To call the Egyptian Armed Forces influential would waste a great opportunity to use the phrase "iron fist," and that would be a shame -- until Netflix releases their Marvel series, our chances to use such a glorious phrase may be few and far between. The EAF's influence extends way beyond Egypt's military -- it's also the country's biggest corporation. Every government body is more or less under control of military personnel. Shockingly, military-controlled businesses seem to bag all the major contracts for government construction projects, such as the development of the Suez Canal.
via Wiki Commons
Most armies don't literally carve up continents.
It's impossible to say just how big the EAF is, at least not without invoking the inevitable comparisons to Hydra. Military-controlled companies are estimated to produce the majority of the country's consumer and industrial products. Experts say that up to 60 percent of the economy could be under EAF control. Still, it's all guesswork: Good luck finding reliable numbers in a world where business projects and financial statements are classified and marketing is aided by a goddamned military propaganda machine.
During the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, a group of army officers -- backed by enormous financial resources -- overthrew King Farouk and helped establish a republican form of government. And once the revolution ended, the new government was left with a large body of soldiers who didn't have much else to do. Since they had just finished Season 1 of Military Coup: Egypt, the government couldn't just fire them and risk pissing off a whole bunch of soldiers specifically trained to overthrow governments. So they stuck around, dabbling in whatever they felt like with impunity. It wasn't until the Arab Spring that they became the powerhouse they are today. During the 2011 protests that eventually ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak, the army flat out ignored government orders to fire at the protesters, and instead joined the anti-Mubarak posse. As awe-inspiring as this seemed at the time, it wasn't out of the goodness of their hearts: Mubarak and the EAF had been struggling for power for some time, so the military was all too happy to see him go.