Notes on Compulsory Army Service in Egypt

For full recipes, please visit our recently launched Egyptian Cuisine Recipes web site.

Many countries have some form of compulsory Army service for a certain period, including Netherlands, Israel, Turkey, Egypt and others. In Egypt, service in the army was compulsory for most of the 20th century. It is restricted to males 18 years to 35 years who do have another male brother, and is physically and mentally fit. Those who study can have a temporary reprieve until they finish their study, to a maximum of 24 or so. The duration of the service varies from 1 year (plus 3 months training) for university graduates, to 3 years for those with only elementary education. Before 1952, service could be avoided if one paid a large sum of money to the government. After 1952, and in the name of equality, this practice was abolished, and every eligible person had to serve. On the face of it, service in the army makes a young youth ready for combat if need be, teaches him to be adaptable, resourceful and tough. Reality is much different though. The army in Egypt, just like many other countries, is the culmination of bureaucracy, favoritism, nepotism, cronyism, corruption. All of these are rampant in the government, but more so in the army.The reasons for this are plenty. Those who serve in the army are two types: the recruits forced to serve before they can hold a job, or  travel abroad, and career staff. The career staff are two classes, the higher rank army officers (Second Lieutenant to General), and the lower rank (Private, Sargeant, ...etc.). The officers are either from a technical background (medicine, engineering, ...etc.) graduating from normal technical colleges, or of military disciplines, graduating from specialized military academies. Most join the army because it is a guaranteed government job that pays a relatively good salary and pension, and comes with many perks, such as use of army clubs, percieved social status, ...etc.. The lower rank officers are mostly people from lower social levels who have no education and join the Army because it is the only hope they have for a paying job. This is true in most armies of the world, including Canada, UK, USA and others. These lower rank officers can later go up to the first few ranks of officers, but are often derogatorily called ضابط مخلة (Dufflebag Officer), because they joined the armies as private rank soldiers.Many of the permanent  staff, specially the lower rank ones, disdain the temporary recruits, envying them for having education and better job prospects. They therefore use all the tricks to make their life miserable for the duration they are in the army. Some get the sick feeling of pleasure from the misery of others. Some feel satisfaction from being able to humilate a medical doctor or an engineer. Most of this is allowed in the name of teaching discipline and absolute obedience. Others use their position and influence as a secondary source of income. For example, they would agree to give recruits extra vacation days in return for a bribe. Some of these recruits, most likely farmers with no education at all, need the vacations because they have married early and have a family to support, so they need the vacation to work.Those lucky recruits with connections can practically spend the whole duration at home, with all the paper work arranged to make them look like they have been "sent on a mission" or "on loan" to some other unit. This is reminiscent of George W Bush national guard service during the Vietnam War era, but on a larger scale.Those with no connections, and no money for bribes can only watch how cruel real life is  ... So, the army is mostly a demoralizing experience for those forced to do the compulsory service. Some reverse wisdom can be seen in proverbs and saying that are famous in the army such as:

  • "Injustice to all is justice!" الظلم لما يعم يبقى عدل This is told by officers when recruits complain of some situation. The response is to apply injustice to everyone, then it becomes justice. Of course, not even this twisted logic is true, given the bribes and favoritism that are widely practiced.
  • "In the army, you have to find a way"الجيش قال لك اتصرف. This used to mean resourcefulness, and making do with what you have. However it gradually evolved into "the ends justify the means", such as bribes.
  • "Talk only about yourself" اتكلم عن نفسك بس. A rebellion in the army is a big disaster to the chain of command. A mutiny used to be punishable by death (e.g. Fletcher Christian and the Mutiny on the Bounty). Hence, the army always do not want any kind of groups forming under any circumstances.

Of course, the Egyptian army is up to the challenge in the battlefield, no doubts about that. However, the compulsory draft system is absolutely useless, and is a remnant from another age.

Contents: 

Comments

Military service

Hi...am a 20 year old egyptian and last year i went through the military procedures and cuz i dont have a bro i got the green certificate which states i dont have to do the military service as i dont have a brother and that this cerificate ends when am 29 years old....however my family got a new born boy couple of days ago...does this mean i will do the military service...note that any citizen do his ID card when he is 18years old...at that time my dad will be 60years old which means i dont have to do it...can anyone here please help me...

hi, my husband has been told

hi, my husband has been told he has to go to the army in a couple of weeks and he doesn;t want to go. i have been looking on the internet to see if he can get exempt for any reasons. He is the only child (son) but both his parents died when he as 10 years old. Can he get exempt for this reason for will he still have to go?

