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Editor’s letter: Egyptians between the two Gamals (4 of 5): Mubarak’s fall, just a beginning

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Maher Hamoud

Maher Hamoud

The accumulation of poverty and anger made Egypt seem like a nation left on the back burner that Mubarak and his business elite thought would never have to face. They believed, and even the people themselves did, that passivity is a dominant characteristic of Egyptians. Living in their fancy palaces and luxurious lifestyles within their gated communities, Egypt’s political elite did not see or understand the suffering of the average people. They simply did not see the explosion coming. They were all taken by surprise, as their political-security behaviour showed during the first eighteen days of the revolution.

The boiling angry nation was ready for a spark to explode. And it just happened. It was Khaled Said from a side and Mohamed Bouazizi from the other – a double-spark that hit the body of a nation at the right time and simply created a massive insistent will to topple the regime and its leader which had caused the people’s suffering. At least, this is what the protesters in 25 January thought of as their ultimate goal. The suffering and injustices they had been through had reached their peak and were ready to explode in the face of their oppressor.

Khaled Said, the young average Egyptian that was beaten to death by security, made the people feel they would not tolerate the regime’s brutality any longer, regardless of the real reason for anger, whether it was political, economic or maybe just human. Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia, by setting himself on fire at a moment of absolute frustration that led to toppling Bin Ali’s harsh dictatorship, made Egyptians believe “We can do it too”.

Hypothetically speaking, if we zoom out above all events since the beginning of 2011 until the present day and have a look around at today’s economic situation in relation to the people, would we see a change? The answer is quick and confident: No! Maybe a few changes have been made here and there concerning the slowly growing power of labour movements and factory workers, but it is still so far below aspirations. Actually, for the past 33 months following the fall of Mubarak, the head of a chronically diseased regime, other powers have taken over that are no less anti-poor than him and his business guards. The only two political powers that were ready to take over – The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) – have both made it very difficult on the people to reap the fruits of their sacrifices.

The SCAF, consisting of the pro-Mubarak military elite generals, has deceived the people and manipulated the revolutionaries by pretending to side with the revolution in the interests of self-preservation. They worked very hard on protecting the remaining structure of the political system with all its economic injustice as well, in which they share a significant portion of the Egyptian economy. They spent about 15 months in absolute power taking all chances to keep injustice in place with the public support of the power-hungry Islamists as their PR machine among the people.

The military-Islamist cooperation did not survive for long. The SCAF was not faithful to the agreement and was just using the Islamists to pass the transitional period with no significant restructuring, except for some cosmetic changes here and there just for media consumption. The conservative MB had its own ambition of being atop the Egyptian political pyramid. They did have their dream partially fulfilled for a year by having President Mohamed Morsi at the palace. An aggressive Brotherhoodisation process of taking over the country’s institutions was taking place. It started right after winning the presidential elections, when Morsi sacked Mubarak’s SCAF and replaced it with another quiet one that probably had the same stance of the one before. The difference could have been that they were just not as outspoken. To little surprise, the same economic injustice was the predominant factor. It might have even gotten stronger under the Brotherhood, given the group’s strong neoliberal ideologies and faith in the free market economy.

The IMF in turn had nothing to complain about for obvious reasons. First of all, it cannot afford losing Egypt as a political partner in the region. Second, whether it is the SCAF or the MB, they both serve the organisation’s goals and adopt their structural adjustment strategies and the enforcement of the free market economy through the same old strategy of the “carrot and stick”. As an agent of the global economic powers representing their interests in the region, the IMF always keeps a close eye on the political developments in post-Mubarak Egypt and insists on offering its “support” in the form of loans while depicting a disastrous and pessimistic future for the country, if its directions are not taken.

In a return to this series’ question of whether the revolution failed or not yet, given that so far the seven post-Mubarak governments in the past 33 months are still imprisoned in the same economic mentality of Mubarakonomics that has the same pro-rich practices, the answer is still confidently: no the revolution did not fail. And what we should be sure of is that a revolution has just started in 2011 as the beginning of a long bumpy path to take in order for the people to get hold of their economic rights and social justice from those dictating them, despite what appears today as massive manic support for the military and the return of Mubarak’s fascist security practices. It is definitely temporary in a revolutionary road that clearly seems to be a very long, difficult and fluctuating one.

… To be continued

About the author

Maher Hamoud

Maher Hamoud

Former Editor-in-Chief

Former Editor-in-Chief of The Daily News Egypt, and currently Media Politics Analyst. He can be followed on Twitter @MaherHamoud1, his public page on Facebook, or email: [email protected]

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