Sample Case Study on Corruption in Egypt

Corruption in Egypt

Egypt is located in the Northern part of the African continent along the Mediterranean Sea. According to Blaydes, Egypt is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Etiologically, the word Egypt was derived from a Greek word Aegyptos that means ‘House of the spirit Ptah’ who was initially regarded as the God of Egyptians. Primarily, the early kingdom was referred to as ‘Kemet’, which meant the black land due to its rich black cotton soil at the banks of the Nile. This is where early settlement and civilization began. Egypt was later known as Misr, a name that is used to refer to the country to date. The country thrived for thousands of years as an independent country whose culture marveled people in the world because of its unique art, religion, and science. The ancient monuments have been celebrated largely. The Egyptian culture placed a critical role in civilization of Rome and Greece (40)

Initially, Egypt was a dynastic state under the leadership of Pharaoh Manes between (c.3150-2686BCE). During this time, the northern and southern kingdoms were unified to create one Egyptian nation. Trade in Egypt increased significantly and the pyramids and famous Egyptian monuments were made. Pharaoh enjoyed absolute power with a stable central government. The country had no foreign threats from the neighboring kingdoms, a fact that boosted the Egyptian economic prosperity. However, the wealth of the kings in the 5th and 6th dynasties was depleted due to the construction of the pyramids. His powers were lost to the priests and the nobility, thus making the old kingdom to end in chaos after ruling for 94 years (Fisher and Stewart 10).

In the 13th dynasty, Egypt was marked with a period of unsettled succession wars, which saw division of Egypt into many leadership spheres. The official government and the royal court relocated to Thebs while the rival camp carried out their operations in Xois in the Nile delta (Blaydes 40).At this time, foreign rulers invaded Egypt by taking advantage of the instability in the country. The foreign rulers adopted many Egyptian traditions in their leadership. The central government wedged war on the foreign rulers and expelled them around 1570 B.C.

The country is renowned for its military conquests and wars that it waged against such countries as Israel during different regimes. Egypt became independent in 1923 after defeating the British. The citizens advocated for constitutional reforms and termination of the British protectorate. However, British signed a treaty, which allowed it to control the Suez Canal and reduction of the number of Egyptian forces. Later Egypt joined other Arab countries after the defeat of the Nazi to form the Arab League, which was a vehicle use by Arab nations to achieve independence (Blaydes 40). However, the ghost of corruption has haunted the country with each regime that comes into power and even they fought against their adversaries.

Corruption within various regimes

War against Israel: the onset on institutional corruption in Egypt

The Egyptian prime minister Nokrashy Pasha predicted the defeat of the war sent his troops to support the Palestine’s reluctantly in 1948. However, they joined other members of the Arab League to support Palestine. Soliman argues that the Egyptian forces were not prepared for the war; the Israeli army overwhelmed the Egyptian forces .Gamal Abd El-Nasser was among the Egyptian soldiers who were trapped in Fallujah and was exchanged as a prisoner. He was among the soldiers who witnessed the defeat and humiliation and blamed their defeat on corrupt regime of King Farouk. Nasser in 1952 through the free officer movement overthrew Farouks leadership thus bringing to an end the dynastic leadership in Egypt. Nasser was against the West influence and turned to USSR to aid in the building of the Aswan High Dam and Czechoslovakia to equip the army. This angered Israeli leadership. The Jewish community in Egypt left and the relationship between Egypt and Israel worsened (15).

President Nasser became popular among Arab nations through his doctrine of Pan-Arabism and latter on got the support of the USSR. He got Egypt to participate in costly warfare in Yemen between 1962 to 1967 and made several attempts to establish United Arab Republic, which never materialized.

Nasser in 1960s rallied Arab countries to attack Israel to put his name in history as the one who liberated Palestine from Israel through his Pan-Arabism ideologies. Unfortunately, his dreams were ended through humiliation of Egypt in a war, which lasted for six days, and the death of Pan –Arabism. He also chaired meetings where plans for blocking of Jordan to stall Israel projects were hatched. Egypt also began buying weapons from the Soviet Union to prepare in the event of war with Israel. During the buying of the military equipment, massive corruption occurred which saw commanders in the army amerce more wealth through scandalous deals. He died in 1970 through a heart attack (Fisher and Stewart 10)


He took office after the death of Nasser and decides to take a new dimension on war against Israel. He pledged to make peace with Israel on a condition that they withdraw their troops. However, Israel refused to negotiate with Egypt since they perceived that Sadat’s offer was insincere. Israel was lured into the new peace deal but was later attacked by Sadat after sending his troops to Sinai, which caught them by surprise. The USSR had sold to Egypt modern equipments, which they used to attack Israel soldiers. Israel was however rescued by the military aid from the United States .Sadat later realized that the war with Israel cannot end and later embarked on rebuilding Egypt since they had mortgaged their cotton plantations to buy military equipments.

