The risks of politicizing Egypt’s state entities

Dragging Egyptian State entities into our internal political disputes will put their status, heretofore perceived as relatively independent, at risk. The State’s tendency to act as the government’s backbone could result in the downfall of both. Culturally, Egyptians have always believed that their greatest challenge is to get rid of whoever is on the tip of a pyramid. This understanding appears to be changing; Egyptians currently profess equal allegiance to the State and the government.

In theory, Egyptian State entities, i.e. the Judiciary and the Security Apparatus, should function completely independently and at a distance from government policies that change according to the results of presidential elections. Of course, this theoretical scenario has never been applied in the political history of Egypt that is ruled by the combination of State and government. However, while this kind of bias was discreet in the past, today it is undertaken explicitly, boldly and with delight.

President Al Sisi often argues that Egypt needs to establish a strong State. However, there is a clear difference between strengthening the role of the State (which Egypt is in desperate need of) and enabling the State to completely manipulate Egypt’s political and economic spheres, which, along with disenabling any kind of opposing opinion, is the present reality. Nevertheless, the political and economic propositions that the State often comes up with are providing endless issues for Egyptians to quarrel about.

Some argue that Egyptian State entities are complying with the laws that clearly outline their respective roles. This argument may be technically correct in some incidents; still, it is widely known in Egypt that most of our laws are crafted to contain ambiguous interpretations designed primarily to serve the State’s desire to fulfill its various needs. This phenomenon of political rule is not new to Egypt; what is new is that the Egyptian State has lost the talent of designing and applying its intentions persuasively and intelligently.

Furthermore, the State, previously, was not as eager to win every single battle as it is in the present era; it used to give a room to its opponents to express their frustration peacefully, while drawing a red line that the opposition was not allowed to cross. Nowadays, the bar is being lowered, working not only to pressurize many citizens who oppose the state, but inciting them to build up their anger, creating the possibility that they could eventually resort to violence to challenge the State itself.

Over the past few years, Egyptians managed to oust two elected presidents. State entities were relatively untouched, having skillfully managed to immune themselves from most previous uprisings by placing both presidents as the main targets of the protestors’ anger. The current full engagement of State entities, however, has transformed the State’s “independent” role into a very proactive one.

The strength and cleverness of State entities’ policies of engagement with citizens are diminishing, while the magnitude of civilian opposition is expanding. President Al Sisi is doing his utmost to stabilize Egyptian State entities. However, placing these entities on the frontline makes them more volatile in case of any political change. Unlike previous events, if we go through a third wave of uprisings; protestors are likely to challenge Egyptian State entities as well as the President.

Will Egypt experience a third round of uprisings? Our current policies (portrayed in the manner in which the State is managing the 2018 presidential elections) reply to this question by stressing the fact that something will happen – leaving us to be surprised by the ‘how and when’. The current ruling regime’s policy is steadfastly driving the entire nation toward many unpleasant scenarios, yet no one knows how the situation will eventually unfold or what the outcomes for our nation will be.

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