Historical the role of the military in the Arab countries was determined by the specifics of economic and socio-political development. In conditions of economic multistructure and incompleteness of social structures, the army was often the only force capable of organizing a national liberation movement and then heading a young state. The real power in the localities was most often concentrated in the hands of army commanders who decided not only the military, but also the most important social and state issues. The participation of the military in all significant events (field work, forest planting campaigns, the creation of a network of secondary schools, public construction projects, etc.) has become a tradition. And from the first days of independence, the army in many Arab countries already had significant influence in the leadership, being the only supplier of personnel for the state administrative apparatus.
In countries where, as a result of the national liberation struggle or subsequent military coups, the army came to power, officers quickly became an important element of the new elite, controlling not only the state, but also the party and economic apparatus. Former officers occupied key political and administrative posts, and the army itself became the tool with which representatives of the new strata of Arab society, who became carriers of nationalistic moods of various kinds, reached the top of power. Later, this led to its role in the political system of Arab countries, which was enshrined in many constitutions, which placed on the army the obligation to participate in the development of the country and the building of socialism (Algerian Constitution 1976), in protecting national interests, cultural and constitutional order (Sudanese Constitution 1998 of the year), guard the socialist gains of the people (Egyptian Constitution 1971 of the year). The Syrian Basic Law 1973 of the year says: "The armed forces are responsible for defending the goals of the revolution - unity, freedom, socialism."
However, the coming to power of the military was far from unambiguous. In some countries, the armed forces initiated large-scale socio-economic reforms, in others the military government suppressed the initiative of any changes and interrupted the peaceful development of social and political life. There were other models of intervention, which in practice led to new military coups. As a result, there were quick and controversial changes in domestic policy. An example is the political process in Syria, where the nature of the ruling bloc and the forms of its political power changed after independence seven times.
But the constitutional consolidation of the role of the army in public life allowed it to take root ever deeper into civilian life and influence the political system. This influence explains, in particular, the existence of specific agencies of the high command of the army, which carried out state functions, at certain intervals.
The intervention of the army in politics has historically been very diverse in its social and ideological orientation, which was determined by the specific historical conditions of a given country, the scale of social contradictions and the distribution of internal political forces. In some cases, the army took power because of a lack of real social and political power in society, in others because of the insufficient capacity of existing ruling groups for social leadership during a period of serious aggravation of internal contradictions. Sometimes the army became the head of state, being the heir to the traditions of the struggle for liberation and the successor of the participants in national liberation revolutions. However, as the process of historical development has shown, most of the military regimes established as a result of the state coups and the coming to power of the army were characterized by a common dominant feature - they were based on the ideology of national security. This doctrine was a military-political guarantee that the state had to provide to achieve and protect national goals, despite the antagonisms and contradictions that arose. The task of determining the extent of the threat to national security according to this doctrine was assigned directly to the army. This was facilitated by another popular idea - the civilian mission of the armed forces. It was believed that they were designed to correct the mistakes of politicians in accordance with the concept of national security.
It is important to note that in parallel with the functions of restoring internal order (often carried out by repressive methods), the army also made a great contribution to social and economic development. She paid attention to the problems of eradicating illiteracy, providing medical care, building roads, various infrastructure facilities, etc. The concept of a civilian mission helped to secure the military’s role as a guarantor of internal security and order, to a certain extent, the guarantor of the Constitution itself, and implied widespread involvement segments of the population.
Over time, the army also became a serious economic force. She owned land and other large real estate, controlled enterprises of the military-industrial complex and the banking sector, collaborated with private businesses in various sectors of the economy. According to various sources, in the hands of the Egyptian military is concentrated from a quarter to a third of the country's GDP.
In the 2011 events of the year in Tunisia and Egypt, the armed forces played the role of arbiter between the conflicting parties. At the same time, it was repeatedly emphasized that the army fulfills the will of the people, since the people and the army are one hand. In Tunisia, the military quickly ensured the transfer of power to a civilian government. In Egypt, after the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) also took control of the political process, managing to keep society from complete anarchy and organizing parliamentary and presidential elections, followed by a referendum on the adoption of the new Constitution.
After the victory of the general election of the president from the Islamists Mohammed Mursi, it seemed that the army had gone into the shadows, passing the reins of government to the victorious party. However, the year in power Mursi clearly demonstrated that civilians are not able to solve acute social and economic problems that have become a detonator of protest speeches, and the actions of the president himself only deepened the split of society, prompting a new wave of protest speeches. The military again came to the political arena, having supported the will of the people for the second time, actually carried out a coup d'état and displaced Mursi in 2013 in July.
