For Egypt’s ongoing crisis of leadership there is a distinct pattern of dissatisfaction with the state that is being aired first by anti-Morsi demonstrators and finally by pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood supporters. For the military regime that is now in charge, the message has so far been clear: demonstrations must stop or dissidents will be shot or arrested. This is a tough stance, and one that is not being received well internationally. For the Egyptian Army, there are three pathways which history has shown likely for a military coup of this nature.


Military Technocracy – Brazil 1964-1985

Soldiers guarding the Guanabara Palace during the 1964 Brazilian coup d’état on March 31, 1964. Brazilian National Archive (via FGV document archive.

The overthrow by the Brazilian Military of President João Goulart in 1964 following widespread dissatisfaction with terrible unemployment levels and deep economic crises ushered in what can be termed – perhaps generously – as a military technocracy. With full military control of the state, Brazilian generals imported scores of economics and development specialists, or technocrats, to work under the military regime towards rescuing the hopelessly-failed Brazilian economy. The US-aligned, anti-Communist regime also enjoyed very little international pressure to reform significantly, allowing the regime the space to seal international trade deals and prevent widespread sanctions.

Despite conventional wisdom, the regime actually achieved this remarkably well, with Brazilian GDP growth occassionally exceeding 10%. Dubbed the “Brazilian Miracle”, the country saw unprecedent wealth generation and development despite military control of the government. Dissidents were brutally tortured and killed, however, and freedom of speech was non-existent, but in terms of military regimes, there emanated a genuine desire by the military – who held majority popularity with the people – to set Brazil aright.

Gradual reforms and increases in civil liberties helped usher in a democratic state in 1985, with the help of General Geisel, who faced stiff opposition within the military against opening up the vice clamp of military control. Nontheless, the regime was responsible for some of the best economic times for the country.

Egypt’s indicators for this:

General al-Sisi has expressed a desire to incorporate technocrats into the regime in order to assist in solving many of Egypt’s economic woes. Whether economic problems still dominate the public discourse, however, remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the Egyptian military enjoys a lot of public, non-Muslim Brother support, particularly given their assistance in removing President Morsi and their non-involvement in President Mubarak’s downfall, which mimics the popularity of the Brazilian regime in the 60’s.

Additionally, the military enjoys, much like Brazil did, pro-American ties and ideology. Although military trade has been paused, President Obama has yet to enforce sanctions or any serious limiting of political ties with Egypt. As a key military partner not only in terms of trade – The Egyptians utilise American-made or licenced armour (M1A2 Abrams and M2 Bradley IFVs), aircraft (F16 fighter jets, Chinook medium lift helicopters, C130 transporters and so on) – but in the Middle East as a whole, the regime could well retain good international ties necessary for economic pathways to remain open for trade and foreign aid flows.

Put simply, if the Egyptian military is able to squash the widespread criticism it is receiving in the past week for its violent suppression of Muslim Brotherhood protests, the road is clear for it to pursue a Brazilian-styled technocracy.