Egypt: Return to a Generals’ Republic?

Content from the Brookings Doha Center is now archived. In September 2021, after 14 years of impactful partnership, Brookings and the Brookings Doha Center announced that they were ending their affiliation. The Brookings Doha Center is now the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, a separate public policy institution based in Qatar.

The last few weeks have seen violent scenes and several hundred deaths in Egypt following a crackdown on those protesting against the overthrow of democratically elected Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, by the powerful Egyptian military.

That ousting was itself triggered by widespread protests against Mr Morsi’s government, which had come to power following a period of military rule after Hosni Mubarak was forced out of office in 2011.

In this look back at the history and legacy of military rule in Egypt, Middle East expert Dr Omar Ashour argues that the challenges facing the country following the Arab Spring go back to the era of President Nasser and before.

“The coup leader – the hero Mohammed Naguib – gave an example of humility by refusing promotion to the rank of ‘lieutenant-general’…This proves that the army does not want power, just the general good,” wrote Egypt’s renowned historian, Abd al-Rahman al-Rafai, in al-Akhbar newspaper on 1 August 1952.

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