Egypt in its next phase of a revolutionary episode

Skyline of Cairo

Skyline of Cairo – seems never-ending…

Earlier this year I’d written both about Egypt’s revolutionary episode and on Jack Goldstone’s theory of revolutions, as well as a post combining the theory to Egypt’s developments. In the third of these posts, I argued that Egypt’s revolutionary episode is in the phase of ‘further polarisation’ and ‘counter-revolution’,

Whether there have been some signs of counterrevolutionary sentiments in recent months is a matter of interpretation. One could argue that Morsi’s November decree, where he decided that he can “take the necessary actions and measures to protect the country and the goals of the revolution,” is a sort of counter-revolution against the revolution he so proudly states he wishes to uphold. The more one is persuaded to think that the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood aims to consolidate power, the more one would be tempted to argue that they are/have been waging a counter-revolution for the sake, not of democracy, but of establishing an Islamist state. This has reinforced the secularists and liberals to stand against the constitution that has been passed late December 2012.

I was loosely interpreting the concept of counter-revolution. However, in the current environment Egypt is in – with the Egyptian military posing an ultimatum to Morsi to get things straight, we are truly in a counter-revolutionary phase of Egypt’s fragile revolution. A return to military leadership would de-democratise Egypt quicker than imaginable. On the other hand, Morsi’s attitude, strangely similar to absolutism, for an outsider, isn’t ‘democratic’ either, unless you limit the interpretation of the term democracy as to mean only free parliamentary and presidential elections, and disregard the rest of the ‘will of the people idea’.

A question which tends to trouble me is how can revolutions have a good ending (in the Middle East)? The recent revolutionary episodes in the Middle East show us that there are large differences in how the different people in for example Egypt or Tunisia would like to see the country develop. There are groups who would like to see their country develop into a modernised and secular state, while others would like to see a modernised yet quasi-theocratic government, potentially basing legislation on the Quran and, more importantly, hadith – the lessons from Muhammad’s statements and acts. It seems that if one ‘party’/group wins the formal elections, there is a tendency to more too strongly towards the ideals of that party. The unrest in Egypt is a good example for this – establishing a constitutional committee consisting primarily out of ‘Islamists’, will not heed well for the people with a less religiously-inclined daily life. What lies ahead remains to be seem, yet Egypt is a populous and historically important regional actor, and is, wanted or unwanted, an ‘experiment’ for the wider region.

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2 thoughts on “Egypt in its next phase of a revolutionary episode

  1. You missed the counter-revolution after Mubarak resigned, I suspect – with the possible exception of the odd and failed appointment of Essam Sharraf.

    The military’s initial direct leadership was characterized by a broad counter-revolution that began with Mubarak’s appointments of Suleiman and Shafiq. The former was a joke in that regard; but the latter obviously was credible enough to take almost half the vote a year later. The army’s final Prime Minister was Kamal Ganzouri, who had been a PM under Mubarak as well.

    • I am aware of the clouded political manoeuvres of Mubarak and the SCAF, and you might be right in the regard that I failed to add this counter-revolution, but I rather see that as being part of the whole chaos and uncertainty that the formal overthrow of Mubarak brought about. There was no clarity as to where the country as a whole would be heading towards, so I consider it more as a possible result of the revolution then as a counter-revolution.

      Thanks for your thoughts. I will be following your blog. You seem to be very well-informed.

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