As 30 June looms ahead, and with Egyptians in overdrive to rally support for their respective causes, a number of questions beg unambiguous, definitive answers. Why, in specific is the rebellion?
Against who? What could happen on 30 June? And, more important, what next?
If these questions go unanswered, we risk taking Egypt into a political quagmire that would lead to nowhere.
Living through a nightmare
As any observer of the Egyptian scene cannot fail to see, Egyptians have been in a state of rebellion ever since the January 2011 Revolution. The revolution in itself was an act of rebellion; the revolutionists were rebelling against a sum total of events and situations in Egypt that warranted all the sacrifices they willingly offered.
But rebellion never stopped once the ‘revolution’ was over. At this point I would like to express reservations at terming the 18-day demonstrations that ended with the stepping down of Mubarak a “revolution”; technically and according to political science standards, it cannot be termed as such. Anyway, with Egypt living through non-stop rebellion since January 2011, why is the upcoming 30 June rebellion seen as the Egyptian apocalypse?
The answer lies in the absence of any effective Egyptian opposition movement to reckon with; Egypt’s fragmented opposition groups have failed to meld into one substantial bloc.
Second, the ruling regime’s failure to answer the basic needs of the masses has sharply raised the general discontent. Egyptians, whose community had always enjoyed a legendary level of security and social peace, today have to live with the abysmal breakdown in security that makes crime a flagrant day in day out reality. And it doesn’t help that there is no rule of law to speak of. Power outages have become the order of the day, and prices are spiralling beyond control; families have to do without some very basic needs. And with the regime failing miserably at handling international problems such as the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam which directly threatens Egypt’s lifeblood water supply, Egyptians are living a nightmare they cannot shake off.
To compound matters, the revolutionist youth who worked so hard since 2011 to bring about change to Egypt feel their hopes have been dashed, and their dedicated efforts have only played into the hands of the Islamists.
These youth are today working to topple an elected president who has been one year in office. But, and apart from whether or not they see him as ‘democratically’ elected, there is nothing in the constitution that allows for the dismissal of a president through gathering signatures that call for his departure. So we are before a situation that has no legal backing, no matter the number of signatures; they can only serve to reflect how momentous the discontent is, and possibly lend legitimacy to later consequences.
I believe we can safely describe what is expected on 30 June as the third wave of an attempted revolution; the first wave succeeded in toppling Mubarak, and the second in dismissing military rule. And, just as the first two waves involved violent conflict, the third is also expected to be violent, possibly more so than ever before.
This should now bring us to the crucial: what then? I believe any analyst who falls into the trap of attempting to predict what comes next would be at a total loss. At best, various scenarios may be drawn.
The first is what I call the surprise scenario, in the sense that millions of Tamarud demonstrators would take to the streets and achieve their objective. But their numbers will not go up to the 15 million or so who have signed the Tamarud document. It is one thing to sign a paper and quite another to take to the streets. In all cases, and in view of the immense public wrath, the number of protestors will in no way be small; it may even be sufficiently large to topple Mursi. But this particular detail may be rather far-fetched; Mursi’s supporters are expected to fight viciously against this ever taking place.
The second scenario foresees the Mursi regime attempting to contain the public wrath through partly giving in to the protestors’ demands, major among which is to amend the constitution, secure the independence of the judiciary, and elect a new parliament. I think this scenario is the most likely to materialise.
The third scenario as I see it is quite non-plausible, again in view of the prevalent consuming public wrath. In this case the Tamarud effort would fail and none of the movement’s objectives would materialise. Egypt would go into a flux of consequent Tamarud-like movements that would never go beyond a vocal phenomenon that freely expresses the bitter anger. But in this case Egypt would be like someone who lost a dear one, only to go on wailing non-stop and forget to bury his dead.
21 June 2013