Sisi’s decision to give military graduates scientific degrees paves the way to militarizing the state

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On July 4, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified a new law that allows the Egyptian Military Academy to give its graduate bachelor and license degrees in politics, economics, commerce and engineering along with their military study without academic supervision. The new law was widely considered a continuation of privileging military staff to infiltrate the civil service and militarizing the state.

The law 149/2022 provides founding the Egyptian Military Academy to gather the military, air forces, naval and air defence colleges, and any new military college to be established later. A supreme council of the academy is to be formed of the military chiefs of staff and departments, the heads of the military bodies, and the academy manager. The law permitted the council to include a maximum of five civil professors, with the period of each being just two years.

The graduates of the military colleges get the degree of bachelor’s in military science, air defence, navy or military aviation, but article 36 of the new law allowed the defence minister to give the graduates licenses and bachelor’s degrees in different scientific fields using the regulations used in the Egyptian public universities. A day later, the presidential decision 302/2022 was published in the official gazette providing that the graduates of the military college will have a bachelor of politics, economics or statistics with their military certificate. Likewise, the naval college graduates will have just a bachelor’s degree in politics, aviation graduates a bachelor’s degree in commerce and computer science and systems, and air defence graduates with a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

The presidential decision said it aims at raising the efficiency of the military graduates without further reasoning or explaining how the military could regulate giving all these degrees through its academy. The students of the military academy study just for 23 months, which is, of course, insufficient for studying the required procedures to get all these bachelor’s degrees given to them by the presidential decision. This means those degrees are privileges rather than real studies added to the military graduates.

The decision also violates the principles of merit and equal opportunities, as the civil faculties of politics, economics and engineering require high educational scores to join them. At the same time, the military colleges accept the much lesser score, which means that many of their students did not prove their ability to study these fields. Initial signs indicate the decision aims at preparing a new military elite to take over the civil service. Sisi believed the state needed military administration to eliminate bad bureaucracy and corruption.

On the other hand, political analyst Mohamed Naeem expressed fears of using the new decision to transfer certain political ideologies and doctrines to the military students to create a doctrinal military rather than a national one. This army sees maintaining the current political regime as its fundamental role, as in the case of Syria. The decision was widely considered on Egyptian social media as one of the most serious decisions made by the Sisi regime on the road to militarising the state and linking the military directly to political power. Moreover, it expresses absolute disrespect for academic and scientific standards up to giving scientific degrees without any standards or regulations guaranteeing the quality of the study.