 – 8th March 1984).

  • Decision 60 – 1984 (Official Gazette N’10 – 8th March 1984).

  • Decision 43 – 1984 (Official Gazette N’43 – 25th October 1984).

  • Decision 77 – 1983 (Official Gazette N’12 – 24th March 1983).

  • Decision 229 – 1982 (Official Gazette N’21 – 27th May 1982).

  • Decision 129 – 1982 (Official Gazette N’12 – 25th March 1982).

  • Decision 431 – 1982 (Official Gazette N’37 – 16th September 1982).

There are 273 names included in these decisions. But many governors were appointed more than once, which reduces the actual number to 156. Note that the texts of presidential decisions mention only the names of the governors. In order to get their professional backgrounds, I used the archives of several Egyptian and Arab newspapers, mainly, Al-Ahram, Shourouk, Al-Masry Al-Youm, Akhbar el-Yom, al-Wafd, al-Gomhuria, and Asharq Al Awsat. [End Page 530]


1. Decades back, Arab civil-military relations were in vogue as a topic of scholarly inquiry in Western scholarship. Landmark studies from this period include, P.J. Vatikiotis, The Egyptian Army in Politics: Pattern for New Nations? (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1961); J.C. Hurewitz, Middle East Politics: The Military Dimension (New York: Praeger, 1969); Eliezer Be’eri, Army Officers in Arab Politics and Society (New York: Praeger, 1970); and Anouar Abdel-Malek, Egypt: Military Society; The Army Regime, the Left, and Social Change under Nasser (New York: Random House, 1968). But the tide turned after the Arab military coups of the 1950s and 1960s ended and the regimes stabilized. Notable exceptions include an excellent study by Oren Barak, The Lebanese Army: A National Institution in a Divided Society (New York: SUNY Press, 2009).

2. See, Yezid Sayigh, Above the State: The Officers’ Republic in Egypt (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2012), http://carnegieendowment.org/fles/officers_republic1.pdf; Zeinab Abul-Magd, “The Egyptian Republic of Retired Generals,” Foreign Policy, May 8, 2012, http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/05/08/the_egyptian_republic_of_retired_generals; Zeinab Abul-Magd, “The Army and the Economy in Egypt,” Jadaliyya, December 23, 2011, http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/3732/; Shana Marshall, “Egypt’s Other Revolution: Modernizing the Military-Industrial Complex,” Jadaliyya, February 10, 2012, http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/4311/egypts-other-revolution_modernizing-the-military-i; and Shana Marshall and Joshua Stacher, “Egypt’s Generals and Transnational Capital”, Middle East Report, No. 262 (Spring 2012), pp. 12–19; see also, Yezid Sayigh et al., “Roundtable: Rethinking the Study of Middle East Militaries,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 43, No. 3 (August 2011), pp. 391–407.

3. Nasser faced five mutinies originating from the military during his rule. After the 1967 debacle, Commander of the Armed Forces ‘Abd al-Hakim ‘Amir and the Defense Minister Shams Badran prepared to stage a coup, when they and their networks were purged following the disastrous performance of the armed forces in the war with Israel that year. For details on the ‘Amir-Badran affair, see Faruq Fahmi, I‘tirafat Shams Badran wa-Mu’amarat 67 [The Confessions of Shams Badran and the ’67 Plot] (Cairo: Mu’assasat Amun al-Haditha, 1989). Other unrest against Nasser included the mutinies of artillery officers in 1953 and armored corps officers in 1954, the Hasan Rif‘at coup attempt in 1962, and the conspiracy of officers advocating a quick withdrawal from Yemen in 1966. All were unsuccessful. See, respectively, Gamal Hammad, Asrar Thawrat 23 Yuliyu [Secrets of the July 23 Revolution], (Cairo: Dar al-‘Ulum, 2011); Khalid Muhyi al-Din, Wa-l-an Atakallam [And Now I Speak] (Cairo: Al-Ahram Center for Translation and Publishing, 1992); ‘Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi, Mudhakkirat [Memoirs] (Cairo: al-Maktab al-Misri al-Hadith, 1977); and George Haddad, Revolution and Military Rule in the Middle East: The Arab States; Volume II: Egypt, the Sudan, Yemen and Libya (New York: Robert Speller and Sons, 1973). Sadat faced two coup attempts. The first came early in his office when the leader of the armed forces, Field Marshal Muhammad Fawzi, tried unsuccessfully to incite the military elite to remove Sadat from office. Fawzi and his allies were later purged from the armed forces when Sadat emerged triumphant in the 1971 “Corrective Revolution.” See the memoirs of Muhammad Fawzi, Istiratijiyyat al-Musalaha: al-Juz’ al-Thani Mudhakkirat al-Fariq Awwal Muhammad Fawzi [Reconciliation Strategy: The Second Part of Lieutenant General Muhammad Fawzi’s Memoirs] (Cairo: Dar al-Mustaqbal al-‘Arabi. 1986). See also, Anis Mansur, Min Awraq al-Sadat [From Sadat’s Papers] (Cairo: Dar al-Ma‘arif, 2010). In 1972, another coup attempt led by Major General ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Khabir was also uncovered and nipped in the bud. See Sa‘d al-Din al-Shadhili, Harb Uktubir: Mudhakkirat Sa‘d al-Din al-Shadhili [The October War: Memoirs of Sa‘d al-Din al-Shadhili] (Cairo: Dar Ru’ya li-l-Nashr wa-l-Tawzi‘, 2011).

