The legitimacy of the ruling regime in Egypt is eroding from within. Only one legitimate establishment – the Egyptian army and its history that enjoys the pride and respect of all the Egyptians – remains in the country that is acceptable to the two sides of the conflict. The legitimacy of the regime is also beginning to erode from the outside with the exception of the fear from the alternative represented by the Muslim Brothers that dominates certain quarters in Washington, London, and Berlin. And as we heard from the Americans, “now” means yesterday when they asked for a peaceful transition of power.
The erosion of legitimacy inside and outside the country places the Egyptian situation “in a crisis”. The outside is trying to crystallize its vision through the security conference convening in Munich in which the United States participated along with its European partners. It is obvious from the reports on the Munich conference that Europe and the United States are reading the same musical note or the same “manifesto” in dealing with the crisis of governance in Egypt. This step is a mere start for US-European coordination to impose a solution from the outside. This solution, as the Americans are offering it, may be summarized in two points. The first point is transferring power to a presidential council consisting of Omar Suleiman, Ahmad Shafiq, and Field Marshal Tantawi or whoever represents the army. The second scenario is keeping the president for a short period until he dissolves the People’s Assembly and asks for an amendment to the constitution before the powers are transferred to the vice president. If, however, the president insists on staying until the end of his term, the United States and Europe will use their tools to create a state of conflict of interests between the army and the army which would expedite the decision to remove the president. These are the scenarios in their coded telegraphic forms.
These scenarios and solutions will be imposed on the Egyptians in the next two weeks if they fail to draw up the features of a solution acceptable to the street as well as to the regime. Until this moment, it is clear that the regime is attempting to create a negotiating committee that empties the revolution of its substance. This is close to the regime’s past practices when it allowed fictitious parties to exist in Egypt in order to draw a caricature of the idea of a cosmetic democracy. When I was in the Al-Tahrir Square talking to youths and elderly people as well, they told me that they do not accept these many figures that claim to represent them. They wondered: “Who are these people? Most of them, except for a few, served the former regime. We refuse to be labeled a youth movement. As you can see, we are a revolution that includes youths and middle-aged people. Among us are youths and elderly people as well. Our last word is that there can be no negotiations before the departure”. Thus, the young men in Al-Tahrir Square, Alexandria, Al Ismailiyah, and Suez refuse to be called youths. They refuse the idea of the wise men and they refuse custodianship over their revolution. A woman surrounded by young men and women sitting around her told me: “You are educated and are welcome as our counselors but not as our custodians”.
A sharp exchange was taking place among those present in Al-Tahrir Square on the character of Omar Suleiman and how different he is from Mubarak. “From what we have heard, the man does not differ from Mubarak much,” said Mustafa, who is employed in a transcontinental company. As for the young lawyer Ali Abu al-Su’ud, he made fun of what is being said about the constitutional crisis. He asked the custodians to read Article 139 of the constitution that resolves to them the dilemma of the chicken and the egg and what came first, the dilemma that says that the president should stay to dissolve the People’s Assembly and to change the constitution. Ali Abu al-Su’ud and counselor Makki believe that Article 139 resolves the dilemma and transfers the president’s powers to his deputy without any problem. But, according to Counselor Makki, the only problem consists of “the bad intentions in the regime’s statements so far”. The inability to visualize an internal solution gives a glow to an external solution. Will the outside decisively resolve the crisis in Egypt or does the solution lie within? We will know the answer soon.