Western commentators, whether liberal, left or conservative, tend to see all forces of coercion in non-democratic states as the hammers of “dictatorship” or as expressions of the will of an authoritarian leader. But each police, military and security institution has its own history, culture, class-allegiances, and, often its own autonomous sources of revenue and support as well.Amar's explication of how Egypt's various police organs and military factions interact has made some of the events of the past few weeks much more sensible to me, especially the way various groups of police and military have appeared and disappeared, or appeared to change sides.
For what it's worth, here is Amar's conclusion:
Mubarak is already out of power. The new cabinet is composed of chiefs of Intelligence, Air Force and the prison authority, as well as one International Labor Organization official. This group embodies a hard-core “stability coalition” that will work to bring together the interests of new military, national capital and labor, all the while reassuring the United States. Yes, this is a reshuffling of the cabinet, but one which reflects a very significant change in political direction. But none of it will count as a democratic transition until the vast new coalition of local social movements and internationalist Egyptians break into this circle and insist on setting the terms and agenda for transition.
I would bet that even the hard-line leaders of the new cabinet will be unable to resist plugging into the willpower of these popular uprisings, one-hundred million Egyptians strong.