Sayigh brilliantly dissects the Egyptian military’s dominance of Egypt’s economy. The tentacular reach of the Ministry of Defense into the economy is almost seven decades old, but its growth accelerated under the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak and has increased even more under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who came to power in 2013. The military may control as much as 20 percent of total public spending. At the same time, it is not subject to external audit or parliamentary oversight. It is a rent-making machine, controlling the commercial use of most of Egypt’s land. It imports and manufactures drugs and food staples, labeling these commodities as strategic. It has a bevy of private-sector allies. It is exempt from taxes and import duties on most of its activities. And it benefits from the silence of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the United States. All that can check its hold over the economy is its own drag on Egypt’s potential growth.
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