I don’t want to belittle what happened in Egypt over the past two weeks, but I don’t think that the “real” Egyptian revolution has started yet. Let me explain.
Over the past two weeks, five to ten million Egyptians took to the streets, once and again and again; in Cairo, Alexandria, Mansoura, Mahala, Suez, and all other cities and towns across the country. The majority of them were the educated elite and the upper middle class youth. The mix of frustration for lack of freedoms and jobs led those brave souls to break the might of the Central Security Forces (CSF).
However, today, there is a broad process of politicizing the masses across the different socio-economic classes; across the broad masses. Professional syndicates, labor unions, and students are getting engaged and are just starting to mobilize their members. If we remain in the current impasse in Egypt for a while longer, the real revolution will start, and it will be 20+ millions in the streets. The level of demonstrations (and violence) will be at a different order of magnitude.
For the past few days, the regime has been trying to a policy of “conflict management” rather than “conflict resolution”. The same policy that Mubarak and Soleiman have used to facilitate the negotiations between the Israeli’s and Palestinians, and Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. They are managing the conflict in Egypt today in the same way. The goal is to de-escalate the conflict in several ways: contain the demonstrators, appease the masses with wage hikes, throw few individuals from the regime under the bus, and continue to use the Muslim Brotherhood as a scarecrow.
Why are they doing this (apart from the survival instinct)? First, they have not comprehended what is happening, yet, especially the change in the balance of power on the ground between the people and the state. They don’t also understand who those demonstrators are, and what they “really” want – they still believe that they are a mix of naïve youth misguided by foreign instigators, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood. They also believe that the Egyptian people are not ready for democracy yet – Suleiman said that he’s all for democracy, but not now… only when the Egyptian people are ready for it.
Second, there is so much corruption at the top (the very top) layer. Once the house of cards fall, it will bring down everyone. The irony of throwing Garana and Al-Maghraby under the bus is that they are so tightly linked to Gamal Mubarak. Are these investigations going to get close to Gamal? Would his father throw him also under the bus, along with his older brother, Alaa?
This is why the regime, i.e., the very top layer, will remain entrenched and will defend its survival with all its power. In doing so, they may trigger the “real” revolution.
8 February 2011