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The Role the Egyptian Military Played in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution


The 2011 Revolution in Egypt was a significant event in the modern History of Egypt. Since the beginning of the 19th century, the fifth revolution has occurred in Egypt. Four previous revolutions spawned from a partnership between civilians and the Army on the revolution’s protection, establishment, and implementation (Duesdieker, 2019). The 2011 revolution had special features that promoted its unique success and vast effects compared to the other revolutions (Duesdieker, 2019). First, the revolution needed a leader who drew the masses into its ranks. Before the restriction on the freedom of speech of civilians, the revolution grew from the social media internet, that is, Facebook and Twitter until it became a reality. The revolution’s success thus depended on the vast contribution of the Military. This paper is set to answer the questions about the significant role of the Egyptian Military in the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the significant factors that led to their involvement in the intervention, and why their interventions were required. Hence, this paper will discuss how the Egyptian Military played a significant role through all the phases of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.


Since the inception of the modern Egyptian state, the Egyptian Military has spawned as the most influential and powerful actors. Since the late 1970s, there has been little influence on history and the contextualization of the Military despite its continued influence in Egyptian economic and political life as a community and institution of elites (Hoyle, 2019, p. 1001). In our current moment, it could explain the dependent involvement of the military in politics, especially the 18-day 2011 uprising, and its impacts. According to Hoyle (2019), several significant factors molded the Military’s choices during the 2011 revolution. Grassroots pressure from the protestors and threats from public and private segments to go on strike influenced central authorities into giving to their demands. The demands surrounded freedom and social justice with the reform of the Ministry of Interior, and police brutality was also a critical motivator for the revolution (Hoyle, 2019, p. 1000). A setback faced the decision of the Military to intervene in the revolution as Mubarak’s regime salvaged the legitimacy of their regime. Also, the military’s concern about its reducing influence or portion in the Egyptian ruling class was vital, as was the need to offer protection for its corrupt military leaders who were about to face prosecution. Egypt duly entered a military-based leadership following the resignation of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, where the rulership was under the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF). Once again, the Military reached the forefront of Egyptian politics. The revolution succeeded in toppling Mubarak due to the decision of the Military to side with the revolution. However, it was not entirely due to the sympathy of the Military for its troubled civilians but due to its strategic calculations.

The article by Duesdieker (2019) explains that the military planned to groom Gamal for the presidency as a civilian president of Egypt for the first time in 50 years. Gamal Mubarak’s group of elites also fueled the societal tension, causing the revolution, which inevitably affected the military’s privileged position. Also, the economic policies that caused the shift in the ruling class changed the balance since Nasser.

The need for the military to strategize itself back into the ruling class was a significant incentive for its involvement in the 2011 revolution. The Egyptian military-led intervention in the 2011 revolution led to presidential elections in 2012, where senior Muslim bodies like Mohamed Morsi won. Following Mori’s win, the constitution led by the new government reinstated and protected the Military’s privileges (Duesdieker, 2019). The Military’s interventions in 2011 can be viewed as their intent to restore themselves to the ruling class and protect their privileges from the protests. However, no matter the factors that led to their involvement in the 2011 revolution, the Military played critical roles in shifting the outcomes of the revolution through a military-civilian-led revolution (Duesdieker, 2019). Understanding the role of the Military is significant not to justify any theories that surround views that the Military had their agenda and used the civilians to undertake the coup. Hence, we can significantly state that the 2011 Egyptian revolution would not have been possible without military involvement.

Role of Egyptian Military on the January 25, 2011 Revolution

When the 2011 Egyptian revolution began, the Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) took the roles of filling the security vacuum left by the disappearance of police forces, stopping any further attacks on government offices, public premises, and facilities, securing vital installations, and protecting the homeland from looting, thuggery or further violence (Duesdieker, 2019). Before crossing from the transitional to stability phase, Egypt went through several events that impacted the outcome of the 2011 revolution (Duesdieker, 2019). Thus, the EAF’s role in the 2011 Egyptian revolution can be discussed from three periods encompassing the 2011 Egyptian revolution. These periods can be divided into three phases that span from January 25 to the presidential elections in June 2012.

Phase 1: Between January 25 to February 11, 2011

In this phase, the central role of EAF was to offer security and protection to Egypt through its collapse by offering essential services and security. After the disappearance of the national police forces, the EAF dispersed throughout the country in vital cities and provinces to promote safety. The EAF secured vital warehouses, national police camps, and installations from theft of ammunition and weapons (Duesdieker, 2019). It also offered security in top prisons from breakouts of any break-ins by criminal individuals or entities. Concurrently, the EAF secured critical installations, foreign embassies, important Arab embassies, the Suez Canal, and archeological sites. With widespread criminal activities, EAF secured funding distribution and transportation from central and subsidiary banks using assets from the Armed forces. An article by Fisher (2021) stated, ‘ The national security of the state is at risk from the developments taking place in the country, which makes it imperative for us to prevent these risks’ (Fisher). This means that the EAF saw the need to intervene even without being called by the civilians. Also, the EAF assisted in meeting the citizens’ needs by offering goods and food transportation and working with other civilian departments and authorities. The EAF addressed the civilians about their contributions and legitimate stand during the 2011 Egyptian revolution at Tahrir Square. Fisher (2021) added that the EAF offered urgent and necessary medical assistance to civilians and all injured individuals in military and civilian hospitals. Thus, during this phase, the EAF offered food, security, medical assistance, gas, water, electricity supply, and communications to all citizens to the best of its ability.

