WikiLeaks logo
The Global Intelligence Files,
files released so far...

The Global Intelligence Files

The Global Intelligence Files

On Monday February 27th, 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files, over five million e-mails from the Texas headquartered "global intelligence" company Stratfor. The e-mails date between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal's Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defence Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor's web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods.

Re: FOR COMMENT - Conclusion to Egypt monograph - Contemporary Challenges: Life After Mubarak

Released on 2012-02-27 00:00 GMT

Email-ID 309308
Date 2011-12-13 17:02:27
Hola Reva,
Can we go ahead and edit the for comment version of the monograph? Thanks!


From: "Reva Bhalla"
To: "Analyst List"
Sent: Monday, December 12, 2011 4:22:40 PM
Subject: FOR COMMENT - Conclusion to Egypt monograph -
Contemporary Challenges: Life After Mubarak

Contemporary Challenges: Life After Mubarak

Early 2011 was a dramatic period in modern Egyptian history. The
mainstream mediaa**s narrative on the Arab Spring portrayed popular
uprisings as the driving force that swept away the regime of Hosni Mubarak
and opened the door to democracy. But a closer examination indicates that
the rules of the past still apply. Concentration of power, physical
isolation from the outside world, and dependence upon outside forces for
economic security remain the trifecta that drives Egyptian society and
governmental development.

To understand the Arab Spring one must first understand the factors that
led to it. This is a discussion that must begin, not with the aspirations
of those that protested in Tahrir square, but with the strategic
imperatives of the military, the true vanguard of the Egyptian state.

Nassera**s plan to elevate the military as the vanguard of society worked,
but in years after Nassera**s death the military itself shifted position.
Rather than partnering with the Soviets to create a regional sphere of
influence, the military evolved its vanguard position in Egyptian society
into a system of ossified control. The state still owned nearly everything
of worth, but it was managed by and for the benefit of the military brass.
Everything from banks to import/export to agriculture -- already heavily
influenced by the military under the vanguard system -- was consolidated
into a series of military oligarchies. Rather than working to elevate
Egypt economically, the military oligarchs mostly divvied up the local
spoils and lived large.

This was a stable system from the late-1970s until the mid-2000s.
Egypta**s shielded geography limited the ability of any international
economic interest to challenge the military staffsa** personal fiefdoms.
Egypta**s partnership with the Americans mitigated international pressure
of all sorts, and in many ways even Egypta**s ostracism from the Arab
world due to its treaty with Israel allowed Egypta**s generals to rule
Egypt however they saw fit.

As (now deposed) President Mubarak aged, however, an internal challenge
arose to the military oligarchy in the form of the former presidenta**s
son, Gamal Mubarak, who wanted to transform Egypt from a military
oligarchy into a more traditional Egyptian dynasty. Doing this required
the breaking of the militarya**s hold on the economy. Gamal and his allies
-- often with the express assistance of international institutions like
the World Bank -- worked to a**privatizea** Egyptian state assets to
themselves. This process was a direct threat to the militarya**s political
and economic position at the top of Egyptian society. The military also
viewed Gamal, who never completed his military service, as a political
neophyte, incapable of understanding and managing the countrya**s security

The result was the a**Arab Springa**. In the months leading up to the
January demonstrations, Egypta**s top generals were delivering very stern
ultimatums to the president to abandon any hope of passing the reins to
Gamal while looking at their options to unseat Mubarak via more
unconventional means. The military strategically positioned itself early
on in the demonstration as the honest broker and guardian of the
protesters, taking care to avoid a violent crackdown on the demonstrators
while Mubaraka**s internal security forces were vilified on the streets.
Such a light hand was not due to lack of capacity, but due to lack of
need. The demonstrations provided the generals with the means to dismantle
the Mubarak legacy, the biggest liability to their own livelihood, while
maintaining the paramount role of the military.

