This paper closely studies the 18 days of the revolution in Egypt as well as the post-revolutionary transition and examines the role of the army in this period. A central question the paper attempts to answer is how to explain the apparent paradox about how the Egyptian military lent pivotal support to the protestors during the revolution itself, but now, in its administrative role during the transitional period, seems so reluctant if not actively resistant to allowing actual democratic change, to the extent of using excessive repressive measures. I argue that a set of complex and contradictory economic, social, historical/cultural and international geopolitical factors pressured the army to take the stance of siding with the revolution at the time of the revolt. I suggest that the army leaders sided with the revolution only to establish a form of democracy that retains the interests and the economic empire of the army. I then analyze different explanations for the excessive repressive measurements the army leaders have taken against peaceful protests and calls for more comprehensive democratic reform. And I argue that all these explanations are valid, but should be understood in the larger problem of the revolution's challenge to the military rule in Egypt that has been in place since 1952. The paper is based on: (1) an ethnographic work conducted in Cairo from February 4, 2011 to April 15, 2011; (2) 60 interviews with Egyptian activists, 50 of them randomly selected from different groups during the revolution, made in person, and 10 selected interviews with activists during the transitional period, the latter conducted by phone; and (3) archival work, especially on op-eds written by Egyptian intellectuals before and after the revolution in Egyptian newspapers. The paper contributes to literature on the sociology of revolutions and post-revolutionary transition.


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pp. 397-434
Launched on MUSE
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