Egypt Two Years On

This hand out picture released by the Egyptian Presidency shows Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi visiting one of the victims of the train crash, at a military hospital in Cairo, on 15 January 2013. (Photo: AFP -/HO Egyptian Presidency)

By: Ibrahim al-Amin

Published Friday, January 25, 2013

History books will cite January 25 as the moment of undoing for the dictatorial rule of Mohammad Hosni Mubarak. What we don’t know is what will be said about the scale of the change brought about by the uprising.

It is impossible to make confident predictions at present. Questions only raise more doubts as to the ability of Egypt’s new rulers to bring about major change. But as social theorist Samir Amin points out: “The Egyptian people are brave and will not be afraid to start a second and a third uprising.”

The events of the past two years prove that Amin’s assessment is realistic. The ongoing struggle over Egypt is the clearest sign that the country’s new rulers have not managed to establish a strong enough hold to last as long as their predecessors.

A formidable media machine continues in its efforts to restrict the Egyptian people’s uprising. Many people inside and outside Egypt wanted to persuade the masses that the underlying goals of their protest movement could be reduced to a mere change of president. These people have assumed powerful influence within the state’s institutions and seek to re-establish their control over the public and private sectors of the economy. They want Egypt and the Arabs to behave as though change has been accomplished.

This takes us back to Amin, who noted the menace posed by foreign powers in Egypt. He referred to a cooperative endeavor by the US, Israel, and Gulf states to ensure Egypt’s continued reliance on a policy of “begging from abroad” so as to better maintain its “assistance for US policies in the region.”

He observed that while “Mubarak’s Egypt supported the US invasion of Iraq...today’s Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood assists the policies on Syria.” The end goal is for Egypt to acquiesce “to the Zionist scheme to eliminate the Palestinian presence within the occupied territory.”

There is no need to repeat Amin’s views on economic policy. The evidence that Egypt’s new rulers are resuming past economic policies is overwhelming. There will be no change in how the country’s economic, social, financial, and monetary policies are shaped. Hence the cruel joke that “Khairat el-Shater is Gamal Mubarak with a beard.”

Nobody can deny the Egyptian people’s massive achievement in bringing down a corrupt and tyrannical ruling clique that was subservient to the colonial West and submissive to the Zionist enterprise. But the story doesn’t end with the Muslim Brotherhood winning a narrow majority at the polls and claiming legitimacy to do what it likes with the country. Whatever misgivings there may be about the condition of the new opposition in Egypt, it has tough questions to face.

– What became of the legacy of Mubarak’s rule? What does the Islamic mantle mean when it is donned by rulers who pursue the same policies that they once said caused poverty, ignorance, and misery?

– Freedom of expression cannot be deemed a gift from the country’s new rulers. Egyptians are demanding guarantees that the gains made so far are not reversed. Can we expect a rotation of power in a few years time? Will Egypt’s new rulers help to recover its unified national identity, or will we see more ugly images of sectarian divisions?

– What real change has there been in the country’s foreign policy? What role does it play in reviving collective Arab action? Or has that been surrendered to the medieval monarchies of the Gulf? Is Egypt acting to regain its rights, sovereignty, and freedom with regard to supporting the people of Palestine?

– Can anyone provide any evidence that the money stolen by the National Democratic Party under Mubarak and his clique is being recovered? Or is the looted national wealth merely passing from one regime to the next?

Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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