Revolt and Revolution In Egypt - Egypt in Revolt – New School U
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Revolt and Revolution In Egypt: Causes and Consequences of the 2011 Egyptian Uprising
By Steven Ditchkus and Diana Rodriguez
Geopolitics of the Middle East and North Africa Professor Tom O’Donnell Fall 2011
Table of Contents Revolt and Revolution In Egypt: Causes and Consequences of the 2011 Egyptian Uprising
Introduction By Steven Ditchkus
Part One - Egypt’s Path to the 2011 Uprising By Steven Ditchkus -
A Select Political and Economic History of Egypt: 1919 – Present Situational Factors and the 2011 Uprising
Part Two - Consequences of the 2011 Uprising By Diana Rodriguez - After Mubarak Era Protests Continue - Elections - Result of Elections - Potential Consequences Based on First Round Results - The Role of Minority Groups - International Relations Conclusion By Diana Rodriguez
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Revolt and Revolution in Egypt: Causes and Consequences of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution Introduction In mid January of 2010, following the “Jasmine” revolution in Tunisia, activists in Egypt began calling for an uprising in their own country. Their goal was to initiate a popular revolt against the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Of these activists was 26-year-old Egyptian Asmaa Mohfouz, who posted a video of herself on the Internet calling on the people of Egypt to join her in opposing the country’s “corrupt government.” In the video Mahfouz summons the Egyptian people to gather in Tahrir Square on the 25th of January in an effort to show solidarity with the protesters in Tunisia and to demand basic human rights and equality for Egyptian citizens. She inspiringly proclaimed: “I, a girl, am going down to Tahrir Square, and I will stand alone. And I’ll hold up a banner. Perhaps people will show some honor ... if you think yourself a man, come with me on January 25th. Whoever says women shouldn’t go to protests because they will get beaten, let him have some honor and manhood and come with me on January 25th. Whoever says it is not worth it because there will only be a handful of people, I want to tell him, ‘You are the reason behind this, and you are a traitor, just like the president or any security cop who beats us in the streets’... come down with us and demand your rights, my rights, your family’s rights. I am going down on January 25th and will say no to corruption, no to this regime!”1 On the 25th of January, which came to be known as the Day of Revolt, protests erupted throughout Egypt with tens of 1
Asmaa Mahfouz, "The Vlog that Helped Spark the Revolution," YouTube (video), January 18, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgjIgMdsEuk&feature=related.
thousands of people in Cairo and thousands more in cities around the country. Less than a month after this initial day of protests, on February 11, 2011, Vice President Suleiman announced the resignation of President Mubarak and delegated the Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces with the leadership of the country. Hundreds of thousands of people celebrated in Tahrir Square immediately following the announcement. This recent Egyptian uprising is a clear indication that Egyptian citizens accumulatively desire change. Yet, how did this desire become so strong that it brought the mass of the Egyptian population to the streets in rage? And since the fall of President Mubarak, have the citizens of Egypt established a path that will allow them to overcome the frustrations that brought them to the streets in protest? These questions are incredibly complex and their answers are largely open to debate. However, these are the issues that are addressed in this paper, and although there is no single answer to this inquiry, it is hoped that this work will shed light on the actual frustrations felt by the Egyptian people and provide an accurate illustration of the aftermath of their revolt. To accomplish this task, this work has been divided into two major sections. The initial section (Egypt’s Path to the 2011 Revolution) sets out to identify the major causes of the recent revolt. This includes a brief discussion of Egypt’s modern political and economic history. It also includes an attempt to contextualize the immediate environment from which the uprising arose. Section two of this paper (Consequences of the 2011 Uprising) provides a narrative of the events that have occurred since Mubarak stepped down from power in February of 2011 and endeavors to establish insight into an Egyptian future that is still to come.
