Who Rules Egypt after 30 June?

Wael Gamal , Wednesday 13 Nov 2013

Alliances and interest groups that rule Egypt did not change much after 30 June

After Mubarak's overthrow in February 2011, many imagined and others wanted us to believe that his regime was overthrown. However, developments that followed have proven otherwise and it became clear that to achieve this there is still a long path to go.

Some tell us now that those who rule Egypt after 30th of June are a "revolutionary" breakaway from a year of Morsi's rule, what preceded it and Mubarak's regime. But, who rules Egypt now indeed?

The question doesn't mean that it is a choice between the interim President Adly Mansour or the Prime Minister, whom we were told that he will hold most of the executive powers, or the Defence Minister, who it seems that he is holding all the threads.

The question should transcend persons to focus on alliances & interest groups that are represented by persons.For these alliances, which aren't sometimes publically announced or in the form of political parties, are the ones that designate ways of ruling, its chances and probabilities of survival.

Perhaps understanding it offer an interpretation to what seems enigmatic in some cases of developments that are apparently illogical or contradict promises or expectations from circles of supporters in the streets. If you want to know who rules, you have to look in the interests that have the top priority & precedence.

Mubarak's alliances and beyond

Mubarak's status, and maybe his family also, was pivotal in ruling Egypt, but he didn't rule Egypt solely. Mubarak's rule was an expression of the predominance of an alliance between the security, the bureaucratic apparatuses & the ruling party. Afterwards a new partner entered in the form of an interest group representing a special kind of capitalism emerging in the frame of supporting his son succession.

This group of interest imposed its existence & influence on the ground and presented itself as an alternative to the failure of the State's bureaucratic apparatus and its inability to buy allegiances through employment in its apparatus and other tools as a twin brother to repression & torture.

This alliance was an organic alliance in ruling which didn't permit what some attempt to promote now about independent agendas to this wing or that in a way that transcends in principle the basic interests prevailing within it.

The January revolution broke out and overthrew the plan of inheriting the country's rule, Mubarak, his ruling party & the symbols of bureaucratic governance. Although The January Revolution dealt a painful blow to Mubarak's pillars of governance that confused it and compelled it to retreat but it didn't remove it. Thus, we ended with a year and a half of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces' (SCAF) rule which made an alliance with the State's bureaucracy apparatus (this was evident in the insistence on calling Kamal El-Ganzoury to be a prime minister out of retirement to reassure this corrupt & corrupting apparatus naturally) and with the supreme command of the rulers of sustenance, which is a group of businessmen who controls the economy.

Don't be fooled by the famous ones of this group, for it is a wider and a deeper group that its main centres of influence are based on monopolies that cover almost everything on top of which wheat & petroleum. The general public are ignorant of much of its activities.

Since the first days of the Revolution, the factions of rule began negotiations with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) with the purpose of forging a new alliance that the MB becomes its elected façade. After push & pull, the presidential elections settled this matter in favour of Morsi at the expense of the direct candidate of the old interests.

At this point, new negotiations commenced. After conducting changes in faces, the agreement seemed obvious: in return to MB's political control, some areas in foreign policy, some partnerships in the economy & certain representations in the State's apparatus, the economic & political interests of the Armed Forces were to be secured and an economic programme Mubarak & his son didn't dream of reaching in liberalization of the economy will be adopted.

We shouldn't forget here that the SCAF didn't mind the return of the old police apparatus without reform to the formula of governance at the hands of Morsi and the MB, after the strong blow it suffered from the Revolution, because of the heightened rivalry that was prominent in the last years in Mubarak's rule.

But after few months of Morsi's rule made it apparent to the old-new factions that their future isn't secure; for the kettle began to boil once again with social, political & popular protests; all that didn't portend well.

So, those factions started to review their alliance fearing that the street may outrun them. The street has outrun them indeed but they were ready for it. The security apparatus, with its dual wings, come to the façade once again over the ruins of Morsi's mistakes & treason to the revolution, which made the street bitter and allowed the old factions to re-represent itself in a new attire.

It is true that at the beginning, the political ruling façade foretold the advance of a new ally from the liberal reformists at least, but the developments have proven that it wasn't a full partner in ruling because of lacking a social base which gives it negotiation support in the face of its other allies. It began to gradually lose ground until it seems there will be no need for it in the near future.

Look for bills of interest

The economy is the aspect that most reveals the absence of revolutionary breakaway with what preceded the January revolution. In the course of 3 years nothing was achieved in this respect even a reformist measure, not to mention a revolutionary one, whether in the field of redistributing income and wealth, combating monopolies, minimizing private and public corruption, or even increasing the expenditure on health and education.

The supreme command of rulers of sustenance stood in the face of any fair taxes that may strike some little balance in the state's budget. Any idea about reforming the State's bureaucratic apparatus was absent. On the contrary, the government of30 June returned to historical corruption namely; allocating by direct decree of public lands etc. and even abolishing the breaches of law retroactively.

The reformist faction in the government succeeded in passing the increase in governmental investment and announced an adoption of expansionary fiscal year. Meanwhile, other voices seemed to work in an opposite direction, even issuing formal papers on the discussions that contradict the government's new approach.

In addition to this, involvement in battles aimed at strangulating and abrogating projects that run counter to the continuity of the old free market and its vested interests. (One of the drafts of the Committee of the Fifty in the Economy section retains the same clause regarding the free economy of the suspended constitution in the new one).

Internal & external borrowing policies have escalated; such policies that didn't stop during the rule of SCAF and Morsi with the aim of financing limited economic measures. This is a continuation of Mubarak policies in buying political loyalties. The only difference lies in changing the financers from Qatar and Turkey to United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait instead.

At the same time, the role of the World Bank & IMF is sustained without transparency or disclosure. We can't forget this incessant effort (through all ages) to curtail workers' and social strikes and sit-ins within a widened package to restrain demonstration in general to halt the street movements.

On another level, the budget of the Armed Forces is still not transparent as before and still its economic activity isn't under democratic monitoring. These matters are far away from public debate for the logic of "We won't give away the toil of the army, we won't allow the state to interfere in this regards" to triumph, a logic we heard during the SCAF's rule. The expenditure on the Ministry of the Interior, the pensions of retired armed forces personnel increased.

Newspapers mentioned the construction of new prisons costing billions of pounds at a time of budget deficit. As always, the Stock Exchange, the jewel of the crown of Mubarak regime's interests, expressed its joy with these developments, ignoring all street confrontations and the curfew for its index reached levels of pre-January Revolution.

In his prophetic book "The Strong Regime & the Weak State" (which was published in 2006 and its third edition was published recently), the political economist Samer Soliman discusses the crisis of governing Egypt, represented in the failure in forging a governing social alliance which is successful, efficient & stable with a developmental success.

Samer describes  that alliance, which is unstable, non-developmental, inefficient and despotic established on unproductive resources (based on external and internal borrowing and the royalties of the Suez Canal, etc.) in order to finance tyranny and bribing bureaucratic sectors with subsidies and employment in government offices (the patronage state).

Samer gave us his verdict which imposed itself after five years and is still with us, if only it changed its attire:"With the decline of the rentier state and the erosion of the patronage state, the Egyptian political regime loses one of its most important tools of control.

Undoubtedly, Egypt is entering a new stage in its economic & political history". The new ruling alliance is unable to get rid of this way of ruling except after a real battle between its different factions which doesn't seem possible or probable. So, it is drawing its inevitable fate through narrow mindedness, inflexibility and the greediness of the interests that characterize it.

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