Egyptian Military’s ‘Neutrality’ Wavers, Crackdowns Begin

Military Detaining Activists, Journalists Without Charges

When the uprising in Egypt began last month and the military took to the streets, protesters greeted them with open arms. Even now, they continue to receive praise for their comparative neutrality, having not gone on the sort of killing sprees that some feared would be called to keep Mubarak in power.

But as the unrest continues and as the end-game negotiations begin, it seems the military’s neutrality has wavered and now they have taken to arresting human rights activists, journalists, and organizers of protests, detaining all without charges.

Summary and open-ended detentions are a long-standing part of the Mubarak regime’s SOP, and also a major reason why there is a revolt against it now. The military’s role is such detentions is growing, leading to fear it is building up to a full-on crackdown on dissent.

But the military isn’t just a bottled water company (though it surely is that too), and it has long had designs on moving against a lot of these opposition factions as “threats to national security.” It may well be this, more than anything else, that is driving them away from the protests and back toward Mubarak-style summary justice.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.