There are a number of myths that seem to dominate the discourse in Egypt’s upper and middle-class, and subsequently national and international media. Given how frustrated I am by all the “experts” – foreign and
domestic- pontificating really superficial analysis about something they can neither understand nor grasp, I have decided to write this post. I apologize beforehand for anyone who might read this and think my tone is condescending, because I am not being nor trying to be that and I hope you have the wisdom not to mix the message with the messenger!
1) The Army is co-opting the revolution/trying to establish
another military dictatorship
WRONG. This is a prevalent one, and it has strong roots: the arrests of some protesters and their torture, the insistence on ending protests, and the lack of transparency of the Army’s actions. But please take a minute and stop thinking of the Army as a monolith or an institution, and think
of it as a bunch of human beings. The Army is a conservative institution, it doesn’t believe in chaos, and has operated for 30 years based on direct orders from Mubarak. The supreme council is a bunch of 60 and70 year olds who are not used to deliberate amongst themselves to how best deal with civil issues, and they look at the world in terms of balancing risks. And now they have to deal with all the rapid pace changes in the country and the pressures both internal and external and they are working harder than they ever thought they would work in their lives. I mean, can you imagine how a day of any of them looks like? Between internal issues (security, corruption in every sectors, economy, foreign policy), international conflicts, hiring new people, dealing with international diplomats who all want to meet him to either discuss their concerns or make demands, the situation in the borders, running the affairs of the army, facing demands and questions and requests for interview by foreign or local media and then getting cursed out by name in Tahrir by 250,000 people last Friday. Can you imagine their schedule? And the average age is 60 something to begin with, so imagine how low their energy levels are.
The Supreme Council views his country as a powder-keg and they want to hand over the responsibility as fast as possible, hence the referendum, but until that day they believe, wrongly, that they are the only force that can keep this country from being ripped apart at the seams. You think they can take over the country? With what army? Against Egyptians after they have become organized and formed their own militias? How fast do you think such an attempted takeover will last, before they are all killed or face an inevitable insurrection within their ranks? They wouldn’t last 3 days, before every single last one of them would be killed. They joined the revolution and made the high-council in order to ensure their survival first and foremost. They are more scared of you than we are scared of them.
2) The NDP/Mubarak is still controlling the country
WRONG. The supreme majority of the NDP are shitting in their pants, every single one of them dreading the day their sins will be exposed to the public, and they are watching their leaders getting plucked and investigated one by one. The reason why the Military is taking its time with the big names is that it needs to 1) build up the civil cases against them and 2) to feed them to the public at the best opportune moment, which with mounting pressures is looking closer every day. As for Mubarak, just watch as his credibility is being destroyed, and how slowly but surely the perception of him as the traitor who helped assassinate Anwar Sadat in order to take power and neutralized Egypt for 30 years, during which he kissed Israel’s ass in every conceivable way, in order to ensure his survival and US support is being formed. Go to any newsstand any day and read the headlines. By the time he gets tried, and he will based on public pressure, he will be branded as the biggest traitor in the country’s history. Just watch.
3) The Islamists are hijacking the revolution
WRONG. The Islamists are getting weaker by the day. The Salafists, with their bushy beards, talk of bringing back the 7th century and violence against chirstians and women are already alienating and angering the supreme majority of the Egyptian public, to the point that they have angered the sufis- the hippies of Islam, who are 16 million in case you didn’t know- into rising up and standing against them, and they have gotten the Muslim Brotherhood to the point where they will tell anyone who listens that they are different than the Salafists, and that the Salafists are insane.
As for the Muslim Brotherhood, well, they are having their own problems. This organization who long has lived and survived underground is now being forced into the light, which isn’t exactly where they are most comfortable, because the cracks are now showing. At first they seemed drunk of the success of the referendum result and their belief that they are the best positioned group to take over power come the parliamentary elections, to the point that Essam ElAryan- thinking he is Safwat el Sherief now- started a laughably titled “historic initiative” of dialogue with the Church youth, as if they are representative of Egypt’s Muslims. But like any group that gets drunk on its own hype, it’s bound to start doing stupid shit and wake up the next day with the worst hangover ever, and it’s already starting. Internal divisions are ripping the MB apart, with the Youth announcing their defection and making their own group, with reformists such as AboulFoutouh publicly leaving them for being out of touch with the public, with the rising public hostility towards them since they can’t differentiate between them and the Salafists, and with them trying to appease the public by declaring their party platform will call for a “civil state” and will not have any conditions against women or copts running for President and thus in turn angering their own hardliners as well. The Muslim Brotherhood is at its weakest point and it’s being torn apart, and the egyptian people are quickly getting the point that they don’t want to live in a theocracy. Go to Upper-Egypt and talk to regular people, and they will tell you that they don’t want the Islamists taking over because they want the tourists to come back. Hell, did you know that in the University of Minya, during the first free Student Union elections, not a single islamist candidate won? In freakin Minya! So, please don’t think that your people are stupid or ignorant or easy to deceive by a bunch of Islamists. You are not the only one who “gets it”. Respect your people. They have earned it.
4) New Parties are the only way to save the next elections
WRONG! The new parties are important, but let’s face it, they are still organizing, being formed, formulating policies, trying to explain their ideological position, creating headquarters, reaching out to people and they are run and formed by cairene elites who think they are the only ones who can save the country and hold discussions in English about reaching out “those people” in the villages and the governorates, yet they have no clue who they are or how to talk to them. They are not the best way to save the next elections. The People are.
