"It might take a year or a little more but it won't be less, for sure; the officers are in terrible shape," said a senior official at the Ministry of Interior Tuesday evening.
Speaking to Ahram Online on condition of anonymity, this official, who is only two years away from retirement, said that he has "never seen more chaos around the ministry". "Officers go home and decline to come to work; they switch off their mobiles and do not take calls on their home landlines. Is this the Ministry of Interior?" he lamented.
This reluctance to work, he explained, is prompted by a sense of "great dissatisfaction within the ministry" as a result of a perceived "demotion of the status of police officers" who just until a few weeks ago perceived themselves as immune to questioning and are now being subject to all manner of blame, either for the bloodshed and chaos that occurred during the 25 January Revolution or for the continued fragility of public security.
According to this source, "Hundreds of police officers have already resigned; they just don’t want to be part of the ministry anymore."
Ahram Online spoke to the officer about two hours after the news of a fire in the Ministry of Interior became public; this senior officer did not seem surprised. He suggested that other signs of chaos "should be expected". "Do you think that those in prison do not have loyalists who would do sabotage upon their command?"
Since the end of the 25 January Revolution, for Minister of Interior Habib El-Adli and some of his senior state security and riot police aides have been held in prison on a wide range of charges.
Meanwhile, several sources of the ministry said, again on condition of anonymity, that there is a considerable dissatisfaction within ministry echelons, especially the higher ones, over the choice of the current minister. Some critics suggest that he is too old and unpopular. Others say that he retired over 10 years ago, which puts him out of touch with the new modalities of police work.
The consensus, however, is that the current minister, Mansour El-Eissawi, is faced with two major challenges: first, to bring back order to the ministry; second, to induce a sense of command amongst his aides. Should he fail to achieve both goals it is likely, according to ministry sources, that public security and ministry performance will remain low.