Sadat decided to embrace diplomatic strategies by announcing that he was ready to go to Israel to make peace and reclaimed Egyptian land, which was grabbed. Although the pronouncement sounded unbelievable to many, President Sadat went to Israel in 1977. Sadat’s imaginative realism made peace possible since Israelis Prime Minister Menehem Begin believed in the spirit of the great Israel saw a way of negotiating peace without engaging into war with Palestine or Israel. Interventions by the United States saw the signing of the peace deal between Israeli and Egypt a fact that made other Arab countries to boycott all activities initiated by Egypt.

This period witnessed a change in Egypt’s social, political and economic dynamics of Egypt. The private sector was allocated a largest share in controlling of the Egyptian economy through establishment of the open door policy.

Intellectuals in Egypt were not happy with its peace agreement with America and attacked Sadat’s government. He had shunned away from military dominated leadership to an economy-based approach. The politicians and other Egyptian scholars felt that Sadat was neutralizing the gains realized from the Egyptian revolution. In addition, Blaydes notes that Sadat was very corrupt in his dealings and was extravagant when it comes to the using of the state resources. Unfortunately, he was assassinated in October 1981 by the fanatics of the Muslim brotherhood during the commemoration of the Egyptian victory in the October war (40).


Hosni Mubarak

Mubarak took presidency after the death of Sadat and was rumored to be grooming his son to succeed him. Despite the pressure from other Arab states, Egypt under the leadership of Mubarak adhered to the treaty signed between Egypt and Israel. This earned Egypt a position as a key mediator in the war between Israel and Palestine a fact that made it to shade a bad name of making deals with Israel. Mubarak played a crucial role in development of Arab diplomatic initiatives to help bring peace in the Middle East (Soliman 12)

Although the human rights states in Egypt seem to improve since Nasser regime, Egyptians does not enjoy a full democratic society since the military always have the final say in affairs of the state. Those people who show dissatisfaction in the manner in which elections are handled like Saad  Eddin  Ibrahim often face long-term jails. In addition, Egypt is fighting religious radicalization and Muslim extremists who sympathizes with terrorism groups like Al-Qaeda.

Mubarak also established economic reforms, which championed the diversion of financial resources to investments in agriculture, industrialization and trade. The foreign policies in the Mubarak’s administration encouraged the broadening of the Egyptian market through establishment of new markets abroad. Egypt also joined forces with other world powers to stop saddam Hussein from invading Kuwait in 1991 thus forcing Iraq to withdraw its troops.

Dictatorship during the tenure of Mubarak made corruption to flourish. This is because his government gave him absolute power. He was the head of the ruling party, the commander of the forces and police, head of the supreme judicial council a fact that made him to use his powerful position to amerce wealth at the expense of the national development.

Blaydes notes that corruption in Egypt has turned into a social law that has been perceived to rule various spheres of the Egyptian society. Political corruption is the major form of the vice since it is the basis of various political crimes. This has been manifested inform of violation of freedoms of those people who are seen to hold different views to those of the government, distortion of anti corruption institutions, development of detention camps. Economic corruption has also been blamed for the deterioration of the Egyptian economy (40).

Egyptian government was administered with a mixture of the regime and beaurocratic.The bureaucratic were   technical staff that held lifelong positions regardless of the changes in the government. The regime on the other hand was characterized by those leaders in the elected position who remained in the power as long as there is stability in the government.

These differences in the management of the state paved way for both political corruption and which only happened occasionally and the bureaucratic corruption where the government lost huge amount of money on a daily basis. Citizens were forced to pay bribes or even give kick backs so as to access essential services in the hands of bureaucratic leaders a fact that cause revolt among the Egyptian youths. Grand corruption on the other hand was perpetrated by senior officials. For example, Mohamed Ibrahim who was the housing minister was tried for receiving bribes while he was in office. His presence in office while legal proceedings on corruption against him were on compromised the nature of the investigation as the he used his position to influence the ruling (Soliman 12).

When Mubarak was ousted from power together with his regime figures, the bureaucratic leaders remained untouched in their positions and no one in the Mubarak’s regime has been convicted a fact that left many people wondering if corruption really existed in Egypt.

A political transition in Egypt was characterized by institutionalization of the new economic and political systems. The process was always problematic due to differences between supreme council of the armed forces and the corrupt legacy left by the old regime. Although the revolution was primarily focusing on overthrowing the military regime, the SCAF managed to split the opposition be joining hands with the Islamic branch of the opposition. This saw the Egyptians to go for a referendum to enact the new constitution in 2012.The new constitution was biased towards Islamic ideologies, which were a threat to civil right societies and the women rights. However, Mursi was overthrown when he was celebrating his second anniversary, which saw the undermining of the Egyptian economy.