4. C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite (New York: Oxford University Press, 1956).

5. Civil-military relations in Syria followed a pattern comparable to Egypt’s. Salah Jadid, Syria’s strongman in the 1960s, relied on his aura of ideological purity, among other control mechanisms, to gain supporters in the armed forces. He was not personally corrupt and did not use financial incentives to keep the officer corps loyal to him. By contrast, Bashar al-Asad, who became Syria’s president in 2000, wedded the military elite to his regime by allowing them to use coercive power for self-enrichment purposes, a process initiated by his father Hafiz al-Asad, Syria’s president from 1970 until 2000. See Bassam Haddad, Business Networks in Syria, The Political Economy of Authoritarian Resilience (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012), p. 68. Civil-military relations in Iraq are another case in point. ‘Abd al-Karim Qasim, the first ruler of Iraq after the fall of the monarchy in 1958, lived modestly and cultivated an image of incorruptibility. He was not known for using monetary incentives to cultivate the loyalty of the armed forces. But from the time he seized power in 1979 until his downfall in 2003, Saddam Hussein lavished generous material rewards on his officers to keep the armed forces loyal. See, Joseph Sassoon, Saddam Hussein’s Ba‘th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 140–41, 214–15.

6. See, Hammad, Secrets of the July 23 Revolution, p 536; Baghdadi, Memoirs, p. 69.

7. Muhammad ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Gamasi, Mudhakkirat al-Gamasi: Harb Uktubir 1973 [Gamasi’s Memoirs: The 1973 October War] (San Francisco: Dar Buhuth al-Sharq al-Awsat al-Amayrikiyya), p. 132.

8. Amin Huwaydi, Khamsun ‘Aman min al-‘Awasif: Ma Ra’aytuh, Qultuh [Fifty Years since the Storms: That Which I Saw, I Said] (Cairo: Al-Ahram Center for Translation and Publishing, 2002), p. 228; Muhammad Fawzi and ‘Abdullah Imam, al-Fariq Muhammad Fawzi: al-Naksa, al-Istinzaf, al-Sijn [General Muhammad Fawzi: The Setback, Exhaustion, Prison] (Cairo: Dar al-Khayal, 2001) pp 29-30; Gamasi, Gamasi’s Memoirs, p. 128.

09. Muhammad al-Gawwadi, Fi A‘qab al-Naksa: Mudhakkirat Qadat al-‘Askariyya al-Misriyya, 1967–1972 [Among the Effects of the Setback: Memoirs of the Egyptian Military Leadership, 1967– 1972] (Cairo: Dar al-Khayyal, 2001), p. 119.

10. Abdel-Malek, Egypt, p. 92.

11. Muhyi al-Din, And Now I Speak, p. 196.

12. Abdel-Malek, Egypt, p. xix.

13. Be’eri, Army Officers in Arab Politics and Society, p. 429.

14. Hazem Kandil, Soldiers, Spies, and Statesmen: Egypt’s Road to Revolt (New York: Verso, 2012), p. 113.

15. Raymond A. Hinnebusch, Jr., Egyptian Politics under Sadat, The Post-Populist Development of an Authoritarian-Modernizing State, (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1988), p 43.