Egypt’s Path to the 2011 Revolution By Steven Ditchkus
A Select Political and Economic History of Egypt: 1919 – Present
When Egypt erupted into protests this past January a great portion of the country’s citizens found themselves to be living in a fairly gloomy situation. The millions of individuals who gathered in the streets to demand the resignation of President Mubarak were participating because they had become exhausted by a decaying social landscape and because they could no longer suffer the costs of a corrupt authoritarian regime. In recent years, Egypt has been characterized by widespread poverty, a dysfunctional and corrupt political system, crumbling infrastructure, inefficient government institutions, high levels of wealth inequality, increasing factional conflict between Muslim and Copt communities, and an overall lack of concern for social welfare by the Mubarak government. Thus, the demands for the President’s removal were not difficult to justify and support for the movement grew with rapid convulsion. Yet, Mubarak had been in power for over thirty years and this dreary situation was not the result of some unexpected political or economic collapse. On the contrary, the crisis situation that brought Egyptian citizens to the streets in protest is the result of a long occurring and multifaceted crisis, much of which has to do with Egypt’s modern history and the country’s geopolitical significance. The origins of Mubarak’s power, the situational factors that allowed him to take office in the first place, are in the legacy of Egypt’s Free Officer Regime. This regime, in
its various manifestations, has held influence over the country for more than half a century. In fact, Egypt has a remarkable record for the durability of its ruling political establishments. Excluding British colonial rule, there have been only two overarching regimes to govern the country during the last two centuries; this includes the dynasty of Muhammad Ali, which came to power following the country’s turbulent experience with the invasion of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798 and the aforementioned Free Officer Regime initiated in large part by Gamal Abdul Nasser during a military coup in 1952.2 However, the perseverance of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty and the Free Officer Regime is not to imply a history of stability or homogeneity in economic or social policies. Over roughly the last century the country has experienced two popular revolutions, been granted independence from British colonial rule, overthrown a monarchy to establish a republic, and experienced a total transformation in its means of social and economic organization. Understanding this history, specifically the dramatic social and economic changes that have taken place in Egypt over the last century, is crucial to comprehending the current uprising and the grievances of the revolutionaries. The starting point for many of Egypt’s modern circumstances occurred with a massive uprising that took place in 1919. At this point in history Egyptian citizens were becoming increasingly frustrated with their three decade long experience with British domination and the economic and political environment that it was providing. These frustrations and resentment for the colonial power were further enhanced as a result of the First World War. During the War Great Britain forcefully enlisted over one and a half million Egyptian citizens into the Allied war effort. The British also brought a mass of 2
Fouad Ajami, "The Sorrows of Egypt: A Tale of Two Men," The New Arab Revolt: What Happened, What It Means, and What Comes Next, (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, Foreign Affairs, 2011), 5-8.
foreign troops onto Egypt’s soil and took official claim over Egyptian infrastructure, agriculture (which resulted in a food shortage), and labor animals for military use. After the War, the British used the dangerous state of affairs in the country to legitimate an expansion of the colonial-state bureaucracy and as justification for leaving British troops on Egyptian territory.3 The aggregation felt by Egyptian citizens reached a pinnacle in March of 1919 when four leaders of the Egyptian national movement and Wafd Party were arrested and exiled to Malta for their insistence that the colonial power remove its troops and recognize Egypt as an independent state.4 These arrests were to much to bear for the Egyptian people and came to initiate one of the largest and most important uprisings in Egypt’s modern history. The Egyptian revolution of 1919 began as peasant revolt in the heart of Cairo but soon evolved into a countrywide revolution with participants from all social and economic classes. The movement involved large-scale demonstrations and a number of general strikes that lasted for a period of roughly two months. In addition to protests, peasant revolutionaries engaged in direct action by destroying railways and communication lines, which isolated Cairo from the countryside and brought the country’s economy to near standstill.5 As a result of these protests, Great Britain agreed to enter into official negotiations with Egypt. Two years later in February of 1922 the British abandoned martial law and granted Egypt nominal independence from colonial rule.6
P.J. Vatikiotis , The History of Modern Egypt: From Muhammad Ali to Mubarak, (London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), 246, 4 Ellis Goldberg, "Peasants In Revolt: Egypt 1919," International Journal of Middle East Studies, 24, no. 2 (1992): 161, http://egyptinrevolt.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/peasants-in-revolt-1919.pdf 5 Ibid., 161-163. 6 Omnia El Shakry, "Egypt’s Three Revolutions: The Force of History behind this Popular Uprising," Jadaliyya February 06, 2011, http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/569/egypts-three-
The 1919 uprising was the first of a number of significant changes in Egyptian society and helped pave the way for Egyptian independence, however, British troops were still permitted to remain in the country on the basis of protection and for their own strategic importance. Over the next several decades the British military occupation of the country in addition to the close relationship held between British authorities and the Egyptian monarchy become an issue of much contention. Soon Egypt’s political scene became marked by a multitude of organized ideological forces, from the Wafd party to the Muslim Brotherhood, which found common ground in their dedication to rid the country of foreign control. The country was still deeply suffering from the international troubles brought on by the Great Depression, e.g., agricultural wages fell an estimated forty percent during this period, and the standing monarch, King Farouk, was becoming increasingly viewed as a corrupt puppet to the formal Colonial state. 7 Thus, by the 1950s, Egyptian society was in what can be considered a period of economic and political crisis. These difficult times again brought wide spread social unrest to the country, which came in the form of a number of peasant protests, worker and trade union strikes, and student demonstrations. In 1952, this unrest and dissatisfaction with the standing regime eventually amounted to a bloodless military coup and revolution led by Gamal Abdel-Nasser and the Free Officers Movement. The leading officers quickly deposed King Farouk and sent him into exile.8 However, the political ambitions of the movement did not stop with the King and soon after Farouk’s removal the officers abolished the constitutional monarchy and took steps to establish an Egyptian revolutions_the-force-of-history-behi. Ibid. 8 Hamza Ateş, Mehmet Duman, and Yüksel Bayraktar, "A Story of Infitah: Egyptian Liberation Under Stress," Yapi Kredi Economic Review, 17, no. 1 (2006): 60-63, (blog) http://egyptinrevolt.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/egypt-under-stress.pdf. 7
