How Egypt's army won

The military council exemplifies the highly adaptive quality of Egypt’s governing elite. Egypt’s senior generals have remade the ruling coalition by using centralized authority to neutralize newly included political forces and divide the increasingly marginalized protesters. In the process, the military has effectively prevented all groups from resisting its encroachment as a fourth estate.

This was possible because the state’s apparatus, while disrupted, held after Mr. Mubarak’s departure. The hierarchy within the vast and largely cohesive state bureaucracy resumed functioning as the effect of the protests subsided. The state media began accusing protesters of causing chaos, scaring tourists and being agents of foreign elements. The demands of workers, women and Coptic Christians were dismissed as special interests of secondary importance.

The security services were re-branded, and successive courtroom acquittals gave them a guarantee that their repression of fellow Egyptians would have no legal ramifications. As time passed, the post-Mubarak regime began to look and act like its predecessor. Buttressed by the machinery of the state, the military then sought allies to contain the power of future protests. High electoral drama has produced what political scientists call a “pact making” exercise.