Thank You

A Friend's Situation

Hello,

I have a quick question, and would love to know your opinion on the matter. I have an egyptain friend. He is currently in Egypt dealing with the process of the complusory army. He is trying to get an exemption, but no word on that has surfaced yet. My friend has a very special case. Those are the facts about his case:
1- He is the only child of his mom and dad. However, his parents have been divorced for a long time now. They are both currently married to other people. The dad has another son and a daughter, and the mother has another daughter (two sibling from dad's side and one from the mother's side), but he is the only child of his parents.
2- His mom is not egyptain. She is a palestinian with a Qatari passport.
3- He finished his university degree in business this year.
4- He is 23 years old.
5- He's been living all of his life in Qatar.
6- He has poor eyesight in his RIGHT eye only.
7- And finally, he has a lot of alergies, and his nose is constantly blocked becuase of that (he uses his mouth to breathe).

From all of the things I mentioned above, do you think he'll be exempted from serving in the army? If so, which reason of the seven above would give him the best shot? If not, may I know the reasons why he is not exempt? and the duration of his service?

Sorry for keep this long, but I miss my buddy and I want him back in Qatar as soon as possible.

Looking forward to your reply

Military Service for Egyptian Citizens

I have a question. My ex-husband is Egyptian, but became an american citizen many years ago. We have two children together, a girl and a boy, both born in the USA. Several years ago, he registered our daughter's birth in Egypt. He didn't ask me about this before he did it when he was visiting there and told me after the fact. He said that makes her an Egyptian citizen. Our daughter is 18 now. He is leaving today for a visit to Egypt and he mentioned me wanted to register our son's birth in Egypt. He is 10 years old. If he did register our son's birth, would that make him an Egyptian citizen and would he then be required to serve in the Egyptian military one day? Is our daughter required to do some sort of civil service in Egypt? I am wondering if my kids end up visiting Egypt, would they run into any problems with this?

Thanks.

Registering is normal

Registering the sons and daughters of an Egyptian is routine, and make things much smoother if they ever want to own property there (think of a vacation home, land, ...etc.) and gives them all the rights that Egyptians has.

This is normal and he thought well to do it ahead of time, rather than deal with the hassle of paper work and bureaucracy after they are adults.

Dual nationals are normally exempt from many things, including civil service. Army service is technically required for males, but in practice, your son would not have to go to actual military service. The simple reason is that he will be entering Egypt and exiting on a US passport, and hence can't be prevented from travel.

military service

no he doesn't your son is in the same boat as me all he needs to do is to flash his american citizen ship. just like I flash my kiwi passport around they donot bother me then I would rather die than the serve the blood thirsty military in any capacity even if it is just to give them directions

egyptian army

If an egptian man has been in the US and is now getting deported back to Egypt, and he never joined the egyptian army, when he gets back to egypt will he be in trouble? will they Imprison him? will the make him join the army? What happens in these cases? I'm worried.

Depends on age

Normally, if the man is above a certain age (I can't remember if it is 35 or more), he will not be required to do army service.

If he is in his 20s, and meets other criteria (not registered at a university, has a surviving brother, ...etc), he will be required to report to army service.

If he is close to the age of exemption, and does not look for work in the government or does not apply for a passport, then it can just lapse without the army actively looking him up and arresting him.

hii my boyfriend is ane

hii my boyfriend is ane egypsian guy.. and he wants to come to visit me but i guess he is not quite sure if he can travel befor doing the army... can he???

Is it true an officer from the army can never marry foreigner?

Assalyamughaleikum, Mr. Baheyeldin,

Today I came accross with this website concerning military service in Egypt. I am really glad that many people are getting answers for their questions. Currently I am having the same related problems. I have a fiance who is of Egyptian citizenship. I am a foreigner from Kazakhstan. we recently got introduced with each other Islamically. However, after our introduction, my fiance asked me to pray as he might be called to the army. He is a new University graduate. We are both very sad. He just recently passed medical examination and the results should come out soon. He applied for an Officer that would last 3 years, but the problem is not the army, but as I heard it prohibits foreign marriage forever. In particular, if my fiance is accepted to the army as an officer, he can never get married to me. Saying the truth, it makes very upset. Please could you clarify it and respond to me as soon as you can. InshaAllah, may Allah help us to find the kheyr decision.
I appreciate your assistance.
Assalyamughaleikum,
Altyngul

Pages