An officer for each village: Sissi’s plan seen as a “militarizing society” |

CAIRO – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi treats the army as if it were the political party he hesitated to form, because only he is capable of supporting it in the face of internal crises.

Sisi needs influential support that backs his swift movements in different directions without getting involved in the political calculations that typically determine the actions of political parties, analysts say.

The Egyptian president has abandoned the political aesthetic and appointed an army officer in each village to contribute to the “Hayat Kareema” (Decent Life) project, which aims to develop 4,500 villages, in a plan qualified by political sources. Egyptian “de facto military regime”. . “

It seems that the interest in the process of training and education of different groups of the population did not bear fruit or achieve the desired results, even after the appointment of more members of the so-called “Coordination Committee”. youth of the Party ”as deputy governors and other administrative leaders. posts.

Sisi has found in the army the only institution capable of leading the development process that he has been trying to pursue since taking power. The armed forces have the requisite administrative discipline and trained cadres to monitor the progress of the “Decent Life” project beyond local bureaucrats. They also benefit from an impetus linked to the president’s military affiliation.

The Egyptian president has said more than once that he is not a follower of political discourse and that he only masters the working language, which is mastered by army cadres who keep their distance from affinities ideological and have no problem siding with it.

Egyptian political sources have expressed concern that the new experiment, when completed, could lead to a dead end due to the inability of officers to deal with the problems that have built up in Egyptian villages over the years. In addition, the appointment of local leaders from the ranks of the army is likely to generate criticism and create a military authority above the civilian authority, which currently carries out most of the development in the villages. The imposition of the new military structure could lead to the failure of both levels of authority.

George Ishaq, member of the Egyptian Council for Human Rights affiliated with the government, said that “the state’s fears of holding local elections delayed and of neglecting the appointment of administrative officials lead directly to the use of staff. military to control street movements in remote areas. . “

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi inaugurates a military agricultural project in the city of 10 Ramadan, northeast of Cairo, Egypt, on December 22, 2018 (REUTERS)

Speaking to The Arab Weekly, Ishaq added that addressing the failure of previous governments to build strong civilian institutions capable of advancing development projects “will not be resolved by appointing officers to oversee the implementation. implementation of projects, because the crisis will continue. ; and what citizens accept today, they can reject tomorrow.

With his military appointments, Sisi goes beyond what the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser did when he placed large numbers of army officers in high positions in the 1950s and 1960s.

Analysts say the armed forces are generally successful in protecting the country from external threats, but their active participation in the development process and involvement in the details of local fieldwork could overwhelm military officers.

The continuation of this plan could also trigger tensions between the officers and the villagers, who could oppose the methods of development of the army. This could ultimately lead to friction with the local military supervisor and undermine the perception of the military among the public.

The Egyptian president said during his inspection of village development equipment that he submitted a proposal to Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, the Urban Communities Authority and the army command to “appoint an officer in each village responsible for monitoring developments. and achievements within the Decent Life initiative.

His remarks sparked widespread controversy in political and human rights circles, which saw the decision as a clear security approach aimed at countering the continued influence of Islamist organizations in villages and hamlets, which for many years have remained beyond the control of government agencies.

The commander of the Egyptian army’s engineering authority, Major General Ihab el-Far, confirmed that there are currently more than 350 officers deployed in areas where the “decent life” initiative is being implemented. work and that the military has completed 20% of the entire project.

Hassan Salama, professor of political science at the National Center for Social and Criminal Research, told The Arab Weekly that Sisi’s approach “aims to control things in the villages from the bottom up so that development becomes systemic and non-random “.

The decision has raised fears that it overshadows the main tasks of the military. Some analysts have said that it is necessary first to make room for civilian cadres, as the appointment of a military officer in each village only confirms the propensity to “militarize Egyptian society”.

A number of decisions made by Sisi reflect his desire to follow developments in local areas and villages, analysts said. They are also motivated by his fear that financial allocations for development projects, which amount to $ 38 billion, could be abused by civil authorities.

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