Egypt’s Revolution – Wave 2

November 19th 2011 will be marked as one of the revolutionary days of 2011 in Egypt. Although the revolution appeared to have ended on February 11th with the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, there have been a series of events since then that have revealed the continuous and on-going nature of the Egyptian revolution. The revolutionary process did not end; it is still happening. Since the resignation of Mubarak, events such as the Tahrir sit-in, the Israeli embassy protests, and the various violent confrontations between the police, military and protesters show that the demands of the revolution have not been met and that the transition process has not gone as swiftly or as smoothly as expected.

Friday the 19th saw a major protest in Tahrir Square against a clause in the new constitution that gives the military immunity under the law.  The protest, which drew thousands, was attacked violently by the military police as well as the central security forces.  These attacks, which led to several deaths and scores of injuries, led tot thousands joining those under attack in the Square.  The confrontation continued for three days.  By Monday the 22nd, more than 1,500 were injured and more than 35 had lost their lives.  SCAF released a statement confirming its full support of the Interior Ministry and police forces.  Activists called for a million-man march on Tuesday, and by noon Tahrir was already filling up steadily, despite it being a working day.  The demands of the protesters were simple: the resignation of SCAF, the transition to civilian rule, and the fulfilment of demands made during the January 25th uprising, including dignity, social justice, bread, and an end to police brutality and military trials for civilians.

Less than one year after the January 25th uprising, the Egyptian people have risen up again.  There is a widespread sentiment that SCAF did not do what it had said it would, and that behind the scenes they were trying to monopolize power and keep Mubarak’s system in place. The economy has been declining steadily, and as usual, it is the poor working class who suffers the most.  In addition the military has slowly strengthened its grasp on Egyptian society.  In March they were accused of conducing “virginity tests” on female protesters, as well as torturing detainees.  Since January they have put more than 15,000 Egyptians on military trials.  The lines between SCAF and the Mubarak regime have become increasingly blurred.  Their actions and the slow speed of reforms have led to a situation where anger was steadily building up.  The violent attacks on protesters on November 19th were the final straw.

The past few days have seen an increase in the violence. It has become clear that the police AND the military are complicit in attacking protesters. SCAF issues a statement saying it is sorry for the killing, while at the same time denying their responsibility (errrr). They have also appointed a new Prime Minister, Ganzoury, who was actually a minister under Mubarak (ERRRR). Clearly SCAF haven’t learnt much.

But are they really that stupid? Or are they playing a game we just don’t know about? Also what is the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in all of this? Did they plan these clashes so that they would win a majority in the elections and therefore control the country legitimately? Or are they being screwed over by SCAF just like the rest of us?

What is so fascinating about this revolution is the fact that no one really knows what will happen or what is happening.

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14 thoughts on “Egypt’s Revolution – Wave 2

  1. Omar

    Nice summary of the situation and events for the past few days. As you indicated, the revolution is indeed unpredictable, but the determination of the people which was the result of the betrayal of SCAF will definitely, in my opinion, change direction for the better. This is all not to understate the importance of elections (especially for expats like us with the first opportunity to vote, probably ever). As a history geek I would kindly ask you to revise the dates you mentioned 😉

      1. Omar

        Well to start with, my observation is that Egyptians have been betrayed in every possible way. We all had some degree of trust in SCAF (even if very little) when they promised that they would respect the demands of the people and turn a new leaf. (They also betrayed our brothers and sisters in Libya and compelled them, unfortunately, to request the help of the colonial powers (NATO), although, in my opinion, the Egyptian army could have overthrown the regime in Libya single-handedly…but thats another story) Currently, SCAF are still using the same ‘child-psychology for dummies handbook’ they’ve always used and think they’ll get away with it this time round. Dont think it’ll work this time. That said, It’ll depend on the determination of the people in Tahrir and every other city in Egypt to stand as united as possible, notwithstanding the elections and Parliament that, in any case, wont show up till early next year. Lucifer SCAF will most probably at some point in the next few days concede to the demands of the people in giving the new government full powers that were denyed to E. Sharaf, but are not likely to accept the idea of a civil or judicial council yet until virtually all the politicians and political parties/groups including the MB demand it on behalf of the people (a bit far fetched, I have to confess but possible). As mentioned above, the situation is quite unpredictable, so all we can do now is to hope people on the ground carry on the good work and for the elections to bring about a strong Parliament that, though denied actual involvement in forming a government even before its inception, will decide to chuck off the chains and have the confidence to defy SCAF. If SCAF doesnt budge, then they would be defying the will of the people represented by Parliament and you’ll be writing about about a third wave of the Egyptian revolution. Call me Dr. Pangloss, but I’m quite optimistic and I’m also counting on the recent maturity of Egyptians and the death of Apathy that died on Jan 25.

    1. Omar

      Yes, for the first 8, then went to Egypt for 2 decades, then came back for a few postgrad legal studies for the last 3.A bit of travelling and trying to get the best of all possible worlds!

  2. Really interesting! So you see voting as a way to bring about some kind of change? I’m torn on this issue. On the one hand, I think voting is just legitimizing a system that will continue to oppress us, and is meaningless because the revolution is not complete. On the other hand, voting could be the only option we have now of getting rid of SCAF through the system itself. What are your thoughts?

    You know, I never thought of the fact that the Egyptian military could have gotten rid of Gaddafi by itself! That is so true, and quite painful that there was a pretext for western intervention because Arabs refused to act. Wow.