But perhaps the most central indication that the a**revolutiona** was
misconstrued comes from the participation levels. On the day that Mubarak
ultimately stepped down the protests reached their peak. By the most
aggressive estimate only 750,000 people -- less than 1 percent of the
population of densely populated Egypt a** took to the streets. In true
revolutions such as that which overthrew Communism in Central Europe or
the shah in Iran, the proportion regularly breached 10 percent and on
occasions even touched 50 percent. In short, Egypta**s Arab Spring was a
palace coup, not a revolution.

But the militarya**s Mubarak removal strategy did not come without risks.
The military would much prefer to return to the days of ruling behind the
scenes while leaving day to day governing to a civilian government that
ultimately answers to the generals. But the political opening that the
military helped to create has also greatly complicated matters: the
military must now employ a much more complex balancing act at home to
altogether keep the civilian government impotent, the opposition divided
and foreign funding flowing toward a half-hearted democratic transition.

With trade and tourism severely curtailed as a result of Egypta**s
political unrest, the military must place extra effort in keeping up
democratic appearances with the west now that the country is once against
dependent upon the economic largess of outside powers. In dealing with the
opposition at home, the military is no stranger to divide-and-conquer
tactics and has maintained a robust intelligence service to keep tabs on
already severely divided opposition. But the signs of strain are already
showing, as the military now needs to learn how to manage an
Islamist-concentrated opposition in parliament as opposed to its usual
practice of making mass arrests and breaking up sporadic demonstrations.
The rewriting of Egypta**s constitution a** a process that the military
intends to fully control a** is likely to be one of several major
disappointments that the opposition is likely to contend with in the
months ahead, adding more friction to the already delicate arrangements
the military has been seeking out with key opposition factions in trying
to remove this fight from the streets.

The more attention the Egyptian military must devote to internal matters,
the more its problems will grow in the immediate neighborhood. A
US-Arab-Turkish consensus on the need to contain Iran has Syria to the
north in the regional spotlight, where a domestic political crisis is fast
evolving into a regional proxy battle. Meanwhile, Islamist Palestinian
movement Hamas is preparing itself for change to come out of Damascus
(where its politbureau is currently headquartered,) while trying to
leverage the political evolution that is already well under way in Egypt.
The political legitimacy being granted to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
via this political transition has provided Hamas, an outgrowth of the MB,
with an opportunity to rebrand itself as a mainstream political operator,
one that is just as capable as the Egyptian MB to break out of political
isolation in Gaza.

But Hamas will have to do more than a public relations campaign to break
out of isolation. The Egyptian military, which shares Israela**s interest
in keeping Hamas contained and the Sinai buffer clear of foreign threats,
remains the biggest obstacle to Hamasa** strategic objective of dominating
the Palestinian political scene without Egyptian and Israeli shackles.
Hamas would like to see a political evolution in Egypt that results in an
Egyptian Islamist government friendly to Hamas and hostile to Israeli
interests. This is an ambitious agenda, but is one likely worth working
toward from the point of view of the Hamas leadership. The best chance
that Hamas has in accelerating this evolution is by creating a crisis of
legitimacy for the Egyptian military by drawing the military into a
conflict with Israel. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, and
there is no shortage of militant proxies that have benefited from the
Egyptian militarya**s political distractions to expand their area of
operations in the Sinai. Israel is already frustrated by the Egyptian
militarya**s slackened control over the Sinai and tends to revert to a
more preemptive regional posture when neighborhood threats cross a certain
line. Add to this the potential for Iran and Syria to exercise their
militant proxy options to take the attention off regime change campaigns
in Damascus, and Egypt could find itself in the midst of a Sinai crisis
with Israel that both sides have spent the past 33 years desperately
trying to avoid.

This is not an evolution that will take place overnight. After all, Israel
and Egypt went to war in 1973 to create the very peace that they are
trying to preserve. This peace treaty is the foundation of external
security for both sides of the Sinai peninsula and it will take a lot of
organization and effort to break it apart, but the coming years will also
put place the Arab-Israeli balance of power, as defined by peace between
Egypt and Israel, under an unprecedented level of strain.

Maverick Fisher
Director, Writers and Graphics
221 W. 6th Street, Suite 400
Austin, TX 78701
T: +1 512 744 4322 | F: +1 512 744 4334