The Revolution Won. What's Next?
By Nidal Sakr
It has been about three weeks since the start of the Egyptian Revolution, and less than a week since the ouster announcement of Egyptian Dictator Husni Mubarak on the night of Friday, February 11, 2011.
In fact, the Egyptian Revolution will undoubtedly prove to be the most historical event of our time, if not for generations to come. Conduct of the revolution has already written a new chapter in the political science of revolutions like no other. And the “Shock and Awe” effect the revolution caused in political and decision-making circles will remain for some time as well. But should the Egyptian Revolution come as such a surprise? Not at All!!!
On May 30, 2010 at a meeting in Doha with senior US State Department officials, I confirmed that fundamental change was imminent in Egypt before year-end. Nonetheless, I must admit that we were all caught by surprise if not for the event itself, then at least for the way it was conducted.
Since the break of the “Egyptian Intifadah,” as many youth like to call it, the US has faced challenges on how to deal with it. That explains the reluctance and confusion in US announcements with regard to its political stand in terms of extent of US support to the falling regime or the “Intifadah.”
However, it is clear that the US verdict on the demise of the Mubarak regime was made as early as Saturday, January 29, 2011, pending emergence of alternative political leadership. The Egyptian Revolution is one of a kind, perhaps more so in the sense that it does not have a representative or leadership figure. Nonetheless, the revolution was carried out with such diligence and particularity that one can never imagine how all such facts may be reconciled.
The absolute grass root nature of the Egyptian Revolution represents the biggest challenge facing both Egyptian and US decision makers, and media as well.
However, representation of the political project of the revolution could not have been any more precise or articulate. The collective popular will in removing the dictator and traces of his regime were crystal clear, as stated in the revolution’s central call: “People Want Removal of the Regime.”
Further details of the political project of the revolution could be easily observed in other chants and signs throughout the revolution. And if that were not enough, numerous signs appeared, some as high as ten-story buildings, spelling out the specific demands of the transitionary political project.
Insisting on personalizing the revolution is the biggest mistake the Egyptian military transitionary authority and some US media outlets have fallen into.
Since the break of revolution, Egyptian military has had a hard time finding political replacement to the falling dictator, which explains the reluctance in the US’s position. Lack of such political alternative to fill the void in leadership was apparently the reason why the Egyptian Military had no choice but to take over following the fall of Mubarak, after giving Mubarak repeated chances to contain the uprising, but to no avail.
Since taking over, the Military Supreme Council has announced some reforms that meet protesters’ demands. However, two key demands are yet to be met - lifting emergency law and the release of political prisoners. Furthermore, some cabinet ministers marred either by corruption or incompetence still need to be ousted – such as the petroleum minister and the foreign minister.
Since Mubarak’s ouster, numerous protests have been held by various groups of officers, government employees, and a few of the revolution protesters. Such new, smaller revolutions all represent major challenges facing the military authority as they work to restore normalcy to Egyptian Life.
Perhaps what is most intriguing about the Egyptian Revolution is the deep love youth of the revolution have for their country and for their fellow countrymen. Youth were particularly careful not to insult or humiliate the regime thugs they captured, are taking an active part in cleaning up and restoring order, and have been acting as community police to prevent chaos and mayhem.
This coming Friday, the 18th of February, Egypt will celebrate its martyrs of freedom, the 300+ who died during the revolution. Should the revolution’s major demands be met before then, the celebration will also include paying tribute to the Egyptian Military, which remained mostly neutral during the uprising. But perhaps what is most intriguing is the increasing likelihood of the event serving as a launch pad to rekindle the new Egyptian spirit, and to introduce the “new Egyptian” who will build Egypt’s “new civilization.”