    1. Omar

      Well, if you believe that the Arab Spring (to use the most recent Orientalist term) was about democracy and human rights (in the wide usage of the term which includes individual and social rights not just the basic), then one can conclude that voting is an essential part of the revolution. The Egyptian revolution did not start to conclude or be completed at a certain point in time, but its values will remain hovering over the skies of Egypt for a long time just as much as the values of the French revolution in 1789 remain an essential part of French culture, and you can see how the French have had their highs and lows since that time. Furthermore by voting for a new Parliament we are not legitimising SCAF, but are actually legitimising a representative body that can feel confident enough to bring those rev values into proper implementation. A sovereign Parliament can do many things apart from choose a constitutional assembly, such as decide to elect a new government and accept or veto any decision from SCAF, until a constitution is written and president is elected. The sovereignty of Parliament must not be underestimated one bit notwithstanding any constitutional declaration due to the fact that the will of the people is defined in that assembly. Also, any attack on that sovereignty is an attack on the people that voted for it, and wont make the people very happy. Again, our participation (and I’ve already voted) is a symbolic response, not only to SCAF but also to every person that doubted that our intention on serious democracy. To conclude, we are in the best of possible circs at this moment in time and that there is more than meets the eye from a sovereign Parliament perspective. Thats my POV in a nutshell (!).

  3. Also I am worried about over-stating the impact of Tahrir. How many Egyptians have changed their views of SCAF, I wonder? During the revolution many made the mistake of thinking Cairo is Egypt, when in fact many Egyptians were not necessarily pro-the revolution.

    1. Omar

      I suppose this issue has been debated since the start of the revolution. Ive always considered Tahrir (and every other Tahrir in Egypt) some sort of popular parliament par excellence that had the determination and initiative to speak on behalf of the majority. The ousting of Mubarak and all the other goals of the rev (even if not properly executed/completed) is a result of Tahrir and therefore cant be underestimated. The majority always go with the flow and prefer peaceful transitions which is in contrast to ‘revolution’ in the first place. So at the end of the day, Tahrir, as a movement really depens on the intensity of the issue and the numbers there.

  4. “By voting for a new Parliament we are not legitimising SCAF, but are actually legitimising a representative body that can feel confident enough to bring those rev values into proper implementation.”

    This is where I have my doubts. Will this body bring about rev values, or have they already struck a deal with SCAF and other power players (including external ones) to continue the regime under the guise of dictatorship? Moreover, this would be completely legitimate because of the large turnout of voters.

    My issue is that these elections have been carried out by SCAF, a body that is responsible for more than 100 deaths in the past few weeks.

    But maybe none of this matters since this parliament will only exist for 6 months until presidential elections. But at this point what worries me is people’s acceptance of SCAF, when clearly it is a major aspect of the counter-revolution. Yes, most people I know and most people in Tahrir are anti-SCAF, but is this the case country-wide?

    I am against voting in general because I don’t believe that the way to real change is through the system and institutions that oppress us. And this goes for all countries. I don’t believe voting in the Netherlands makes a difference either. But the elections happening now in Egypt made me question my stance and that’s why I asked what your views on it are. I’m still confused to be honest.

    Sorry for the rambling, hehe.

  5. Omar

    Well we seem to come from different schools of thought regarding the institution of Parliament and change through the ballot box. I believe its done very well for European, American and Asian countries that have already tried it. SCAF are not only responsible for the deaths of protesters but for a whole range of things since the revolution such as virginity tests and military trials and so forth. Also, whether or not they’ve struck a deal with SCAF, deals are sometimes broken when people are in power especially in the middle of a popular revolution with an excited public. We shall see how it turns out and everyone is uncertain about the outcome of elections. To quote Voltaire, doubt is an unpleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. (BTW, its your blog and may you ramble on as much as you like 😉 )

    1. Yes I think my views on this stem from believing we don’t need states and therefore parliaments. I wouldn’t say the parliamentary system has worked for America, where its all about private sponsorship and so not really representative of anyone except corporations and the rich, as well as powerful lobbies such as the Israel lobby AIPAC.

      “Deals are sometimes broken when people are in power especially in the middle of a popular revolution with an excited public.”

      This is definitely one scenario following these parliamentary elections. I’ve heard many people say the MB have been screwed over time and time again by the military, since Nasser, but that doesn’t mean it will keep happening forever. It could go the other way too.

      By the way, are you on twitter or FB by any chance?

  6. Omar

    Well I personally cant remember ever being an international anarchist (sorry if I gave that impression) or taking seriously the possibility of a world where humans were selfless beings but I do believe that we should always break down the barriers of prejudice, racism and discrimination and that alone could bring cultures and nations together. What renders a system rotten in my POV is shoving something down our throats like all dictatorships do (but which also happens in the US to a certain degree), and not giving one a free choice on the matter. Also, a lot of defects in a system doesnt render the system itself a bad thing without the possibility of change (which could be radical when necessary). Yes, there are times when a system is basically rotten to the core and defies any adjustment like Mubaraks regime (which was/is somewhat an extension of Sadat and Nasser), but that was because it was rotten from its inception. As you probably know, the colonial powers (with exceptions) never left a colony or ended a military occupation unless the worst elements of that former colony were in power. They understand very well that a dictatorship with absolute power corrupts absolutely and always fails in the end however much it tries to hold on. We shall have to wait and see how things go on in the coming weeks, and as mentioned before, we are no longer an apathetic people, i.e those in power whether democratically elected or not, no longer have the privilege of ignoring the demands of the people and getting away with it.

    I’m on Twitter (omarlatif80 following u btw), but not very active I’m afraid, which I suppose is the result of following the news most of the time and also far too many people!!

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