republic and made moves to end the British occupation of the country. The 1952 revolution and the rise to power of Gamal Abdel-Nasser and his Free Officers Regime marked a transformative point in Egyptian history, which from its conception held a nationalist and anti-imperialist temperament, and this character would come to define Egypt for several years to come. In 1954, Nasser consolidated his rule and became Premier and President of the Revolutionary Command Council. Prior to Nasser, the country’s economic strategy was characterized by its agricultural exports (primarily cotton), and its public sector industrial facilities.9 However Nasser quickly set out to change this strategy by ushering in a smallscale agrarian land reform and by taking the initial steps towards a project of national industrialization. The new government also took early steps to eliminate its ideological rivals, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian Communist party. Thus, the next two decades of domestic and foreign policy in Egypt came to be characterized by a highly repressive single party political system based on Nasser’s inward looking socialist agenda. To accomplish its goals, the administration attempted to build a highly statecentralized structure of social and economic development based on social planning and economic intervention. This included such measures as the nationalization of all foreignowned banks, insurance companies, and a number of foreign owned manufacturing corporations.10 It also included heavy taxation of the remaining private sector goods and services. These policies were aimed at benefitting Egypt’s middle and lower classes, which in exchange for political choice and market freedoms, were promised a number of
Ibid. Egypt News, "Economic Conditions Under Nasser." Last modified January, 19, 2009. Accessed September 16, 2011. http://news.egypt.com/en/economic-conditions-during-era-of-nasser.html or via blog at: http://egyptinrevolt.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/egyptian-history/.
new social welfare programs and the benefits of rising state owned industrial and financial sectors. Egypt’s move towards socialism and Egyptian nationalism brought strain on the country’s relationship with several western governments, namely the United States and Great Brittan, which were in the midst of tensions associated with the Cold War. The United States, who had originally agreed to help fund Egypt’s construction of the Aswar High Dam and to finance a number Egyptian military expenses, cut much of its funding as a result of this transition. When the U.S. made their position clear, Nasser quickly took action to develop a closer relationship with the Soviet Union. By the 1960s, the U.S.S.R. was helping to arm the Egyptian military and agreed to provide approximately one-third of the cost of the dam’s construction as well as sending hundreds of qualified technicians into the country.11 The Aswar High Dam was envisioned to become an important power source for Egypt, and Nasser was determined to see it completed. Yet with only one-third of the funding being provided he still needed additional revenues to accomplish this task. In 1956, with Nasser frustrated by western powers and in need of financing, he ordered the Egyptian military to seize control over the Suez Canal. The nationalization of the canal would not only provide Egypt with a new source of revenue but also served as a commanding symbol of Nasser’s dedication to freeing his country of its colonial past.12 This dedication, and the Egyptian peoples’ loyalty to Nasser, would be tested even further in what soon came to be known as the Suez Crisis. The Suez Crisis came to demonstrate Egypt’s growing geopolitical importance 11
Egypt News, "Foreign Policy Under Nasser." Last modified January, 19, 2009. Accessed September 16, 2011. http://news.egypt.com/en/Foreign-Policy-During-era-of-nasser.html or via blog at: http://egyptinrevolt.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/egyptian-history/. 12 Daniel Yergin, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, (New York: Free Press, 2009), 465.
during this period in addition to showing the strength of Nasser and the public’s positive opinion of his regime. After nationalization the canal continued to function properly and its expropriation was deemed as a great success for the administration. However, the British and the French were enraged by Nasser’s triumph and saw the situation as an opportunity to forcefully engage with the country in hopes of recovering the waterway and to overthrow the socialist leader in the process. This frustration was evident in late 1956, when Israel invaded Egypt in accordance with a plan devised by the French and British, which placed Israel as the trigger for the allied invasion. Soon after, as was strategized, the two western powers issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel and began an attack on the country. Many Egyptian civilians took up arms in defense of their nation, which was not the response that the French and British had hoped for. The two world powers were frustrated further by the response of the United States during the crisis, which in previous years had been a central ally in many of their foreign endeavors. Eisenhower was openly opposed to the engagement and put pressure on the attackers to remove their troops from the country. Troops were eventually removed and a major victory was awarded to the Nasser government. Thus, in addition building domestic support for Nasser and his military, the Suez crisis illustrated the significance of Egypt as an important and rising power in the region. Nasser would remain at the head of Egypt until his death in 1970. During his time as President he maintained his stance as an Arab nationalist and continued his dedication to socialist reform. Nasser also waged two unsuccessful wars with Israel, one in 1956 and again in 1967. In 1967, Nasser also put Egypt under a state of Emergency Law, which extended police power, limited constitutional rights, and legalized
censorship. Egypt would remain under emergency law, except for a brief 18-month period under Sadat, for the next four decades. The Nasser regime was quite successful in redesigning the social and economic structure of the Egyptian society, however, the structure that he created began to produce serious economic problems that were enhanced further by the negative relationship that he had created with the west and his aggression towards Israel. After Nasser’s death, which was the result of health complications, the Egyptian presidency was succeeded to the standing Vice President and Nasser’s close confidant, Anwar El-Sadat. Sadat, a senior member of the Free Officers movement, was well aware of Nasser’s social agenda and the Egyptian people’s political and emotional attachment to the departed leader. During his inauguration, Sadat promised the Egyptian people that he would follow the path that Nasser had started and devote his presidency to maintaining his predecessor’s reforms. However, it soon became clear that this was not going to be the case, and that Sadat instead planned to dramatically alter Egypt’s political and economic environment. In Sadat’s Presidential Working Paper of October 1974 he made known his intention to begin both an internal and external process of liberalization in his country. Egypt’s new “al-Infitah al-iqtisadi” (economic opening) consisted of a number of neoliberal policy measures intended to help Egypt make the transition into a free market economy and to build greater international relationships with the west.13 Sadat’s Infitah redefined Egypt’s economic policy based on three major objectives: to import technology and attract foreign capital in order to promote economic development, the need to provide financial facilities that were attractive to foreign investors (this included such measures as providing incentives to attract foreign banks), 13
Omnia El Shakry, February 8, 20011.
