Revolution or Coup?

Posted: February 15, 2011 by Zeddington in Egypt, Middle East
Tags: , , , , , , ,

In the fallout of Hosni Mubarak’s departure, there has been a lot of debate about the role of the military. With the Generals effectively in complete control of the country for the next six months at least, there has been much speculation about the intentions of the military. Lets not forget the role the military has played in Egyptian politics and power play for decades. Will they be willing to relinquish it now, in the face of what appears to be a hugely popular grassroots revolution?


The blogger Undercover Dragon discusses a piece by STRATFOR, which takes a look at the entire situation from an angle that has not been commonly portrayed. It’s an interesting read, and raises a few issues worth thinking about. However, I disagree with much of what is being said. The author seems very eager to deny that a revolution ever took place. He insists that the military was in control the entire time, and that the crowds were a convenient backdrop. And all because Mubarak wanted to install his son as Chief Honcho.


Time for some honesty. As much as we would like to say that the Egyptian people tossed out their long-time dictator without violence and without any outside help, we have to admit that the military did play a huge, pivotal role, and were ultimately the ones that forced him out.


Had Mubarak stepped down willingly, it is likely that he would have handed power over to Omar Suleiman, his Vice President. That didn’t happen. Add to that that by not getting involved on the street, the military were tacitly (or not so tacitly) endorsing the revolution.
But to say that the people demonstrating were a small number, not representative of the population, and ultimately insignificant strikes me as being out of touch with the reality on the ground. Reports from every news organization that was there (apart from maybe Nile TV) reported huge masses of people, in the square, around the square, in other parts of Egypt as well. This was very much a popular revolution, and while I agree they could not have done it without the army’s support, I agree with the author’s assertion that the army would have done it with or without the crowds.
As for whether this is a power grab by the army, time will tell. Most of their initial statements thus far have sounded reasonable (apart from the banning of of meetings of labor syndicates, and strikes, which must never again be accepted). Egyptians will rightly be sceptical and will rightly know that their involvement must not end here – that they need to be involved every step of the way, not leaving things in the hands of the army and the remnants of the old regime, if they want to transition to a true democratic state.


The Egyptian people understand this responsibility, and understand the continued role that they play. Many of them will feel that their job is done, and that they can get on with their lives. Many, however, have expressed an understanding that their job isn’t over, and that there is much to be done to ensure that the new institutions that will arise do not play into the hands of military or old regime. Six months is enough time for emotions to settle in most cases, but this revolution is the most important thing to happen to Egypt in decades. They will not simply forget what they fought for (and many died for) in a matter of months.


Have a good day.


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