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Egypt: The revolutionaries and the remnants - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Following the Egyptian 25 January revolution’s success in overthrowing the head of the former regime, we have seen the widespread use of the expression “remnants of the former regime” in the analysis of who is behind many of the incidents that have occurred to obstruct the revolution or incite chaos and destruction [in Egypt]. There must also be a local equivalent to this expression in Tunisia with regards to members of the former regime – if they are still present on the scene – and there can be no doubt that a similar term will emerge in Syria and Yemen if the two countries follows the same path [as Tunisia and Egypt] and a “former regime” emerges there.

This is something that is natural and occurs following every revolution, and it took place following the two most famous revolutions, namely the French revolution and the Bolshevik revolution [in Russia], particularly as both sets of revolutionaries practiced extreme violence against the “remnants” of their former regimes, however we must also note that these revolutions took place in the 18th century and the early twentieth century respectively. The same applies to Egypt’s 23 July 1952 revolution, which had its own expressions [for the remnants of the former regime], such as “the extinct regime”, and “the remnants of the feudalistic state” and others.

However the current “remnants” of the former [Mubarak] regime are unlike the former “remnants” [of the Egyptian monarchy], that had historic roots, their own culture, and who accumulated their wealth over decades. As for the current “remnants” they were ready to jump ship as soon as they were aware that the regime would not make it, whilst they accumulated their wealth in just a few short years, and their loyalty was primarily based on their own interests, namely financial benefit. This was off-set by their fears of what would happen [to them] following the collapse of the former regime, and their capacity to change their [political] direction and follow any new regime.

Therefore, holding these remnants responsible for every problem that occurs in the post-revolutionary era does not reflect the reality of what is taking place on the ground, for these “remnants” lack the intelligence to organize all this. In reality, everything that has happened is the result of the “moment of confusion” that follows the collapse of any regime, and this is what we are seeing today in Egypt. What we are witnessing is a clash between traditional forces and mentalities that have become accustomed to a certain way of life and a new [political] force that desires comprehensive [political] change.

When we talk about traditional forces, this does not necessarily mean political and economic institutes or entities that prevailed under the former regime, but also old opposition political parties. This includes the Muslim Brotherhood, the primary organized political force on the ground which participated – albeit during the latter days – in the revolution, as well as official opposition political parties that were politically swept away during the previous era, like the Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya and the Salafists – if we expand the framework to include ideological groups – who did not participate in the revolution and are now trying to jump on the scene in any way they can.

The most prominent features of this state of confusion that can be seen in the current phase in Egypt are the worrying scenes [of violence] that we have recently seen in Cairo’s Abbasiya Square and the differences that have begun to emerge between different revolutionary elements and movements. We have also seen clashes between political movements in Tahrir Square and the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that is governing the country until power is handed over to a civilian government, in addition to the unanticipated scale of accusations [against members of the former regime] since the 25 January revolution.

All signs point to public opinion standing confused amidst such clashes, and differences have emerged between the public and those calling for strikes, particularly as the public want a measure of stability and a roadmap for the future, although this has not reached the stage of the public renouncing its support of the revolution. The Egyptian public was also not impressed by the attempts of a certain political force to march on the Egyptian Ministry of Defence, which may create friction and clashes between the revolutionary partners, particularly as the army played a primary role in the protection and success of the revolution. At the same time, the public was not impressed by the accusations that was put forward by some military figures to the effect that this political force had ties to foreign parties and agendas that were put forward by some military figures against this political movement.

If we look at the other side of this worrying picture, we will see that there is a silver lining, and that is that all the worried [political] forces at this particularly time are learning politics following a long period of [political] emptiness and inactivity [in Egypt] which led to the eruption of this leadership revolution, and this is what opens the door to mistakes being made [in this post-revolutionary period]. For with the exception of the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed ElBaradei – who many believe served as an inspiration for the revolution – almost all other parties are still learning politics, and this is why there is a tug-of-war between all parties, and this is healthy so long as nobody cuts this rope. Everybody should be allowed to participate in this [political] tug-of-war, including even those “remnants” of the former regime that so desire.

Ali Ibrahim

Ali Ibrahim

Ali Ibrahim is Asharq Al-Awsat's deputy editor-in-chief. He is based in London.

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