Phase 2: Between February 12 to October 31, 2011

The EAF continued its purpose of stabilizing the country through this phase. However, this phase focused on promoting security and political affairs and enhancing the country’s economy. The EAF worked with the police to remove infringements from state corporations’ properties and agricultural lands. All illegal activities were also referred to military courts to enhance the quick restoration of law and order (Korotayev & Zinkina, 2022, p. 655). The EAF also enhances security measures in securing the country’s borders, especially the Sinai Peninsula and the western border with Libya, where increasing smuggling of illegal arms and drugs and illegal immigration have occurred since the fall of the Libyan regime. The EAF used cash from its budget to relieve the country from economic and financial constraints, prevent the collapse of the national economy, and revive it even further (Korotayev & Zinkina, 2022, p. 672). The SCAF, however, worked hard to respond to the demand of legitimate sectors, citing improvement in their living conditions and an increase in their monthly pensions and salaries. The EAF worked with national housing corporations to curb overpopulation by putting cost-effective housing areas in many of its provinces in place.

The EAF worked together with the SCAF to promote unity that was threatened by the strife that exploded between Christians and Muslims. The SCAF launched an internet information campaign, running state media, internet, and radio, and conducted seminars to communicate with the civil community (Duesdieker, 2019). In foreign affairs notion, the SCAF offered intermediary reconciliation between Hams and Fath bin Cairo and offered success in prisoner exchange deals between Israelis and Palestinians. In domestic political affairs, the SCAF amended Constitution articles, offered declarations of the Constitution, and conducted a Referendum in March 2012 to promote public consensus and legitimacy, promoting impartiality and transparency (Duesdieker, 2019). With the EAF, the SCAF offered a planned timetable of democracy and promised to issue power back to the legitimately elected leader by the end of March 2012.

Phase 3: November 1, 2011, to July 2012

During this period, the EAFR focused on establishing a timeframe for democracy in three stages: first, perform legislative elections. Secondly, elections of the Shura Council and Parliament, then third, County Assembly elections, which played a crucial part in setting the new constitution with presidential elections following (Korotayev & Zinkina, 2022, p. 668). The SCAF held seminars that prepared citizens for the electoral process. The EAF continued informing citizens of their rights and responsibilities through information campaigns. The EAF secured about 12,491 polling centers while working with the civilian police, offering about 25,000 troops for security measures. Over 32 million voters participated in the parliamentary elections for the first time in Egypt’s history, including individuals from abroad (Korotayev & Zinkina, 2022, p. 670). In electing a governor in the post-Mubarak era, two Islamist parties, Al Nour and Justice Party, won 70 percent of the parliamentary seats, and the rest were divided among the remaining parties. The neutrality and impartiality of the individuals that held the election received praise from international communities.

After the parliamentary elections ended on January 25, 2012, SCAF released about 200 prisoners and detainees during the revolution in January 2011. They also transferred the legitimate power to parliament and canceled emergency law. By the end of the presidential elections on July 30, 2012, the SCAF handed power to the winner, Mohammed Mursi, which was the first victory of the Islamist and head of state in the Arab world (Korotayev & Zinkina, 2022, p. 660). The EAF fulfilled its promise and saw Egypt survive collapse through the revolutionary stages. It helped maintain law and order and restore balance in a conflicting society.

Issues that made the Civilians call for EAF Intervention

It was pretty evident that the EAF was needed since the police forces disappeared, a security power vacuum needed to be filled, and since the Military was stable, it took complete charge. However, the civilians called for military interventions, knowing and hoping that they would show compassion and treat civilians with respect and equality they were yearning. The Military was a clear reflection of the Egyptian population since it comprised human and psychological individuals (El-Ghobashy, 2021). In the face of the people., the Military was not seen as armed forces of mercenaries but as individuals from humble backgrounds seeking to meet the same goals as the civilians of restoring peace, balance, and security to the conflicting nation. With unstable leadership, the civilians needed the Military to assist in economic respiration and development since the Egyptian Military generated high contribution proportions of the project developments and service sectors in the State (El-Ghobashy, 2021). Also, during times of crisis, the Constitution required the Military to intervene. In the Egyptian Constitution of 1971, in articles 180 to 183, the EAF must assist the country during a crisis. Hence, one role of the Military is to enforce security and law in Egypt during a crisis. With military support, the people with the military could overthrow President Mubarak’s regime, declaring the end of the first republic and bringing the second one.


The EAF interventions were just and principled in maintaining law and order and promoting safety and security in Egypt during the 2011 revolution. The EAF, with the SCAF as an institutions, played effective and positive noble roles in the 2011 Egyptian revolution. When you compare Yemeni, Libyan, and Syrian counterparts with the Egyptian EAF, the EAF is noble and respectable (El Chazli, 2020, p. 136). It offered a good model of freedom that promoted strength in the relations of the Army and the people of Egypt. The EAF played its roles quite well and returned its barracks after handing over power to a safe, trusted, elected, and legitimate leader. They were reliable agents of positive influence for stability and modernization in present and future development of Egypt(El Chazli, 2020, p. 136). However, one question remains: what will the role of the EAF in the future domestic and international affairs in the coming years? Further research can be done to enhance ideas and understand the future roles of EAF in the development of Egypt.


Duesdieker, A. (2019). Militarizing the Nation: The Army, Business, and Revolution in Egypt.

El Chazli, Y. (2020). Revolution as a life-altering experience: The case of Egypt. Crown Center for Middle East Studies136.

El-Ghobashy, M. (2021). Bread and freedom: Egypt’s revolutionary situation. Stanford University Press.

Fisher, M. (2021, December 1). Here’s the Egyptian Military’s full statement warning it may act in 48 hours. Washington Post.

Korotayev, A., & Zinkina, J. (2022). Egypt’s 2011 revolution: A demographic structural analysis. In Handbook of revolutions in the 21st century: The new waves of revolutions, and the causes and effects of disruptive political change (pp. 651-683). Cham: Springer International Publishing.


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