and to make Egyptian labor more attractive to foreign markets by removing constraints that had previously made it too expensive. A major component for accomplishing these goals was the privatization of many industries that had been controlled by the state under Nasser. Initially the Sadat government granted foreigners the right of total ownership in a number of specific projects in addition to allowing foreign companies up to 49 percent of all state owned enterprises. These privatization measures were again expanded to allow more foreign ownership in subsequent years. Sadat also made an effort to dismantle trade unions in an effort to give companies more control over wages and to decrease the cost of Egyptian Labor. As a result of the Infitah initiative, Egypt did experience a reasonable amount of economic growth in certain sectors. By 1978, the GDP growth rate for the country had increased to a level of 13 percent, up from an average of around 4 percent in 1974.14 However, with increased levels of trade and a rising GDP Egypt also began to experience rising levels of debt and began to develop a dependence on international trade and foreign capital.15 Sadat’s reform path also eventually came to include a major transformation in Egypt’s foreign policy. On Yom Kippur in 1973, Egypt and Syria waged a brief yet historic war with Israel. The end of this war and the signing of a separation of forces accord between the two countries in the following year marked a transition for Egypt away from its aggressive demeanor towards Israel and a cutting of its close ties with the Soviet Union. Evidence of this transition came directly after the signing of this accord when the United States agreed to commit 85 million dollars of aid to Egypt in order to
Hamza Ateş, Mehmet Duman, and Yüksel Bayraktar, 63. Ibid., 64.
help repair the Suez Canal.16 This changing international environment was further highlighted in 1978 when Sadat met with the Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at Camp David in the United States to sign an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. By this time, Sadat had already ordered an approximate 25,000 Soviet military advisers out of the country and jailed a number of local communists. By the end of the war it was clear that the United States was becoming a more favorable player in Egyptian foreign policy and the Soviet Union was on its way out as Egypt’s dominate ally. By 1976, Egypt was receiving approximately 750 million dollars in financial assistance annually from the United States, which was just under the amount of aid that was being granted to Israel, and the Soviet Union had been pushed out as the country’s ally almost entirely.17 In October of 1981, Sadat was assassinated during the annual victory parade that was held in celebration of Egypt’s crossing of the Suez Canal.18 After Sadat’s assassination Egypt was again placed under Emergency Law, which Sadat had lifted only 18-months prior to his death. Also injured during Sadat’s assassination was his Vice President Hosni Mubarak, who later that month would succeed Sadat as the President of Egypt and remain in power until the current uprising. As Mubarak took office, Egypt, along with much of the rest of the world, stood in a period of economic turmoil. The economic turbulence in Egypt at this time was the result of difficulties associated with a serious surplus in crude oil in world markets in addition to a rising level of imports in the country, which as a result left Egypt with dramatic foreign exchange imbalances. As a
Marvin G. Weinbaum, "Egypt's Infitah and the Politics of US Economic Assistance ," Middle Eastern Studdies, 21, no. 2 (1985): 211, http://egyptinrevolt.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/egyptsinfitah.pdf (accessed November 29, 2011). 17 Ibid. 18 WorldsAssasinations , "Anwar El Saddat's Assassination." Accessed October 4, 2011. http://egyptinrevolt.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/anwar-el-saddats-assesination-videos/.