Unbeknownst to most of you, there is a new rising power in the Egyptian street and it’s not affiliated with any party of clique, and it’s called the people’s committees. At first they were formed to protect their areas, but during the referendum they started evolving into a civil force that help campaigns and did their best to monitor the elections. Now those committees are getting in contact with each other and forming coalitions. I have met representatives who have formed coalitions of 40 or 50 such committees all over Egypt, and they are organizing a conference for all of Egypt’s committee reps this June. Already, right now, there are 220 such committees covering 220 districts of Egypt’s 280, and that’s besides the independent unions and citizen groups that are getting formed everywhere every day. They are not waiting on us to save them or guide them, they already took matters into their own hands and we are the ones who are trying to catch up. And the way they operate, and their strategies for organization are impressive. A bunch of them asked for experts
on capitalist, socialist and Islamic economies to come to their neighborhoods and give lectures to educate people on their differences. This is happening while you are sitting in cafes discussing how you want to “spread awareness” to Egypt’s “ignorant population”. Well, if you want to do that, go to such meetings, find those people and ask them, humbly, how you can be of help and they will let you know. But you better not think you can deceive or bamboozle them in any way, because they will sniff you out very quickly. Go and get to know your people, and prepare to be floored by how intelligent and sophisticated they are.
5) Amr Moussa / Baradei is the new President
WRONG. The political Life cycle of any politician in Egypt is now 1 week, the same goes for Presidential candidates. The people don’t want someone who is as tainted as Moussa or as unable to communicate with them as Baradei. Chances are, Egypt’s real next president will appear sometimes by late august/ early September, after those two have been kicked and burned and faced a trial by fire unlike Egypt has ever seen. If one of them manages to survive it, then kudos to them, cause that means they have earned it. But this is far from being set by anyone, and any candidate who believes they have this in the bag already are also drunk on their own hype and are bound to wake up one day with the worst hangover ever wondering what the hell happened. Just watch!
6) International forces will destroy the revolution
WRONG. But not for lack of trying. God knows the Saudi government and Israel are both very worried about this revolution and will try anything- like funding salafis in the case of Saudi, or placing pressure on the US to support Amr Moussa in the case of Israel and both in order to ensure Egypt stays in the Sunni-Zionist alliance against Iran- in order to sustain a status-quo whose expiration date has long passed. Both of them don’t get that the rules of the game has changed, and that the virus of the revolution will infect their despondent and dissatisfied population as well. Hell, Egypt is so mad at Saudis for trying to pressure them into a conflict Sunni-Shia they have no interest in partaking in that we have now started reaching out to the Iranian government to resume diplomatic relations. Those are not the Mubarak days anymore; unless our sovereignty is respected, we can and will push back. Count on it.
And don’t think this is a victory for the Iran wing either, because Iran is also facing the prospects of their own revolution, and Syria is already dealing with its own, and the Palestinian people are already limning up to get rid of the corrupt leaders of both Hamas and Fatah. On March 15 there were huge protests by non-aligned Palestinian youth who are demanding the end of the division between the people and subsequently getting rid of those who have divided them in order to rule comfortably. The geopolitical map will look radically different in 2012. This virus will spread everywhere. Just watch!
7) There is doom and gloom everywhere!
WRONG! There is nothing but optimism and the prospect of a brighter future. Yes, there is economic instability and the economy will go down for a bit, but that’s only natural and part of the healing process. When you take an anti-biotic to cure you from a disease it is bound to keep you bed ridden and feeling tired for a few days so that you can properly heal, but you will heal and you will regain your full health eventually. We are completely unaware of what’s happening in the country because things are happening so fast that everything seems like it’s standing still. But the country is moving, the virus of the revolution spreading everywhere and changes are happening by the minute because 30 years worth of changes and reform are unleashed all at once. We are living in Hyper-time, and every person who sees a hole in the foundation of our country is working really hard and fast to plug it, and the future is looking brighter every day because of it.
Think of state TV employees who are protesting right now demanding that our national TV practices real journalism without an agenda. Think of the coalition of restaurant owners that is being formed in order to tell the municipalities that they won’t pay bribes anymore, and if they wish to shut them down they can go right ahead and face the wrath of all of their employees. Think of the students of the Lycee in Cairo, 6 and 7th graders, who did a 3 day sit-in protest demanding the return of a teacher that got fired for carrying an anti-Mubarak sign in Tahrir and forced the administration to re-instate him. Think of all the 8 and 10 year olds who went out with their parents the day of the referendum to vote and had the experience engrained in their psyche forever, something we never had ourselves, and know that they will never allow that right to be taken away from them. Think of all the 12 year olds who are watching all the hot issues (secularism vs. theocracy, left vs. right, the role of the army, the role of the police, etc..) being debated all around them right now, and having their political consciousness formed right now and know that when they turn 18 it will be next to impossible for someone to trick or co-opt them. Think of all the 15 and 16 year olds who are watching the protests all around them and the lessons and mistakes that we are doing and think of what those kids will do the moment they get into college in a couple of years or when they join the workforce. Think of all your friends, wherever they are, who are joining and debating and talking and wanting to help and do something, and know you are not a solitary phenomenon. The Virus is everywhere. The Future is AWESOME. We will not save Egypt, Egypt will save us.
Now go and think of how you can help. And when you encounter people whose stupidity or irrationality or ignorance frustrates you, smile, because you know in 6 or 7 years they will no longer exist nor be of any
Have a lovely day!