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Opinion: Egypt’s “déjà vu” | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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An opponents of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi holds a placard during a protest in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, 07 July 2013. (EPA/KHALED ELFIQI.)

The world-famous French expression “déjà vu”—which is also the title of a famous film—means thinking that a new incident or life experience had occurred before. This expression may be somehow applied to the current events in Egypt, particularly the new revolution of June 30. The difference is that the revolution is not a quirk of the human brain, as scientists and psychologists define déjà vu. In fact, what happened in Egypt is an everyday reality.

Almost the same scenes of the January 25, 2011, revolution against the former president have been repeated on June 30, 2013, against the deposed President Mursi. Even the slogans used are very similar. In fact, what happened is like a film whose scenario went out of control or did not meet the hopes of the director who accordingly stopped filming and reconstructed the scenario. The difference between the film that the world-famous Denzel Washington starred in and the situation in Egypt is that the director rewriting the scenario is the angry protesters who occupied the streets and the squares of Egypt, attracting the attention of political movements and regional and international players.

Similar to what happened on January 25 and the first transitional period that followed, the June 30 revolution has been caused a regional and international reaction. Unable to ignore the role of international powers, local players in Egypt try to woo, or at least neutralize, them. However, the difference now is that attitudes have changed. Regional players that had supported January 25 revolution expressed their opposition to June 30 on the pretext of the legitimacy of change by the ballot box. The side that managed to topple the president justify themselves that those who took to the streets in the millions represent the same legitimacy that everyone accepted and acknowledged when it toppled the former president. They wonder why they oppose the toppling of Mursi in the same way. They also insist that in both cases this legitimacy demanded the support of the military, a thing which happened in both cases.

Many believe that the reason why a second revolution has happened, leading to the ouster of a supposedly freely elected president on his first anniversary in office, is due to the mistakes committed during the first transitional period, creating ever-deepening divisions throughout the last two and a half years. It all started when elections were held before a constitution was drafted to serve as a middle ground that everybody accepts. Instead, this led to a parliament which was dissolved and a president who, because he did not have specific powers, issued constitutional declarations to award himself almost absolute powers. This is not to mention the constant clashes between the presidency and the judiciary, as well as the rapidly collapsing economy and the government whose strategic interests are threatened by domestic weakness.

Why did that happen? History will answer that question. However, the state of perplexity everybody felt following the fall of Mubarak in 2011 and the absence of political leaders who can instruct and negotiate on behalf of youth movements and the protesters led a political trend which is not favored by the public to take control.

Now there is no way these mistakes can be repeated. Moreover, given the opportunity to correct the revolution, the one to run Egypt during the transition period should strike a balance between wisdom and firmness in order to avoid the scenarios of chaos or civil war that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has mentioned. The bloody confrontations that took place yesterday and the day before, as well as the violent footage being circulated on social networking websites, please no one and presage danger.

The regional and international scene is split between those who describe what happened as a “coup d’état” and the ones who prefer to wait, particularly after seeing the massive protests. This division and state of polarization point to the confusion over June 30 to the extent that friends have become enemies. In fact, Egypt is going through the most difficult time throughout its modern history, and the future of Egypt hinges on how the transitional period will be managed to enable the country escape the danger.