Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 04/2015

Missed Opportunity: The Politics of Police Reform in Egypt and Tunisia

Yezid Sayigh

March 2015

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Police forces and security agencies genuinely accountable to democratically elected civilian authorities have not emerged in either Egypt or Tunisia four years after popular uprisings forced the countries' longtime leaders from power. Ministries of interior remain black boxes with opaque decisionmaking processes, governed by officer networks that have resisted meaningful reform, financial transparency, and political oversight. Until governments reform their security sectors, rather than appease them, the culture of police impunity will deepen and democratic transition will remain impossible in Egypt and at risk in Tunisia.