Where will the hidden struggle lead between Egypt’s democracy supporters and members of the old regime?

Farid Zahran
10 Min Read
Farid Zahran
Farid Zahran
Farid Zahran

It is no longer a secret that the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood came as the result of an unannounced, strategic partnership between Egypt’s democracy forces and supporters of the old regime, (i.e. supporters of Hosni Mubarak, Gamal Abd el-Nasser and Muhammed Ali). This partnership did not possess long term goals, as those from the latter sought, by overthrowing the Brotherhood, to reestablish what they view as a just-dictatorship. In their view, only through such a system could Egypt be rebuilt as a strong, influential state, with true democracy meanwhile being seen as a system which would eventually weaken the state and lead to its dissolution.  Supporters of the old regime include a large swath of people, among them those who would seek to establish a “false” democracy, which would be used as a means of putting a positive face on an otherwise tyrannical system.  There are others among this group who view democracy as important and significant, however feel that the Egyptian people are currently unprepared and not ready to adopt such a system, due to widespread poverty and ignorance which would allow politicians to essentially buy loyalty from such citizens.

The term “supporters of the old regime” encompasses many different strands of people, and includes those who would seek to present an edited version of the notion of “just dictatorship”, which seeks to incorporate some elements of democracy into a prevailing governing system. However despite this, we can say with total confidence that supporters of the old regime, at the very least, are not confident in democracy, and feel that political diversity will chip away at the power of the state. Others go farther and doubt the very feasibility of the democratic system itself, based on the belief that governments require strong leaders who can make quick decisions in the interest of the state without having to engage in much debate.

What further distinguishes supporters of the old regime are their beliefs regarding the role of the state and its necessity to administer all of the country’s political, economic, social and cultural affairs. If we combine this with their hostility towards democracy, it becomes clear that the only way to create a system which can quickly implement the decisions of its leader is to create a strong, bureaucratic ruling class, where a person’s status is determined by their job rank. High ranking bureaucrats will exercise their power through their immediate subordinates over whom they have total control. Such a system can be labeled as an oligarchy or ruling junta, which doesn’t just rule over state agencies and institutions, but also controls the country’s economy in addition to its cultural and media outlets.

Those within this ruling class will seek to invest what they obtain from their position within the bureaucracy into the economy, doing so either themselves or through their children. If familial succession becomes unfeasible, as it largely has by now, such individuals will seek to invest what they obtain through government service into the private sector. That being said, this class will very likely seek to strengthen the private sector, which, without their involvement, might otherwise have served as a competing force against those serving within government.

Supporters of the old regime have already decided not to rely on democracy as a means of administering the country’s affairs, and to instead take advantage of Egypt’s political vacuum and lack of security to rebuild a repressive regime. As stated before, such supporters will seek to implement symbolic change as a means of putting a positive face on such a regime, however such attempts will be largely unsuccessful, as it will eventually become painfully clear due to the lack of credible opposition figures and political parties that such a system is a farce.

Supporters of the old regime will seek to obtain a monopoly on power, while at the same time attempting to convey the appearance of democracy to the outside world. They will take advantage of those enthusiastic youth who, despite having little experience, seek to take part in the country’s political life. In their attempt to monopolize power, they will further rely on widespread popular discontent with politicians and their policies which have helped spread instability and chaos throughout the country. However in this endeavor they will not blame the Mubarak regime or its supporters, or the Muslim Brotherhood whose policies helped create the chaos and instability that we currently see, or even the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF) who ruled the country previously.

This gutting of the country’s political system will inevitably lead the country’s security apparatuses to fill the void soon to be present within Egyptian society. When attempting to combat the rise of Muslim Brotherhood supported student body candidates before the January 25th revolution for example, due to the lack of alternative viable candidates, the burden fell on the country’s security forces to de-list candidates of the former, and allow those who were loyal to them to plunder student body funds in exchange for implementing the orders and directives of security forces. In this way, corruption becomes a crucial tool in the implementation and creation of a security state.

This brings back into focus that which we discussed at the beginning of the article: Those who brought down the Brotherhood, and their mixed composition between members of the old regime and Egypt’s democracy supporters.

These two groups did not coordinate their activities directly or indirectly, either behind the scenes or on the ground, except with regards to one goal, which was to bring down the Brotherhood regime. It’s notable to point out that members of the old regime during this time were content in not seeking to control the political scene during the lead up to Morsi’s ouster, seeking instead to simply contribute to efforts already underway. This was done in order to avoid creating the image that members of the old regime remained in positions of power, allowing instead for the country’s youth and democracy supporters to appear in control of the political scene. This is despite the fact that the former possessed total control in certain provinces and regions throughout the country. This type of maneuvering was necessary as supporters of the old regime were aware of the fact that they did not enjoy widespread popular support. However now that the Brotherhood has been removed, and Sisi’s popularity having become sweeping based on the belief that it was he who was responsible for the removal of the former, some supporters of the old regime have begun to call for Sisi to begin ruling the country, and to in turn eradicate Egypt’s democracy supporters. All of this is a clear attempt to reconstruct the old regime, which, despite the circumstances under which it may be created, will inevitably transform into a new form of corrupt tyranny. Such a state will be marketed as one which is able to combat and remove the Brotherhood and spread peace and stability throughout the country.

Taking into account all that has been said, several questions come to mind: has such maneuvering been successful in influencing the position of the country’s ruling elite? Where does Sisi stand in relation to all this? Does he stand behind members of the old regime, fending off their enemies, and in particular the Muslim Brotherhood? Or does he not seek to obtain power, as those around him claim? What can Egypt’s democracy supporters do in such a scenario? With God’s permission, these questions will be answered in the following article.

Share This Article
Farid Zahran is a publisher and writer. He is the co-founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party