The Egyptian revolution has always oscillated between euphoria and despair. Today it finds itself at the latter end of that spectrum.
As the third anniversary opened the old wounds, it’s important to recall what actually happened to set the record straight.
The rot was old and deep and all the signs of a failed state were writ large on the map of Egypt. Only a fool could have believed that a country with such high poverty and illiteracy rates would become a democracy any time soon. Not to mention a predominantly obscurantist understanding of religion and it’s role in society, which remains to this day a major obstacle to social and political progress.
In fact, the historic 18 days between 25 of Jan and 11 of Feb 2011 has only succeeded in decapitating the Mubarak regime. The rest is still with us.
Those who speak of the second wave of the revolution on 30/6/2013 that toppled the Muslim Brothers president as a counter–revolution has bought into the self-serving narrative of the Muslim Brothers : the revolution has succeeded, the people voted the MB into power, then there was a counter revolution that toppled Mohamed Mursi.
In fact, the forces of the counter revolution were at work from day one, and foremost among them was the Muslim Brothers itself. By virtue of its totalitarian ideology and the known facts – the MB is the very opposite of what the people of Egypt rose up for. The Egyptians did not revolt to recover a supposedly lost Islamic identity , but they did so “for bread, freedom and dignity” The MB’s totalitarian religious ideology is the antithesis of freedom, and there can be no human dignity without individual liberty enshrined in law. The multimillionaires who poured money into the MB’s coffers to buy the vote of the gullible and the poor would have replaced the fat cats of the Mubarak era.
Immediately after the fall of Mubarak, the youth staged an unprecedented action of civic awareness that stunned everyone: to demonstrate their love for their country and their commitment to change society, they formed local action groups to clean and decorate the streets of their rubbish-ridden city. While they were doing that the MB delivered their first stab to this revolutionary idealism.
The MB leaders were busy cutting a secret deal with the military to adopt a road map that was opposed by all the revolutionary forces. It was this road map that rushed Egypt into elections under the false promise of return to stability and prosperity : all the votes held under that road map brought nothing but instability and turmoil.
Alternative road maps (that could have put Egypt on a different trajectory) were fiercely resisted by the MB and their erstwhile allies : the military. Both rejected a transitional period of two years to prepare a draft constitution to be followed by parliamentary then presidential elections. That would have been similar to the more sensible path followed by Tunisia, which as time has shown was a far more reasonable and pragmatic course.
Instead the pace of the transition was forced into a back-to-front sequencing under the false pretext of delivering stability. As it turned out, it delivered instability and violence at every turn. History will recall that the revolutionary youth staged the uprising that toppled Mubarak, and the MB spearheaded the counter revolution aided in that by the military who wanted to salvage as much as possible of the old regime.
Today the Muslim Brothers and the Mubarakistas have a lot in common, more than they will ever admit. Both want to turn the clock back. Both denounce the revolution as a foreign conspiracy. The MB considers the second wave of the revolution that toppled their man as a plot backed by Washington, Israel and the Gulf states. The Mubarakistas still maintain that the Jan 25 uprising was the work of the strangest of allies: Hamas, US, Israel and Iran. Can there be more deranged people in denial of reality!
But the current gloom is not only the result of the Muslim Brothers as a counter revolutionary force, it is also the fault of the revolutionary youths themselves, who to this day have failed to coalesce into any cohesive political organisation that connects with the wider masses. High on Tahrir Square adrenaline , they never managed to climb down and begin the boring and dull work of building bridges with the rest of the country. Blinded by initial success and the limelight, their arrogance and self-indulgence prevented them from seeing the necessity of fanning out to Egypt’s towns and villages to win the confidence of the masses whom they claim to represent; to explain to them why the revolution was such a good idea, and that it was in every one’s interest.
Instead, the field was left to the machinations of the counter revolution : the MB and , as future elections will soon show , the old networks of Mubarak’s defunct and corrupt NDP.
The challenges facing the revolution now are enormous. It cannot fight on two fronts at the same time : the pernicious ideology of the MB and it’s rear guard manoeuvres to come back, and the “Mubarakistas” who have regrouped and are trying to recreate the corrupt and brutal police state of the old patriarch. It should try to benefit from any damage inflicted upon the organisational capacity of the MB. At the same time, it should thwart any attempt by the MB to reap the fruit of any gains from the battle against the old regime. This requires focus and great tactical skills.
The third chapter of the Egyptian revolution is about to begin.
(This piece was written fro IslamistGate http://www.islamistgate.com/407 )