Will the new Nasser appear?
The next transitional period of the Egyptian society is controlled by an extra-constitutional body - the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. He is already called the new Nasser in view of the rapidly increasing popularity. The new political leader combines the posts of the Minister of Defense and the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces; it is with him that most Egyptians are now pinning their hopes on the establishment of stability and tranquility.
Unlike the first transitional period after the overthrow of Mubarak and taught by his bitter lessons, the military decided to first adopt the Constitution (thus defining the boundaries of the political field), then hold presidential elections, and only then - parliamentary elections. Previously by a judicial decision, the Muslim Brotherhood organization was excluded from the political process, its publications and information channels were closed, and all the speeches that began in support of Mursi were quickly and effectively suppressed. The November law of 2013 also banned demonstrations.
It is interesting in this regard to note that the United States, vigorously demonstrating its attitude to the "military coup in Egypt" by suspending military aid, is considering a draft decision prepared by the congress on defrosting financial assistance in connection with the obvious democratic changes in the country. However, Egypt has already managed to sign military contracts with Russia during the visit of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to Cairo in November 2013.
14 – 15 January this year, a referendum was held in the country, which approved the new Basic Law. With a turnout of 55 percent and a boycott by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, 95 percent of registered voters voted for him. The Constitution enshrines a new balance of political forces in the country, that is, the victory of the military over the Islamists, and defined the political, legal and ideological framework for further development.
Unlike the “Islamist” Constitution adopted by Mursi, who “returned the army to the barracks”, the new document devotes a whole section to the army and not only expands its powers, but also makes the military department an autonomous institution, providing an opportunity to influence the internal political situation. The army will now have its own budget, uncontrolled by civil authorities. In accordance with Article 204, military justice is established, administering proceedings exclusively for offenses relating to the armed forces. However, this article suggests that civilians may also be prosecuted if their actions pose a direct threat to "military institutions and their activities, military or border areas, their equipment, arms, ammunition, documentation containing military secrets, military funds, as well as personnel of the armed forces in the performance of their duties. ” It is important to emphasize that military justice may also consider crimes of a corrupt nature. It is obvious that in this form the article can have a very wide legal application in practice.
There is another article that seems extremely important due to the fact that this kind of situation first appears not only in the Basic Law of Egypt, but also in the constitutional law of other Arab countries. We are talking about the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, an unconstitutional structure, which, having carried out a military coup, for some time served as the legislative and executive branch. As you know, in the post-war history of the Arab world, such institutions periodically appeared in different countries and often held power for quite a long time. For example, in Egypt in 1952, in Iraq in 1958 and 1968, in Algeria in 1965, in Yemen in 1962, in Libya in 1969, etc. The practice of creating specific supreme organs command, performing state functions, has survived until recently. As a result of the military coup in Algeria in 1992, the Supreme State Council (HCV) appeared, which was vested with the power granted by the Basic Law to the President of Algeria, and which, due to the dissolution of the National People's Assembly (Parliament), temporarily received the right to issue decrees having the force of law. After the military coup in 1989 in Sudan, the Council of the Command of the Revolution and National Salvation (SKRES) was formed, which self-dissolved only in 1993 after the appointment of the president of the republic. Currently, in most constitutions of the Arab countries there are articles that establish the legal status of the armed forces, but none of them define the status of military institutions that periodically interfere in political life.
The new Egyptian Constitution proclaims that the armed forces have their own High Council, whose activities and powers will be governed by a special law. This means that the structure becomes a constitutional body and in accordance with the law, apparently, will receive certain powers related not only to the armed forces. The military theme is the National Defense and Security Councils, as well as the Ministry of Defense. In accordance with Article 234, the Minister of Defense may be appointed only with the approval of the AFLA during two presidential terms (eight years) from the moment the Constitution enters into force. That is, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is already taking a real part in domestic policy and state-building. Note that it is the Minister of Defense who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Egypt and is appointed from the officer corps. How exactly the role of the AFCR will be spelled out in the law is unclear, at least there are no analogues of such norms in the Arab world.
Whether the new Constitution will be able to solve all the political problems of the country that have accumulated lately and unite society, the future will show. In any case, for the near future, at least eight years, the idea of the legislator is clear - “the rifle gives rise to power”. Now the army will be completely legitimate in power, and constitutional norms in turn will create a legal basis for stabilizing the situation for which the military will be responsible. In this regard, the question of who will be the next president of Egypt, for many is already resolved.