Militarization of the civil service
Over the past couple of weeks, the drive towards militarizing the Egyptian state organs seems unhindered.
Today’s officers, tomorrow’s bureaucrats
In July 2022, Sisi announced the creation of the Egyptian Military Academy, under which fell the Military, Naval, Air Force and Air Defense Colleges. In a move clearly aimed at facilitating future post-retirement placements in the civilian sector for retired officers, Sisi decreed that Military College graduates would also be granted a BA in political science, economics or statistics; Naval College graduates would receive BA in political science; Air Force College graduates would be awarded BA in business administration or BS in computer science; while Air Defense College graduates would be given a BS in Engineering.
On 25 July 2023, Sisi added two more degrees to the Military College graduates: BA in transportation and logistics management, and BS in computer science.
Besides arming the officers with credentials that would enable their second career after retirement, the Egyptian Military Academy and its affiliates have come out as primary tool for militarizing the state organs. Civil servants and new applicants for state jobs must now enroll for a six month “course” at the academy or its affiliates. In reality, it is a boot camp, where the applicants are dressed in military uniforms, undergo harsh physical training and are humiliated like army conscripts, in addition to receiving ideological indoctrination that revolves around conspiracy theories and the pseudo-science.
Preachers in uniform
Mosque imams and applicants for jobs at the Awqaf (Religious Endowments) Ministry are required to undergo this indoctrination boot camp at the Reserve Officers College, in Ismailia.
The imams are mostly a low-income group. They have voiced complaints that such boot camp is disastrous for their lives, since they have to leave their families without income for half a year and incur travel expenses to Ismailia. More bizarrely, soldierly standards are applied in the selection process, leading to almost half of the applicants getting rejected for being “physically unfit.”
“Too obese for teaching!”
The Ministry of Education was among the earliest targets of the civil service militarization program, as I posted previously, where the Egyptian Military Academy, sometimes in the presence of Sisi, filter out applicants for teaching jobs in the final stage of the process.
However, the selection process is not just ideological to ensure the teachers do not harbor any “anti-state conspiratorial thoughts.” The applicants have to go through a boot camp at the Military College for six months. Being overweight or pregnant will get you rejected!
Candidates for school director jobs are required to enroll in the same ideological indoctrination boot camp. Some photos of them, dressed in military uniforms, have surfaced online, at the Arab Organization for Industrialization.
Diplomats in uniform
There was an uproar on social media recently, when Samir Farag, a retired army general and former director of the Administration of Morale Affairs, posted a photo of himself together with a group of young diplomats in training. The latter were dressed in military fatigues, drawing online ridicule and criticism about the militarization of the service.
While the pictures are shocking and, as some social media users remarked, invoke North Korean vibes, this practice has already been in effect since six years ago. Historically, junior diplomats went for a one-month training course at the General Intelligence Service, before they joined the ministry. Starting from 2017, however, this was cancelled and replaced by a six-month boot camp at the Military College, where they are receive ideological indoctrination, harsh physical training and are systematically broken and humiliated as army conscripts at the hands of the officers. Female diplomats, for their part, are sent to the Armed Forces Technical Institute for Nursing.
The Ministry of Transportation is led by Lieutenant General Kamel al-Wazir, the former head of the Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces. He is one of Sisi’s confidants, entrusted with the transportation sector which receives the military’s lion share of interest with its lucrative contracts and deals.
Wazir has acquired a notorious reputation as ruthless official, with fiery statements, usually blaming the citizens and low-ranking civil servants for any catastrophes in the transport sector. More importantly, he is central to Sisi’s efforts to militarize this vital sector.
Applicants for jobs at the Transportation Ministry are now screened by the Military Academy.
Moreover, in an effort to militarize the blue-collar labor force in the railways, the Military Technological College has taken over the task of “training” and “rehabilitating” the technical workers in the sector. The first class of trainees graduated in August 2022, while the second graduated last week.
Policing the bureaucracy
As if the military is not enough, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) has joined the efforts of ideological indoctrination of the civil servants.
The MOI is organizing “workshops” at the Police Academy, where civil servants from different ministries are bused in for lectures on “Fourth Generation Warfare” and for raising awareness about “conspiracies aimed at bringing down the state.”