consequence of these hard times in addition to Egypt’s dire need of economic assistance, Mubarak continued along Sadat’s liberal reform path with the west. Mubarak’s political and economic policies were relatively similar to Sadat’s for the first ten years of his presidency. However, by the 1990s Egypt’s gradual liberal reform path began to become more dramatic.19 After three years of negotiations with the IMF, and based on pressure from the United States (who at the time was threatening to cut the Egyptian aid package), Egypt began a series of structural adjustment policies.20 The most important of these new liberal adjustments were focused on Egypt’s foreign exchange, its large budget deficit, its interest rates and money supply, pricing policies, and further privatization of Egyptian industries. As a result of these reforms, Egypt did begin to experience signs of improvement in terms of economic performance. This included a substantial rise in the country’s GDP and a significant drop in its total debt to GDP ratio. Additionally, the country began to experience a reasonable increase in its long-term capital flows, particularly in the form of foreign direct investment. Yet, along with these reforms Egypt began to implement a number of austerity measures that had been mandated by a number of international financial institutions and included such actions as the removal of subsidies on low cost commodities and the cutting of social services. It must be additionally noted that much of the wealth generated in Egypt during this period made its way to only a small portion of the country’s citizens, and those who had experienced the benefits of a rising economy were typically those either directly involved in the Egyptian government, military, or financial elites with close ties to the regime. Throughout this Hamza Ateş, Mehmet Duman, and Yüksel Bayraktar, 66. Momani, Bessma . "Promoting Economic Liberalization in Egypt: From U.S Foreign Aid to Trade and Investment." Middle East Review of International Affairs. 7. no. 3 (2003), 89. http://egyptinrevolt.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/momani2.pdf (accessed November 28, 2011). 19 20
period, the majority of Egyptian citizens did not see their economic situation grow in line with the country’s rising GDP. This situation is to some degree a result of the high levels of corruption in Egypt’s political arena, which according to Transparency International is a “seriously corrupt nation.” Transparency international gave Egypt a 3.1 our of 10 on their 2010 corruption Perception Index (1 being the most corrupt and 10 being free of corruption).21
Situational Factors and the 2011 Uprising
The neoliberal reforms enacted by Sadat, and then further enhanced under Mubarak, have greatly altered Egypt’s economic terrain. Over the last four decades, and even more so since the 1990s, the country has experienced a dramatic upward concentration of wealth and a rising level of income inequality. The austerity measures that took place under Mubarak in the 1990s have made this situation even worse. The country, since these adjustments, has experienced a noticeable decline in the real wage rate for the greater portion of the population. To make matters worse, these adjustments also mandated large cuts in social services and the removal of subsidies on common commodities (such as bread), which greatly raised the cost of living for Egyptian citizens. Furthermore, partially as a result of massive layoffs associated with privatization efforts of these reforms, Egypt has experienced a reasonably high level of unemployment, which reached just under ten percent in recent years and was close to double that level for younger segments of the population (21 percent of males and 40 percent of females under 21
Transparency International, "Focus on Egypt." Accessed November 18, 2011. http://www.transparency.org/regional_pages/africa_middle_east/current_projects/mabda/focus_countries/e gypt.
the age of 25 were unemployed at the time of the uprising).22 Thus, it is not difficult to recognize that while Egypt’s turn towards liberalization has had a certain degree of economic success it has also had terrible social consequences. By 2000, Egypt had entered into a state of political and economic disarray. From the perspective of a balance sheet, this may not have appeared to be the case. However, the reality for a vast number of Egyptian citizens was that they were living under a corrupt thirty year long dictatorship that was characterized by widespread poverty, vast wealth inequality, a lack of government institutions, crumbling infrastructure (such as roads, buildings, hospitals, and schools), a lack of reliable social services, harsh political repression, and police brutality. Of those most effected by these conditions were Egypt’s youth. The Youth in Egypt, at this time, made up an approximate sixty percent of the population, which as a whole consists of over eighty million people. Young Egyptians are relatively well educated and additionally well connected globally. By mid-2000, the country experienced an explosion of Internet usages with an estimated 22 percent of the population (over 17 million people) having Internet access.23 This high level of connectivity would come to act as one of the most important tools for Egyptians in the revolution. This situation led to an increasing level of social unrest in recent years, which has included student demonstrations, large-scale riots, and union demonstrations. However, the vast majority of these protests have been met by harsh crackdowns under Emergency Law by the country’s police force. Yet, on January 25, 2010, these factors came to a climax as the country united against the Mubarak Regime in countrywide revolt. 22
United Nations Data, "Egypt." Accessed October 4, 2011. http://egyptinrevolt.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/egypt-current-statistical-overview/. 23 Ibid.
