Egypt’s expanding military economy

Yezid Sayigh writes: On November 29, 2015, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi amended the powers of the Armed Forces Land Projects Agency, which was set up by presidential decree in 1981 to manage the sale of real estate no longer in use by the armed forces. The latest amendment now additionally empowers the agency to engage in commercial activity “to develop its resources, for which purpose it may form companies in all their guises, whether on its own or jointly with national and foreign capital.”

At first glance, Sisi’s Presidential Decree 446 of 2015 on military land and proceeds merely confirms and continues the expansionary trend of the Egyptian military’s involvement in the civilian economy since he took power in July 2013. Over the past two years, the Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) have taken on the management role for a number of mega-projects, including construction of a second Suez Canal and plans for over one million new housing units and a new administrative capital. This is part of a broad trend that, according to a study by Shana Marshall published by the Carnegie Middle East Center in April 2015, has made the EAF “the primary gatekeeper for the Egyptian economy” since 2013, if not earlier. [Continue reading…]

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