This a one of those nice building-block words, so prevalent in the German language. It comes to mind frequently, when consuming news.
Dictionary definition of each element: Staat is state/government/authorities; gewalt can be power/jurisdiction/control, but also force/violence.
The situation in Egypt displays all permutations of meaning inherent in this word. Various forms of government jurisdiction are discernible; some are not, for whatever reason (conscious decision, incompetence, slot, etc.). That the government is capable of violence against the people it should govern is also clearly evident.
There are enough examples of citizens in various countries (despotic and democratic) being abused by government, whose only interest is self-interest...as defined by those in power and then sold as the "will of the people". The word "mandate" is often heard.
Films, such as V for Vendetta, or books, such as Millenium Trilogy, illustrate the prevalence of Staatsgewalt and its acceptance by average people. One individual, who has come to understand this principle, is a man named Bradley Manning. He upset the powers that be an is feeling the full weight of their power. Anyone having enjoyed the pleasure of "extraordinary rendition" understands its scope.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.