The immediate revolt in Egypt lasted less than a full month, from January 25 to February 11, 2011. The composition of the protesters was fairly representative of the population as a whole. Largely literate, and connected, younger members of the population dominated the majority of the movement, at least during its initial phases. This included both male and female participants in all major protest activities. It also included the participation of individuals from different ethnicities, religions, social classes, political orientations, and income levels. After the initial “day of rage” on January 25, the Mubarak regime didn’t hesitate to retaliate. On January 26, the Egyptian government shut down Internet access in the country.24 This move came after security forces realized demonstrators were utilizing email lists, web pages, social networking sites, and open editing software to organize actions and to share and produce information. Furthermore, it was realized that protesters were not only using information technologies to strategies but that documentation of the movement was being broadcast around the world. Two days later, on January 28, protesters began what has been dubbed the “Friday of Anger.” This second major set of actions, which information for managed to spread even with the Internet officially shut down, brought hundreds of thousands of people to the streets of Cairo and in cities across the country. As protests escalated, the government deployed the country’s military to help control the scene. The following day a curfew was declared but was largely disregarded by protesters, many of whom remained in Tahrir Square over night. The movement continued to gain momentum into February, with protesters contiguously occupying the capital and demonstrations occurring regularly in major cities. By February, protesters began to experience an
James Cowie, "Egypt Leaves the Internet," http://egyptinrevolt.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/egypt_leaves_internet/
increase in violent clashes between protesters and supporters of the regime. Some proMubarak supporters were even reported to be riding camels and using swords. On February 11, after many pleas by he President for the protesters to compromise, Mubarak resigned and the Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces took the leadership of the country.
Part Two - Consequences of the 2011 Uprising By Diana Rodriguez After Mubarak Era, Protests Continue With the overthrown of Mubarak, the protests did not cease. With the Military taking over Egypt’s power, the protestors were not happy with the results of Mubarak’s end of regime. Worse yet, Egypt has fallen in a deeper economic crisis that does not seem to improve despite removing Hosni Mubarak from his thirty years of governance. Among the reasons why Egyptians continue to protest are: “Suspension of Egypt’s constitution by the military council that took over. The council plans to stay in power until a new government is chosen through elections (first phase of parliamentary elections took place during November of 2011). The parliamentary elections that were set to take place during September of 2011 were held not until November of 2011. In April, the military banned protests that could hurt Egypt's struggling economy, but thousands of demonstrators have set up a tent city in Cairo's Tahrir Square to demand speedier change. The January revolution crippled the Egyptian economy as tourists stayed away from the land of the pyramids in droves, idling an estimated 2 million workers. The country's gross domestic product shrank 7% as a result of the revolt, with unemployment hovering around 9%. The government has proposed a 9% increase in food and fuel subsidies for the coming year to offset rising commodity prices. Discrimination against minorities.”25 It can be said that the main reason for protestors to continue their fight is that, despite their efforts and “achievements,” nothing has changed much in regards to a better economy for Egypt. Parallel to this last fact, no new opportunities had been given to the CNN Wire Staff, “Egypt After Mubarak: A checklist.”, CNN World, July 25, 2011, accessed December 9, 2011, http://articles.cnn.com/2011-0724/world/egypt.revolution.status_1_cairo-s-tahrir-square-gamal-and-alaa-corruptioncharges?_s=PM:WORLD 25
Egyptians in regards to new employment opportunities in order to increase household income levels. In more recent events, police and military brutality have increased against the protesters, and it seems as if no one wishes to take responsibility for their acts. When the revolution first started, protesters were given the chance to “peacefully” demand changes from the government. As time passed by since the revolt erupted, there has been an increment of police and military forces presence at places were demonstrators gather. The importance to analyze police and military brutality relies in the fact that one of the reasons why protests originally took place was the lack of protections towards Egyptian citizens. A critical moment in Egypt’s current events had to do with the parliamentary elections that took place during November 28, 2011 (first round), where outbursts of violence were expected by many but to the contrary, the elections took place in a peaceful manner. After over a week of protests characterized by violence, the elections were characterized by the peace that reign during a historical moment for all Egyptians, especially the ones that were voting for the first time.
