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Soldiers, Spies, and Statesmen: Egypt's Road to Revolt

Gripping analysis of Egypt's transformation from military regime to police state, on the road to revolution

One of the most momentous events in the Arab uprisings that swept across the Middle East in 2011 was the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak. As dramatic and sudden as this seemed, it was only one further episode in an ongoing power struggle between the three components of Egypt’s authoritarian regime: the military, the security services, and the government. A detailed study of the interactions within this invidious triangle over six decades of war, conspiracy, and sociopolitical transformation, Soldiers, Spies, and Statesmen is the first systematic analysis of recent Egyptian history. 

This paperback edition, updated to incorporate events in 2013, provides the background necessary to understanding how the military rebranded itself as the defender of democracy and ousted Mubarak’s successor, Muhammad Morsi. Impeccably researched and filled with intrigue, Soldiers, Spies, and Statesmen is an indispensable guide for anyone trying to fathom what this latest development means for Egypt’s future.

Reviews

  • “This is a fascinating book that should be required reading for anybody interested in Egypt’s past and what happens next. It gives a unique insight into what the military and security forces were thinking and doing, and why they were not the monolithic force that most had imagined.”
  • “Hazem Kandil’s important book … effectively rewrites the inner history of the Free Officers’ state and his book deserves to spark sustained debate. It provides an exceptionally detailed account of the endless power struggle… and offers startling new accounts of the major crises.”
  • “An indispensable read for anyone seeking clarity on the ongoing struggle between the military, security and political apparatuses of Egypt’s autocracy.”
  • “Meticulous documentation, engaging style and skilful weaving of complex phenomena into a coherent narrative.”
  • “At last comes a book which links the coups and revolutions witnessed by father and son. The Cambridge sociologist Hazem Kandil has produced a compelling history of Egypt’s 60-year power struggle. It is a tale of ruinous incompetence and staggering venality which consumes the country to this day. Unlike the modern-era pharaohs responsible, this book takes no prisoners. Beginning with Nasser, this is a withering denunciation of Egypt’s myth-makers and their phoney myths.”

Blog

  • Eighteen Days

    Six years ago today, Hosni Mubarak resigned the presidency of Egypt, concluding three decades in power following sustained protests. Below we present an excerpt from Hazem Kandil's 2012 Soldiers, Spies, and Statesmen: Egypt's Road to Revolt that narrates the eighteen days of resistance that preceeded Mubarak's ouster. 



    Vice President Omar Suleiman announces Mubarak's departure. 

    The year 2011 was the year of the purported succession. Reports circulating around the country confirmed that Hosni Mubarak was planning to pass on the mantle to his son in September. With the father and the last of the ruling party’s old guard gone, there would be no court of appeal against the economic corruption and exploitation of Gamal Mubarak’s capitalist cronies. The day (January 25) was Police Day — a national holiday honoring that bloody morning in 1952 when the British killed dozens of Egyptian policemen because they refused to surrender their weapons and stood tall in defense of national dignity — a day that always highlighted the dark contrast between what the police used to be and what they had become.

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  • A Higher Standard

    "We know that the work for the left now is long and slow and that it requires force and numbers and commitment at a grassroots, community level. We must also recognise that the challenge for the left in 2017 is one of transnational solidarity: figuring out how to join up, link up and learn from global struggles." - Rachel Shabi looks back at a year of many challenges, and what we can do to build solidarity and resistance in 2017.

    Of course it wasn’t the worst year, ever. Those bewailing the myriad awfulness of 2016 know history has dealt worse than the year of Brexit and Donald Trump’s election, the year of deadly terror attacks around the world, a desperate refugee crisis and an alarming rise in far-right forces across Europe. Even ignoring swathes of history, recent years have been awful, too: the five since the Arab Uprisings have seen grotesque war in Syria, a deadly assault on Yemen, repression and human rights abuses in Egypt and Bahrain – as well as a harsh crackdown in Turkey, once considered to be a ‘model’ for the region. Egyptian analysts might well say the “worst year ever” was 2013, when a military coup put their authoritarian, Abdel Fatah el-Sisi in charge.


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  • Crisis and Conflict in the Middle East: A Reading List

    An agreement has been reached to evacuate civilians and opposition fighters from the besieged eastern districts of the city of Aleppo, a senior Turkish official and rebel officials have told the Guardian.

    The agreement has capped weeks of horrific suffering and violence that have left many dead and others in total despair, raising serious questions at the lack of response from the international community.

    People in east Aleppo have issued desperate pleas for rescue, posting farewell messages on Monday night and into Tuesday morning, predicting they would either die in the ongoing bombardment or be tortured and killed if they surrendered.


    As events continue to unfold, we present a reading list of key books which — through investigative journalism, graphic storytelling, and critical analysis – shed light on the unfolding crisis in the Middle East.


    Syrians leave a rebel-held area of Aleppo to go to the government-held side.

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