Steven Cook: “Istanbul on the Nile”
Writing for Foreign Affairs, Steven Cook argues that the “Turkish model”, a model by which the military plays a significant, leading role in state affairs, is not an appropriate solution for Egypt. He says that not only will a plan to move to the “Turkish model” fail, but it would also hinder Egypt’s growth and add uncertainty and complexity to the transitional phase.
Cook describes the “Turkish model” as follows: “It offers a template for civil-military relations in which the military plays a moderating role, preventing — at times, through military-led coups — the excesses of civilian politicians and dangerous ideologies from threatening the political order.”
Additionally, Cook asserts that Egyptian and Turkish militaries have demonstrated a shared mentality in that they have “an aversion to politics” and “they prefer to leave the responsibilities and risks of governing to civilians, or, in Egypt’s case, to a delegate from the armed forces.”
Now, he says, it appears as if some Egyptians have begun to study the “Turkish model”, citing measures that have been taken to ensure that commanders are shielded from prosecution in civilian courts, proposals have gone through non-military means to protect the defense budget from parliamentary oversight, and the National Defense Council was established. Cook maintains that the army is using ‘backhanded’ techniques to ensure that they will continue to hold a strong political influence in Egypt in the long-term.
On a final note, Cook says that the Turks differed from the Egyptian military in that they maintained one general ideology – Kemalism. It is unclear what the Egyptian SCAF believes in, and is thus far a hodgepodge of democrats, Islamists, secularists, and authoritarians. The SCAF ”officers seem only interested in stability, maintaining their economic interests, and preserving the legitimacy of the armed forces,” Cook states.