16. During Nasser’s fourteen years as president (1956–70), only two officers commanded the armed forces, namely, ‘Abd al-Hakim ‘Amir from the beginning until 1967, and Muhammad Fawzi from 1967 to 1970. The contradistinction with Sadat, who appointed seven armed forces’ commanders during his eleven years in power from 1970 until 1981, is striking. In the 1971 purge, Sadat sacked Fawzi, whom he jailed and replaced with Chief of Staff Muhammad Sadiq. Only a year later, Sadiq himself was put under house arrest and Ahmad Isma‘il became the third armed forces commander under Sadat. When Isma‘il died in 1974, Sadat chose ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Gamasi to lead the armed forces. By 1978, Gamasi had become disillusioned with Sadat’s handling of negotiations with Israel. He was replaced by Kamal Hasan ‘Ali, who was also sacked shortly afterward. Sadat then appointed Ahmad Badawi commander of the armed forces, but Badawi died with twelve senior officers in a helicopter crash in 1981. ‘Abd al-Halim Abu Ghazala became the next commander of the armed forces, the last whom Sadat appointed before his assassination in 1981. By allowing top officers to retain the armed forces’ commandership only briefly, Sadat prevented them from building a personal following within the military; they remained deprived of coercive bases. See, Robert Springborg, Mubarak’s Egypt: Fragmentation of the Political Order (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1989), p. 97.

17. See, Imad Harb, “The Egyptian Military in Politics: Disengagement or Accommodation?” The Middle East Journal, Vol. 57, No. 2 (Spring 2003), p. 283; and Mark Cooper, The Transformation of Egypt (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982), p. 153.

18. Thomas Lippmann, Egypt after Nasser: Sadat, Peace, and the Mirage of Prosperity (Minneapolis: Paragon House, 1989), p. 183.

19. Hinnebusch, Egyptian Politics under Sadat, p. 127.

21. That Mubarak came from a small corps within the military, i.e., the air force, and not from the army meant that his fellow officers to whom he could directly reach out as colleagues and cohort members were smaller in number. This contributed to the lack of warmth that characterized Mubarak’s relations with the officer corps, despite their fundamental stability over three decades. Interview by author with Major General (ret.) Tal‘at Musallim, June 27, 2012, Cairo.

21. For an interesting account on the Mubarak–Abu Ghazala interaction, see, Springborg, Mubarak’s Egypt, pp. 95–133.

22. Springborg, Mubarak’s Egypt, p. 98.

23. Egyptian officers typically retire in their mid-fifties. But they can be called back to active duty again under renewable short-term contracts. It is possible for the commander of the armed forces to repetitively renew these contracts over years in order to keep officers he wishes to maintain within the armed forces ranks in active duty. Interview by author with Major General (ret.) Ahmad ‘Abd al-Halim, July 12, 2012, Cairo.

24. Interview by author with Major General Muhammad Qadri Sa‘id, July 1, 2012, Cairo.

25. See Appendix 1 for the list of references used in Table 2. Note that in his informative study on EAF officers under Mubarak, Yezid Sayigh maintains that “Since the 90s, 50–80 percent of the governors at any given moment have been drawn from the military.” Sayigh’s assumption is widely shared by students of Egyptian politics, but my findings suggest that estimates regarding the military officers’ absolute dominance over governors’ positions should be qualified. See, Sayigh, Above the State, p. 14.

26. Note that three of the four Republican Guard commanders who were appointed governors were posted in South Sinai where Sharm al-Shaykh is located. Mubarak used to vacation frequently in Sharm al-Shaykh and he assigned the governorship of the region to officers he knew particularly well. In that regard, commanders of the Republican Guard were a natural choice. That Mubarak frequently appointed commanders of the Republican Guard as governors of South Sinai was a sign of favor. In fact, when Tantawi became minister of defense in 1991, it was the first time in the history of Egypt a commander of the armed forces was chosen from the ranks of the Republican Guard, which Tantawi had led until then. In addition, General Magdi Hatata and General Hamdi Wahiba, respectively the fifth and the sixth commanders of the Republican Guard under Mubarak, were both appointed chiefs of staff of the armed forces, a previously unseen pattern. When it was formed under Nasser, the Republican Guard was not a particularly prestigious corps within the military. Its importance grew under Sadat who relied heavily on it during the 1971 purges. The Republican Guard became even more prominent under Mubarak, who sat next to Sadat when the latter was assassinated in 1981, and henceforth developed a keen concern for his personal security when he himself became president. The Republican Guard was directly in charge of protecting the president and his family, and Mubarak was eager to gain its loyalty. In addition, Mubarak escaped death in a 1995 assassination attempt in Addis Ababa only due to the forceful and swift intervention of his security team from the Republican Guard. From then on, the Republican Guard became particularly privileged as a corps and its prominence was accentuated, among other signs of favor, by the civilian appointments bestowed upon its commanders after retirement. Interview, Tal‘at Musallim, June 27, 2012.

