Domestic Security and Failing Regimes
Have you noticed a trend concerning failing regimes and domestic security services? Whether it is Tunisia and Egypt in 2011, or Eastern Europe during the late 80s-early 90s, one pattern seems to recur.
The second day of a government-imposed curfew doesn’t deter thousands of demonstrators, who are essentially given free rein through the center of Cairo. For the most part, police are absent and protests in the downtown area are peaceful for much of Saturday.
Note: The police (domestic security) are always distinct from the army (mostly external security) in almost all large countries, throughout human history.
The pervasive domestic intelligence and security apparatus of failing regimes often abandons them once they sense imminent doom.
Now, there are some very practical reasons for doing so. Nobody wants to be killed or lynched for being a cop in the old failing regime. Many people talk about how the extensive security apparatus in western countries would prevent uprisings. However countries with very well-funded, repressive and large domestic intelligence/ law enforcement agencies cannot stop mass unrest, once it reaches a critical mass.
The law enforcement system in the USA and other western countries, prior to the 1980s, was generally seen as reasonable and not particularly venal. However ‘wars’ on drugs, terror and other fabricated scares have created systems every bit as repressive and unaccountable as those in failed totalitarian regimes. Of course, white hubris aka “it cannot happen to us” and “we are different” would deny it.
But denial does not affect reality, nor is it a river in Egypt (pun intended). You have seen a glimpse of the future. So don’t complain when things start going in that direction.
PS: In many ME countries, overall law enforcement and domestic intelligence are handled by one type of agency- Mukhabarat. While there may be many sub-divisions of civilian law enforcement, the overall mandate of such agencies is to perpetuate the regimes in power.