For decades, the Egyptian military has operated an economy within an economy in Egypt. With the tacit support of the United States, the armed forces own and operate a sprawling network of for-profit businesses. The military runs factories that manufacture televisions, bottled water and other consumer goods. Its companies obtain public land at discounted prices. And it pays no taxes and discloses little to civilian officials.
Within weeks of Hosni Mubarak’s fall in February, experts predicted that the Egyptian military would refuse to relinquish its vast economic holdings or privileged position in society.
“Protecting its businesses from scrutiny and accountability is a red line the military will draw,” Robert Springborg, an expert on Egypt’s military at the Naval Postgraduate School, told The New York Times. “And that means there can be no meaningful civilian oversight.”
Protesters who are crossing that red line this week should be applauded, not oppressed. Egypt’s tumultuous revolution should be completed.
In increasingly brazen fashion, Egypt’s military has tried to usurp the revolt that toppled Mubarak in eighteen days and is transforming the Middle East. The protests this week are a legitimate response to those moves.