Elections During November 28, 2011, Egypt held its first free parliamentary elections after decades of Mubarak’s rule that ended in February of 2011. Following are some facts in regards to the elections, and the process that took place for the elections to happen: “The staggered vote that started on November is to fill 498 seats in the lower house. The last run-off vote will take place on January 10. The military council will appoint 10 more deputies. Voting for the 270-strong upper house starts on
January 29 and ends on March 11. Ninety of those seats will be appointed after the next president is elected and 180 will be up for grabs. The new parliament's primary task will be to pick a 100strong constituent assembly to write the new constitution. Only elected members of both houses will get to pick the assembly's members. Parliament will have legislative power, but the military council, which took over from Mubarak, will keep its "presidential powers" until a presidential election, now expected in June, 2012. The military council will still appoint the government, but is likely to face pressure from parliament to ensure it reflects the mix of the newly elected assembly. Egypt has 50 million eligible voters among its more than 80 million people. The minimum voting age is 18. Police and military officers are not allowed to vote. Voting is staggered to ensure judges supervise each phase. In the lower house, polling stations will open for two days for both the first round of each vote and any run-offs. Two-thirds of the 498 lower house seats will be picked by proportional representation, using lists drawn up by parties or alliances. Each list must include at least one woman candidate and adopt a specific symbol to help the illiterate. Seats will be allocated proportionally based on a party's showing in each of 46 districts. The remaining third, or 166 seats, in the lower house are open to individuals, who may or may not have party affiliations, two from each of 83 districts. Of the individual candidates, half must be "professionals" and the rest "workers" or "farmers," categories that hark back to President Gamal Abdel Nasser's redistributive socialist policies in the 1950s and 1960s. Qualifying rules exist, although the distinctions have little relevance. However, the system does complicate voting procedures. A winner must achieve more than 50 percent of the votes in a district or face a run-off. If a professional wins one seat, the second seat must go to a farmer or worker, although both seats can go to farmers and workers. The voting procedures apply to the upper house, too.”26
“Q+A: How does Egypt's parliamentary election system work?,” Reuters, Accessed December 14, 2011, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/28/us-egypt-electionsystem-idUSTRE7AR0VE20111128 26
Unlike the previous two election systems (1990’s and 2000’s) where seats were contested by a two-round system in two-member districts, and 10 were appointed by the president; the new system reshaped in a way intended to provide a fair representation of parties, movements and ideologies, as well as new groups. For the parliamentary elections more than 30 new parties participated. The new parties were formed after January 25, 2011 and as a result, Egyptians had around 50 political parties to choose from. Following, a complex chart that illustrates how political parties are conformed in today’s Egypt:
Figure Source: http://www.arabist.net/blog/2011/11/13/mapping-egypts-politicalparties.html
The two most popular or known parties in Egypt are The Muslim Brotherhood which is considered the only well established and organized party, and the Al-Nour party, which is known for its radical ideals based on Islam. It was predicted that most of the
parliamentary seats were going to be taken by those two parties for the reasons mentioned, but also because there is no strong enough opposition.
Results of Elections The first round of parliamentary elections was filled with speculations as to who was going to win most of the seats. Before the results were drawn, both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Al-Nour parties proclaimed their victories. The Muslim Brotherhood announced winning 40% of the votes, while Al-Nour stated it got at least 30% of the votes. The resting 20% of the votes were counted in favor of the Egyptian Bloc, a coalition of “secular-leaning” liberal parties conformed by the Free Egyptians Party, the Egyptian Social democratic Party, and the Al-Tagammu Party. The Egyptian Bloc’s purpose is to counterbalance the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptian Bloc’s purpose is the creation of a civil democratic state where religion and state are separated; if the Muslim Brotherhood or Al-Nour parties win the majority, then state is going to be governed accordingly to the teachings of the Quran, something that the Egyptian Bloc is trying to avoid. But, who are the winners? Following you will find a brief explanation on who are the main political parties of Egypt.
Muslim Brotherhood: Islamic organization with a political approach to Islam. It was founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna in Egypt after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The reject secular tendencies of Islamic nations as well the presence of Western influences. Their motto states “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our
leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”27
Al-Nour Party: “Established in the wake of the 25 January uprising, Al-Nour (“The Light”) Party is the largest of Egypt’s three licensed Salafist parties (the other two being Al-Asala and Al-Fadila Parties). It was established by Al-Da‘wa Al-Salafiyya (“The Salafist Call”), Egypt’s largest Salafist group, commonly known as Al-Daawa Movement. Al-Daawa started in Alexandria where it now enjoys a considerable following.”28
The Egyptian Bloc: “The Egyptian Bloc consists of the Free Egyptians Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and Al-Tagammu Party. The Bloc is often portrayed as a “secular-leaning” alliance that seeks to counterbalance the influence of the Brotherhood led Democratic Alliance’s electoral coalition. Members of the Bloc announced in early November that their partnership is not simply a short-term electoral coalition, but encompasses a long-term political alliance aimed at turning Egypt into a civil democratic state… The Egyptian Bloc aims at bringing together political forces that are committed to a civil democratic state based on the separation between religion and politics… Under the slogan “together, we will achieve what is ours,” the Bloc’s campaign underscores goals of building a civil democratic state,
“The Muslim Brotherhood,” Jewish Virtual Library, accessed December 13, 2011, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Terrorism/muslimbrotherhood.html 28 “Al Nour Party,” Jadaliyya, Accessed December 13, 2011, http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/3171/al-nour-party 27
and promoting economic prosperity through a liberal economy committed to social justice.”29
