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Egypt

The events that preceded and followed the downfall of then octogenarian Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 are tackled by Robert Springborg in the pithily book titled Egypt. The steady decline in Egypt’s fortunes is unpacked in six chapters, while the causes for the continued staying power of the army is of especial importance.

 

The events that preceded and followed the downfall of then octogenarian Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 are tackled by Robert Springborg in the pithily book titled Egypt. The steady decline in Egypt’s fortunes is unpacked in six chapters, while the causes for the continued staying power of the army is of especial importance. In the preface and chapter one, Springborg interweaves the historical record of Egypt’s unity as a state and nation from antiquity (pp. xiii, 9-10) with topical questions about the “coup-volution” of 2011 (pp. 5-30). The failure of the popular uprising to translate into a democratic transition in Egypt is attributed to seven factors, including the country’s population being “too rural” (p. 14) and the “shrinking demographic enclave” of the greatly vaunted middle class (p. 15). Existing problems, namely the longstanding squandering of Egypt’s heritage by the military, were compounded by the coup-volution. Chapter two widens the analysis to the nature of the deep state. Gamal Abdel Nasser is credited with establishing the deep state as a limited access order that initiated a process of continuous decline (p. 33). The state, mired in a “socio-fiscal trap,” began to be tasked to do more with dwindling revenues (pp. 44-45, 161). Three legs of the deep state are identified: the military, the presidency and intelligence services (p. 48). Frequent comparisons are made in chapter three between Mubarak, Anwar Sadat and Nasser on the one hand, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on the other hand, about the preservation of their hold on power through coup-proofing (pp. 48-51). Chapter three is a foray into the “superstructural” institutions of the state controlled through the deep state’s despotic power. A duopoly of sorts exists in the executive pitting of military officers against intelligence agents, thus ensuring that no single group is supreme over any other (pp. 74-75). An overstaffed judiciary, swinging from less to mor

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