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Future of the Egyptian Army

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At WPR, I give some thought to how a shift in Egypt’s political orientation might matter for the region militarily:

What would an Egyptian army look like under a democratic regime? In the short term, the transformation would almost certainly be disruptive. The Iranian Revolution badly undermined the capabilities of the Iranian military during a time of acute vulnerability. Professional officers came under suspicion for their political allegiances, and many went into exile. Depending on the role played by the Egyptian army in such a revolution, its officers might also come under suspicion. This is especially true given the long period during which the army has served primarily to buttress the regime, rather than to defend its borders.

In the longer term, the Egyptian military would probably benefit from the democratization of the state. Promotion policies would presumably come to serve the national interest as defined by the government, rather than the political needs of the president. Military spending might suffer, but that might not be a problem, as the army is arguably too large for Egypt’s current national security needs.

Long story short, the imbalance between the Egyptian Army and the IDF is almost certainly much larger now than it was in 1973, and almost any revolutionary situation that we could envision would make the Army weaker in the short term.

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