Empirical studies on forms of corruption in Egypt

Corruption is a major problem facing many countries in the world. Generally, corruption is regarded as the ability of a person to be compromised and abuse his power for personal benefits. Corruption plays a crucial role in undermining a countries economic development. Egypt is the largest state in the Arab league with an estimated population of 78 million. The level of unemployment is at 9% a fact that has made it one of the poorest countries among the Arab nations. The government was seen not to take keen steps to combat the vice, as there were no assessments or data on corruption index in Egypt. Leaders had immersed wealth. For instance, Blaydes notes that Mubarak and the family had amerced wealth worth $ 70 billion from corruption illegitimate business deals and kickbacks. The money was hidden in foreign banks in Switzerland and in local banks. The family had also invested in property. It was not realistic for the president to have such a large amount of wealth.

Although various initiatives were put in place to combat corruption under the tenure of Mubarak, very little results were realize. This is because the president had total control of all anti-corruption agencies. For instance, a corruption scandal where a state company was undervalued and sold to another company affiliated to Mubarak had little consequences on individuals who were involved in the corrupt deals.

The judiciary

Corruption in Egypt is handled by the Egyptian penal code after the ratification of the UN convention against corruption in the year 2005.However, Egypt does not have a legislation that prohibit bribing officials of the foreign governments explicitly. The law does not have provisions on how to deal with corruption activities committed by Egyptians abroad. This has provided a leeway for the Egyptians to engage in corrupt deals outside the country knowing that no sanctions will be made against them (Fisher &Stewart 40).

Facilitation fee

Another widespread for of corruption in Egypt was the payment of the facilitation fee for one to sign a government contract. The public accounting system is also faulted for lack of transparency. The state has set aside special budgets for state agencies, which give them power to spend extra money without necessarily accounting for the money. This has made the head of the institutions to enrich themselves. The central audit system does not make public their findings. Rather sends it directly to the president and head of the parliament. This act denies the public an opportunity to scrutinize the audit report since the corrupt officials get immunity from the state.

Privatization of government assets

Massive corruption has also been witnessed during the privatization of state owned properties. Lack of proper structure to carry out valuation of the property has given corrupt leaders a chance to undervalue some prime properties, which are targeted by companies affiliated to them.

Payment of government officials during licensing

A license from the government is important for onto conduct any business in Egypt be it acquisition of a license to import goods or registration of a business entity. It is not easy for one to access these essential services unless state officials are bribed. This was evident by many cases on corruption related to issuance of licenses. Poor pay among government officials has been blamed for this form of corruption since these officials have to engage in corrupt deals to supplement their pay.


Nepotism is another form of corruption in Egypt due to the nature of the tight knit family structures in the ancient Egyptian traditions. In the public arena, family connections play a key role in influencing the ability of one to get a plum job position in the government. The non-merit form of favourism has found its way into the banking sector where those officials and families of the ruling elites get access to huge financial lending facilities a fact that raises the percentage of the lending thus having a negative impact on the local citizen.

Parliamentary elections and democracy

Egyptian parliamentary election was so controversial that cause uproar and a legitimacy crisis with allegations of gross misconduct and fraud. Poor performance of the government and high level of corruption lead to the fall of the government thus creating a state of instability. The 2010 crisis was fueled by the clamor for political reforms by the Egyptian youth who complained for inequality and nepotism in the Mubarak’s government.

The existence of totalitarian regimes, which encouraged single party leadership, made corruption to flourish since there was no watchdog to monitor and criticize government activities. Although the Egyptian revolution saw establishment of multiparty system. All these initiatives were on paper since the new parties created had little influence and were even restricted to hold public rallies by the state machinery. In addition, the parties do not even have the powers to form a government even if they won an election. The government is constituted by the president’s appointees, a fact that can make these officials to resist any person who is not endorsed by the president (Soliman 12).


Corruption in Egypt has seen the country lose a lot of money to the ruling elite and high placed government officials. The act has seen made many Egyptians to lavish in poverty while the leaders keep stolen money in abroad instead of investing in the Egyptian economy. Bribery has also increased the cost of operating a business in Egypt a fact that has discouraged international investors.

Civil right groups and the youths have wedged protests against the government in order to bring change and sanity in the operations of the state in the recent past. These protests played a crucial role in overthrowing of the corrupt regime of Hosny Mubarak. During protests, the economy is hurt as people waste a lot of time demonstrating instead of building the nation. There is a great need for the Egyptian government to enact stringent legislations that will ensure that those who perpetrate the act are brought to book. Finally, cooperation and commitment between the citizens and the state can help in ending the vice by speaking openly about the effects of corruption on the economy.


Works Cited

Blaydes, Lisa. Election, and Distributive Politics in Mubarak’s Egypt. London: Cambridge

University Press, 2015. Print.

Fisher, Kirstern and Stewart, Robert. Transitional justice and the Arab Springs. New York:

Routledge, 2014. Print.

Soliman, Samer. The Autumn of Dictatorship: Foscal crisis and political change in Egypt

                     Under Mubarak. Stanford: Stanford University press. 2011. Print.