Political Strategies and Regime Survival in Egypt

Those following the events in Egypt will be interested to read Curtis Ryan’s article on regime survival in Egypt. First published in 2001 in the Journal of Third World Studies, “Political Strategies and Regime Survival in Egypt,” traces and compares the regime survival strategies of three Egyptian regimes – those of Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak – across roughly 40 years of Egyptian politics. The article examines three approaches to regime survival – containment, repression, and external diversion – and shows how each president utilized these to stay in power. Ryan contrasts these strategies, which he terms “cynical,” with real reform and meaningful change. Ryan compares the usage of these three strategies across the three regimes and notes the variations in their usage over time. Both Nasser and Sadat, for instance, used engagement in international affairs to distract the Egyptian people from their domestic troubles, while Mubarak, however, did not use this strategy.

Ryan’s article argues that despite their ideological and other differences, each Egyptian regime came to be over-reliant on these cynical strategies for regime survival rather than embarking on more meaningful reform. But, at the time of original publication, this article also sounded a slightly optimistic note that Mubarak might finally break from this trend, while also noting the warning signs to the contrary. Since 2001, however, the situation grew steadily worse, and Mubarak too – like his predecessors – came to rely almost solely on these more cynical approaches, countering reform pressures, and continuing to use repressive tactics.

Download “Political Strategies and Regime Survival in Egypt” from the Journal of Third World Studies here, or email info@pomeps.org for assistance.