27. I collected this data from successive issues of Majallat al-Nasr, the official journal of the EAF. Also, I used the archives of three Egyptian newspapers, Al-Ahram, Akhbar el-Yom, and al-Gomhouria to investigate civilian appointments after military retirements. A retired Major General of the Egyptian intelligence who did not wish to be named was helpful in filling in the gaps, interviewed by author, June 25, 2012, Cairo. I used the same references to collect the data in Tables 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Note that top officers commanding the other main branches of the armed forces, namely officers serving in the navy and the air force, were less frequently appointed as governors. See Tables 7 and 8.

28. For details on this case see, Fikri ‘Abd al-Salam, “al-Na’ib al-‘Amm Yuhil al-Balagh didd al-Jamal wa-Mansur wa-l-Maghribi wa-Akharin li-l-Amwal al-‘Amma” [“The Attorney General Turns the Case against Gamal, Mansur, Maghribi, and Others for Public Funds”], Al-Ahram, March 29, 2011, http://digital.ahram.org.eg/articles.aspx?Serial=458823&eid=946.

29. For details on this case see, Daliya ‘Uthman, “Habas Samir Faraj 15 Yawman ‘ala Dhimmat Qadiyyat Bay‘ ‘al-Hammam al-Olimbi’” [“Samir Farag Jailed 15 Days for Involvement in the Case of the Sale of the ‘Olympic Bath’”], Al-Masry Al-Youm, April 21, 2011, http://www.almasryalyoum.com/node/408823.

30. The long list of properties belonging to Major General ‘Abd al-Galil al-Fakhrani, former governor of Isma‘iliyya, includes several ranches, villas, plots of lands, chalets, as a well as a palace in New Cairo’s Fifth Settlement (al-Tagammu‘ al-Khamis), the burgeoning suburb exclusively inhabited by the Cairene elite. See the communiqué by Lawyers Against Corruption, an Egyptian NGO, published in Wala’ Wahid, “‘Muhamun Didd al-Fasad’ Tutalib bi-l-Tahqiq ma‘ al-Fakhrani” [“‘Lawyers Against Corruption’ Demands Investigating Fakhrani”], al-Wafd, April 24, 2011, http://www.alwafd.org/%D8%A7%D9%82%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%AF/37673.

31. The references for Table 2 are the same used for Table 1, see Appendix 1.

32. See the detailed study, ‘Abd al-Rahman Kamal, “Bi-l-Asma’ wa-l-Manasib: Kharitat Jiniralat Hukm al-‘Askar li-Misr” [“In Names and Positions: A Map of Egypt’s Ruling Military Elite”], al-Sha‘b, August 2, 2012, http://elshaab.org/thread.php?ID=31222.

33. Sayigh, Above the State, p. 14.

34. A detailed expose can be found in, Muhammad Rabi‘, “Katibat I‘dam al-Naql al-Bahri al-Misri” [“The Egyptian Naval Transport’s Destruction Corps”], Masrawy, July 22, 2012, http://www.masrawy.com/ketabat/ArticlesDetails.aspx?AID=173139.

35. Yawm al-Wafa’ bi-Mina’ al-Iskandariyya” [“Inundation Day at the Alexandria Port”], International Review, August–September 2009, http://inter-review.com/magazine-show-455-ar.html.

36. Sayigh, Above The State, p. 17.

37. ‘Abd al-Khaliq Khalifa, “al-Muhandis Ibrahim Manna‘ Wazir al-Tayran al-Madani fi Hiwar ma‘ al-Wafd” [“Civilian Aviation Minister Ibrahim Manna‘ in an Interview with al-Wafd”], al-Wafd, April 5, 2011, http://www.alwafd.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30822.

38. Manar Salim, “Muwazzifu Hay’at al-Athar: Hadhih Matalibuna li-l-Wazir al-Jadid” [“Antiquities Authority Employees: These Are Our Demands for the New Minister”], al-Wafd, March 23, 2011, http://www.alwafd.org/ﺪﻳﺪﺠﻟﺍ-ﺮﻳﺯﻮﻠﻟ-ﺎﻨﺒﻟﺎﻄﻣ-ﻩﺬﻫ-ﺭﺎﺛﻵﺍ-ﺔﺌﻴﻫ-ﻮﻔﻇﻮﻣ-26590-ﺔﻴﻠﺤﻣ-10/ﺮﻳﺭﺎﻘﺗﻭ-ﺭﺎﺒﺧﺃ.

