Notes on Compulsory Army Service in Egypt

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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.

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Comments

I do not think why not, I am

I do not think why not, I am married to a guy and he is in the army. All what he needs is a permission before getting married. Not a big deal.

Then he lied?

He said his brother would have a lot of trouble if he married a foreigner... that it was an obstacle for us to get married... he is not even te one in the army... his brother is not doing the military service bt he is there permanently as his job I believe and according to my exboyfriend him marrying me will have affected his position.... if that true? can someone clear this out for me please?

Another scam

As far as I know marriage will not affect his brother. The hard truth is that he does not want to marry you.

My fiancé is a student in

My fiancé is a student in Egypt, and he has a postponed military due to study. If he has a fiancé visa or a spouse visa in his passport, would Egypt let him travel? He is 22, and we are trying to make our life together, I don't know if they will let him leave when he gets to the airport and shows a visa, even though he is postponed and has the certificate in the passport.
Does anyone know about this?
Thank you so much.
(I live in the US)

I know that if a man is

I know that if a man is postponed for whatever reason then he has to get travel permission from the military before he can leave Egypt. I met my husband when he was in his final year of his degree which meant that Egypt would not allow him to leave the country as it was so close to the end of his postponed period. After we got married we learned that he might be given this travel permission as they are supposed to allow a man to leave the country if it's to visit a foreign relative or for medical or religious reasons, and only if he applied for this before taking his final exams (as it's something that he must return for.) We were planning on applying for this travel permission but he had a visiting visa refused anyway (which we appealed against and won 6months later.) He has now been randomly selected for 3-years postponement (thank God) so I'm wondering if they will allow him to leave if he has a settlement visa, which he's assured me that he will as he has a right to get on with his life in that time.

Hi, I am 28y Egyptian living

Hi, I am 28y Egyptian living abroad but do not hold any other nationality,
after graduation I took 5-years postponement as I was the only supporter for my family when my brother was still in college, then he was graduated and he was exempted for good from the army,
I finished my 5-years postponement in 2009 and never go to egypt since. my passport is about to expire end of this year and I am not able to extend it,
I have issued an authorization for my brother to check my army status but not yet done, i was told by our embassy that i might have a case against me and in this case u can pay a fine and then u get the release, is this true? even though I am not 30?
what is the solution? can I do anything? I am the only supporter for my family
Thank you

The Egyptian Embassy where you may be...

If there is an Egyptian Citizen, then go to the Egyptian consulate where ever you may be, search google the Egyptian Consulate in for example America. Then call them, and ask them the same question. My Egyptian Husband said that, you can renew it from them. Good luck.

my husband recieved a letter

my husband recieved a letter that he is not eligable to go to the army and to come back in 3 months to get the final copy signed. Does anyone know how soon after this he will be able to travel? I am concerned that they will prolong this as well. When he returns for it, and it is confirmed that he is exempt, then everything with the army is finished?

It has been a long road and alot of ups and downs along the way, I just dont want to get my hopes up to find them spiral down...AGAIN. Any comments or information would be great thank you.

Hi Did he get exempted on the

Hi

Did he get exempted on the ground that he is married to you as a foreigner.

Hello: Yes he did. I am

Hello:

Yes he did. I am unsure of the exact wording but it's because we are married. After all the investigating I am a security threat.

I dont know what steps are to follow, but so far we have just done what they asked of us. Now all that remains is him returning in a few months time for the final copy signed and stamped/sealed. Then he will apply for a visa and inshallah he will be able to come here.

If anyone knows anything of the next stages in our journey we would love to have all the hints advice or information you may have.

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