Order after Disorder

Order after Disorder

After the disorder of the Revolution and the ultimate fall of Hosni Mubarak, the military sought to rest ore order as quickly as possible. However, even though this was a reasonable decision to make in terms of national security, it was a mistake when it came to state institutions.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has been working diligently to restore order under a self-imposed six-month deadline, while tasking a committee with quickly patching up the constitution and electoral laws. Acknowledging this as an interim measure, the committee suggested that a new constitution should be drafted within a year, and be handled by the next president and parliament.

Despite its merits, this measure fails to acknowledge the people’s need for immediate justice. The greatest problem left behind after the fall of Mubarak and the removal of his family and cronies is the vast security apparatus that developed and evolved for the sole purpose of preserving the corrupt regime. State Security stored information on citizens, manipulated them, cajoled and threatened them, and humiliated, tortured and punished them, even though its role should have been confined to keeping tabs on possible terrorists and criminal networks.

Egypt has lived through bureaucratic oppression as ministries shuffled paper and red tape and insisted on bribes, while State Security exercised overt oppression keeping tabs on people. The notoriety of the police apparatus went beyond the issue of torture, racketeering, blackmailing and other schemes. State Security maintained an elaborate database on citizens, the threats they represented, their weaknesses, relationships and other every little detail of their lives and this information was used to manipulate citizens and do them injustice.

There was a chilling logic behind this apparatus and the vast bureaucracy existed simply to perpetuate itself and those in charge.

Counter-terrorism and other legitimate roles were minor roles played by the State Security as most of its resources were dedicated to keeping tabs on anyone who posed a threat to the regime and the real power brokers including high-level officials at the Ministry of Interior.

The Armed Forces have to deal with the immensity of this realization and adjust their ambitions for the interim period as it is no longer enough to have an adjustment period to a new, more democratic regime. It is necessary that there be a wider process of national reconciliation and acknowledgement of past crimes or else it is likely that Egypt will sink into a morass of endless accusations and recriminations.

At the same time, the Egyptian people will also have to think deeply about how justice will be attained. The amount of officials and businessmen who are alleged to have committed offenses or engaged in corruption is huge and if they are all to be brought to justice, the process will take decades. As the people are craving justice after years of oppression, something else must be done.