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Abstract

This thesis takes an historically-informed approach to the transformation of military-society relations within the 1952 Free Officers’ regime; the shifting position of the armed forces in vis-à-vis the powerful centralized presidency (military-executive relations); and the political implications of the military’s unique institutional legitimacy and close symbolic association with state-based nationalism on the 2011 Egyptian uprising. It asks the question: How did the Egyptian Armed Forces not only survive the crisis of legitimacy that threatened the nondemocratic regime status quo in 2011, but even emerge with its relative power and institutional legitimacy largely intact? The goal is to better comprehend authoritarian regime continuity – understood to be underpinned by the overlapping dimensions of legitimacy, repression, and co-optation – through close study of the selected case, Egypt. This thesis traces the transformation of military-society relations since the 19th century leading up to the 1952 coup d’etat, and through three successive officer-presidents within the ‘stable’ yet contested Free Officers’ regime; followed by detailed analysis of the military’s role in the 18 days of uprising and direct seizure of executive power and through the end of the military junta-managed ‘transition’ period(2011-2012). This case study illustrates the mechanisms underpinning post-Mubarak structural regime continuity preserving the military’s relative power and legitimacy, by taking an military-centric perspective in light of historically-constructed patterns of military-society and military-executive relations.

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