Thursday, 17 February 2011

Mea Culpa

For the sake of transparency, and since far more people than I ever expected took an interest in the matter, I should point out that in my posting on the Egyptian military a few days ago, I was not entirely accurate about the distribution of provincial governships between the army and police. At the time many Egyptian government websites were not working properly and I was reluctant to invest too much time in the research, which involves some digging around. Now I think I have established the facts and they are appear to be thus:

Border and Suez Canal governorates: 9 governors from the army
Other governorates: 6 police, 4 army, 10 civilian

    Frankly I was surprised how many are civilian. I was at least correct in saying that the police outnumber the army in interior governorates. I have put the three Suez Canal governorates with the border governorates because of the obvious external security implications of the Suez Canal.
    In the meantime I have browsed through the boards of directors of many of the public-sector companies and out of the scores of names and CVs I checked the only ex-military member I found was the chairman of the Holding Company for Maritime Transport, who is/was an admiral. Otherwise, as I expected, these people appear to be overwhelming technocrats and professionals. None of the CEOs of the state pharmaceutical companies are military, despite reports that the military has extensive interests in that sector. In fact, many of those CEOs are women.
    One reader brought up the question of to what extent the military depends on commercial profits to finance its operations. The number we have seen (revenues of 2 billion pounds a year) would cover only a small fraction of the military budget, which must be at least 50 billion pounds, including the US military aid for procurement.
    Most of the signs so far point to the military council wanting to give up political power quickly and return to its comfortable and cocooned existence. I heard from a reliable source that some politicians have pressed them to stay a little longer, on the grounds that six months is too short for political mobilisation, but the generals insisted on the existing timetable.     

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