Bassem Al-Samragy: Why is the Egyptian Revolution stuck?

© Sarah Hassan
© Sarah Hassan

Bassem Al-Samragy studies political science at the American University in Cairo. The blogger’s and activist’s articles are published in the Al-Shorouk Newspaper. He has multiple connections with social movements in Egypt, which are also object of research from a political science perspective.

It is more than elections we are witnessing in Egypt since last month. Over the course of the revolution, it is one of the toughest battles, a battle which is taking place almost exclusively in the political arena and not in the socio-economic one. The reason for considering this battle the toughest is that it is not only a battle; it is the culmination of the steps being taken by all the political powers since the overthrow of Mubarak on February 11th 2011. Hence, today it is clearer than ever, that what is at stake is the position of the Army in the Egyptian State that is being reestablished. So the two conflicting parties are being consolidated to be the camp of militarization of the state and the camp of the demilita- rization. The militarization camp is supposed to be spearheaded by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), but in fact it is being managed by the class whose interests were tied with the old regime. The demili- tarization camp has happened to be under the leadership of the reformist Muslim Brotherhood (MB).

© almaryalyoum
© almaryalyoum

The results of the first round of the presidential elections, which brought Mohammed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik to the forefront, were very revealing as the former is the MB candidate while the latter was the leader of the Egyptian Air Force, the Minister of the civil aviation and the last Prime Minister under Mubarak subsequently. Although there is not enough proof that Shafik was the SCAF’s candidate, it is evident that he is supported by some of the powerful businessmen who used to be members of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP). In different areas of the country it was witnessed that the NDP alliances were not dissolved by the revolution. As the NDP alliances were extending their influence beyond the state and were infiltrating the society itself, they managed to reactivate themselves and use their resources to support Shafik’s election campaign.

The emergence of the two camps as such reveals the dilemma of the revolution, which hampered revolutionizing the political as well as the socio-economic field. It is unquestionable that the demilitarization is in favor of the revolution. However, the fact that this battle is being spearheaded by “reformists” wastes its revolutionary potentiality, transforming it to a process of negotiation with the SCAF that will inevitably not lead the revolution to any “real” changes and end somewhere in the middle of the process with some cosmetic changes.

Wasting the potentiality of the revolution has led to a time lag in the revolutionary political response to the movement of the masses, which has been manifested in many occasions, for example after the last session of Mubarak’s trial, in which he and the Minister of Interior, Habib El-Adly, were sentenced to lifetime verdict. However, El-Adly’s assis- tants, the former leaders of the most brutal police departments such as the state security, were set free, which triggered people’s anger. Consequently people filled the streets chanting and demonstrating. This was a very good chance for the upbeat of revolutionary politics, emer- ging from the movement of the people.  But once again politicians failed to propose a revolutionary political agenda reinforcing the movement. The problem of this small surge was that it took place after the first round of the elections and before the second ballot for which the MB was preparing. According to statements of the MB, the only solution is that Morsi defeats Shafik in the ballots and that the trials are taken up again. It is very consistent with the reformist nature of the MB to refuse “thinking out of the legitimacy box”, and it is true that they are orga- nized in a very powerful way - compared to the other revolutionary forces - through which they can push their agenda forward on the ground. In fact, this is the reason why the revolution is stuck; it is organizationless while the organized are revolutionless.

© aljazeera
© aljazeera

However, while writing this article, many sources pro- nounced the winning of Morsi by a very small margin. The first ones to proclaim the results were the MB them- selves. They got backing from their very active networks and they managed to collect the official documents from the judges and uploaded them online in order to avoid fraud. However, Shafik’s campaign responded to the MB’s announcement by claiming Shafik’s victory and by accusing the MB of deceiving the public.  

Regardless of the election results, the SCAF issued a constitutional declaration limiting the authority of the president to a minimum in favor of the SCAF itself. This happened after dissolving the parliament accor- ding to a suspicious constitutional court verdict on June 14th 2012. After the annunciation of the preliminary results, the MB announced that they oppose both, dissolving the parliament and the constitutional declara- tion, and consider them as two “vulgar” steps to militarize the state. A lot of people are supporting the MB in this battle.

Finally, the long waited results have been declared on June 24th. Around 4 pm the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) announced Morsi to be the first elected Egyptian President ever by 51.7% of the votes versus 48.3% for Shafik. However, it can be expect that the MB is negotiating with the SCAF now, using the support of the people to empower their negotiating position. At the end of the day, a kind of a mid-way solution between the MB and the SCAF will be reached but it will not be sustained and the struggle will continue for years with the potential of a second real wave of the revolution as a reaction to the expected failure of the new government. (25th June 2012)

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