39. Kamal, “In Names and Positions.”

40. Nadine Marroushi, “US Expert: Leadership of ‘Military Inc.’ Is Running Egypt,” Egypt Independent, October 26, 2011, http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/us-expert-leadership-military-inc-running-egypt.

41. Interview by author with Zeinab Abul-Magd, June 18, 2012, Cairo. Note that the foundations of the Arab Industrial Organization (AIO) and the National Service Projects Organization (NSPO) were laid under Sadat, in 1975 and 1979, respectively. Initially, the aim of the AIO was to build an Arab military industry, and it became quickly invested in rocket, missile and military vehicles production. Progressively, however, the AOI’s activities came to include manufacturing nonmilitary products such as railway and metro accessories, in addition to plastic and fiberglass artifacts. The NSPO also casts its net wide. It activities include food management, textile and electronics factories, petrol stations, and armed forces cinemas, halls, and hotels.

42. Major General (ret.) Muhammad al-Kashif, former vice president of the Egyptian anti-drug agency, revealed in an interview that some officers occupying postretirement civilian positions gain $83,000 monthly in salaries. See, Hanum al-Finshani, “al-Kashif: Mukalimat Talifun Tahmi Tujjar al-Mukhaddirat” [“al-Kashif: A Phone Conversation Protects Drug Dealers”], al-Wafd, April 1, 2011, http://www.alwafd.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=29638. A recent study by Muhammad Sa‘d Khattab shows the extent to which the top brass became opulent. Khattab maintains that the personal fortune of Major General Sayyid Mish‘al, former minister of military production, exceeded LE 2 billion ($333 million). See, Muhammad Ghayth, “Limadha La Tuhakimu Hitler Tantawi wa-Dubbat al-Raqaba al-Idariyya al-Fasidin Fawran?!” [“Why Are You Not Trying Hitler Tantawi and the Corrupt Officers of Administrative Monitoring Immediately?!”], Sudanese Online (blog), June 22, 2011, http://www.sudaneseonline.com/arabic/permalink/5408.html.

43. ‘Abd al-Khaliq Faruq, ‘Aridat Ittiham didd al-Ra’is [A Petition of Indictment against the President], (Cairo: Nile Center for Economic and Strategic Studies. 2012), p. 37.

44. Interview with ‘Abd al-Khaliq Faruq by author, July 5, 2012, Cairo.

45. Interview with anonymous Egyptian rear admiral (ret.) by author, June 13, 2012, Cairo.

46. Interview with anonymous Egyptian general (ret.) by author, June 16, 2012, Cairo. For more on Mubarak’s and the Egyptian military elite’s history of involvement in commissions and overcharges related to the arms trade see Joseph Trento, Prelude to Terror, The Rogue CIA and the Legacy of America’s Private Intelligence Network (New York: Carroll & Graff Publishers, 2005), p. 249.

47. See, Security and Exchanges Commission v. United Industrial Corporation, 60005 (SEC 2009), http://www.sec.gov/litigation/admin/2009/34-60005.pdf. al-Masry al-Youm on 02/15/2012. Note that Egyptian generals do not only make commissions money as importers, but also as exporters of weapons. The Egyptian arms industry produces every year the equivalent of LE 4 billion ($666 million) of light and medium weaponry. Half of these products are sold to organizations engaged in civil wars enfolding in emergent countries, especially in Africa. The payments are then distributed among small coterie of senior officers, including those involved in negotiating the deals. See ‘Abd al-Khaliq Faruq, Iqtisadiyyat al-Fasad fi Misr: Kayf Jara Ifsad Misr wa-l-Misriyyin (1974–2010) [The Economy of Corruption in Egypt: How It Undermined Egypt and Egyptians (1974–2010)], (Cairo: Shorouk International Bookshop, 2011), p. 53.

48. Abdel-Malek, Egypt.

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Egypt -- Politics and government -- 1981-
  • Egypt. -- Qūwāt al-Musallaḥah.
  • Mubārak, Muḥammad Ḥusnī, -- 1928-
  • Egypt. -- Qūwāt al-Musallaḥah.
  • Mubārak, Muḥammad Ḥusnī, -- 1928-
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