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Abstract

My dissertation investigates the rise of police powers in militarized regime by asking the following questions: How can we understand this change in militaries’ political roles in systems where they traditionally held despotic and infrastructural power? What factors might prevent the civilianization of force when elites attempt to implement the shift? How do civilian institutions of force (police) support authoritarian regimes? And what are the limits of their support? I engage with these questions to produce a theoretically-informed analysis of the dynamics of leader-institutions of force relations and present a theory about leader survival and intra-authoritarian transitions. I identify the rise of police powers as a process of ‘civilianization of force’ where missions of domestic control are shifted away from the military and assigned primarily to the police. The dissertation aims to bring the police, as a civilian institution of force, into the study of civil-military relations and state-society dynamics. My enquiry into politics of domestic security arrangements is based on a thorough comparative historical investigation of Egyptian militarized regimes politics under Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak. Chapter 1 introduces the ‘Civilianization of Force’ theory, underlining the gaps in our knowledge about leader survival in militarized regimes. Building on insights about the different levels of threats facing leaders, I argue that civilianizing force is a strategy that aims to contain threats from the military beyond just coups while maintaining the leaders’ autocratic control. As a strategy that aims to make a shift in officers’ preferences, it is qualitatively different from counter-balancing which focus on operational tactics for coup-proofing. Chapter 2 examines the militarization of force under Nasser and how the salience of coup threats impacted the leader’s choice of coup-proofing measures. The chapter also examines the impact of external threat on the militarization of the system. It traces the change in leader position within the regime to explain its impact on intra-junta rivalry and leader survival. In chapters 3 and 4, I zoom in on non-coup threats from the military and the leader’s shift to civilianize force and disengage the military from domestic control. I propose a broader lens that takes into account the multiple functions and nature of institutions of force in order to explain these shifts. I draw upon the empirical accounts of Sadat’s success in displacing the military from domestic control to argue that “compensated displacement” is a crucial mechanism within the civilianizing process. Chapter 4 shows Mubarak’s efforts to disengage the military and build-up the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Interior (MoI). The chapter also discusses the reasons for the regime’s fall and the break-down of its civilianization of force process. Chapters 5 and 6 investigate the MoI’s practices under Mubarak by tracing the increase in political power of the MoI’s police force and surveillance department (Mabaheth Amn alDawla). I adopt a post-Weberian analysis building on Joel Migdal’s state-in-society approach to explain the impact of police practices on intra-state and state-society relations. Chapter 5 focuses on how the illegal, but regime-condoned, police practices produced tensions between the judiciary and the MoI especially with regards to the rigging of parliamentary elections. The legislature was not only controlled by the executive but became the battle ground over which the state fought the state. I argue that the deepening tension about state practices between the wielders of physical force and juridical capitals, whose powers should have harmoniously overlapped, had produced ultimately an incoherent disintegrating regime. In chapter 6, I turn to scholarship in organizational theory to discuss the violence of state agents against apolitical citizens. I probe the organizational structure of the MoI to show how the illegal coercive practices by non-commissioned officers reflect pervasive problems with professionalization and institutional inequalities within the force.

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