Potential Consequences Based on First Round Results There are two ways to interpret the results from the elections: Political way, and religious way. Politically, “the outcome will indicate whether one of America's most important Middle East allies will remain secular or move down a more Islamic path, as have other countries swept up in the Arab Spring… Many liberals, leftists, Christians and pious Muslims who oppose mixing religion and politics went to the polls to try to reduce the scope of the Muslim Brotherhood's electoral gains.”30 Religiously, Christians and especially the Coptic Orthodox community are amongst the minorities that fear the results the most. The main reason for them to fear the results have to do with the imposition of more rigid Islamic rules in case one of the radical parties win, most specifically, the Al-Nour party due to its Salafis formation. Among the consequences are international shifts that could take place, and these shifts are based not only on the results of the Egyptian elections, but on the elections taking place in other MENA countries where the Arab Spring has taken place. “A reliable political map of the nation would also have an impact beyond Egypt's borders, serving as a guide to whether the close U.S. ally will continue to be the main source of moderation in the region and assume the mantle of a key advocate of Middle East peace. “Egyptian Block,” Jadaliyya, Accessed December 13, 2011, http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/3161/egyptian-bloc 30 Hamza Hendawi, Maggie Michael, “Egypt Elections: Voting Begins In First Parliamentary Polls Since Historic Revolt,” Huffington Post, November 28, 2011, Accessed December 12, 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/28/egyptelections_n_1115704.html 29
The election is the fruit of the Arab Spring revolts that have swept the region in the past year, toppling several authoritarian regimes. In Tunisia and Morocco, Islamic parties have come out winners in recent balloting, but if the much larger Egypt does the same, it could have an even greater impact.”31
The Role of Minority Groups Minority groups have not had an impacting role in the events taking place in Egypt since the revolt started in January of 2011. The only minority group that has been somehow active, or that has taken some of the attention away is the Coptic Orthodox community, a Christian minority that conforms about 10% of the Egyptian population, yet the number varied from source to source. The 2010 United Nations Statistics Report lacked with providing some real statistical reports about agriculture, tourism, education, among others. Worse yet, the report did not show any reports about minorities. Brian Whitaker from the TheGuardian News in an article from the UN report on Egypt wrote: “There are also some issues the Egyptian government (and others like it) would rather not talk about – and having no statistics is as good an excuse as any for shuffling them under the carpet. Sectarian tensions are one example that is considered too sensitive for thorough analysis. Egypt has no official statistics for the number of Christians among its citizens, though the total
plainly runs into the millions. There is also a lack of government data on sectarian hotspots”32 It is difficult to determine the real role of minorities in Egypt, especially if no data report their existence to the international community. The most notorious minority of Egypt is the Coptic Orthodox community, and the reason is because they constantly are under attacks from radical Islamic groups, but in recent events, they were the target of military individuals. During October of 2011, more that 20 Copts were killed by Military forces during a peaceful pro-Coptic protest taking place in Maspero, a locality of Egypt’s Cairo. The protest was conform by Copts and Muslims equally. The military never took responsibility for their acts and instead, it blamed Copts for the fatal results. Worse yet, the international community was absent from the incidents and no opinions were given in regards to the events.33 Sectarian violence against Egypt’s minorities has been present since the Arab conquest of Egypt in the 7th Century. Such violence could increase or decrease based on the results of the parliamentary elections currently taking place. Copts in particular fear the imposition of stricter Islamic laws that could make them second degree citizens; but some of the already feel like they had been second degree citizens due to the lack of opportunities given to them as a result of their cultural/religious background.
“An Ugly Fact About Egypt’s Stats,” Egypt in Revolt-New School Student Blog, Wordpress.com, September 20, 2011, Accessed December 9, 2010, http://egyptinrevolt.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/an-ugly-fact-about-egypts-stats/ 33 “Thousands Attend Coptic Funerals in Egypt,” Egypt in Revolt-New School Student Blog, Wordpress.com, September 20, 2011, Accessed December 9, 2010, http://egyptinrevolt.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/thousands-attend-coptic-funerals-inegypt/ 32
International Relations Egypt has been known for being United States’ most important ally in the region. The result of the parliamentary elections as well future presidential elections, will be decisive in the role that Egypt could play in the Middle East as well as the world. Regardless of the results, it seems convenient for Egypt to hold and keep the Camp David agreement with Israel so that the United States could continue to help Egypt financially as it has been for the past years. From the region, Egypt is the country that receives most of United States economic aid for different development projects. The importance of Egypt’s good relations with Israel and the United states could have an impact the construction of a Palestinian state. As published in the Council on Foreign Relations, there are many dynamics in between to guarantee good relations between Egypt and other states: “Assuming this is what happens in six or seven months time, the onus will be on the Muslim Brotherhood to assure the U.S. public that it doesn't harbor the same fanatical kind of worldview as Hamas. So the responsibility is on the Muslim Brotherhood, and a presidential candidate or a new president, to reassure the U.S. public, both in words and deeds that it will uphold the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1978, which led to the peace treaty in 1979, that it will not be committed to Israel's destruction, and that it will recognize Israel as a state. There will be debates about Israel as a Jewish state because they won't be prepared to concede that, but then it is up to the United States, especially Congress, to appreciate that Israeli and U.S. interests aren't served by marginalizing or trying to sanction Egypt or angering eighty-two million Egyptians. The strategic calculation is simple. The United States risks further isolating itself and minimizing its influence in the region by heading for a showdown with the elected parliament of the Egyptian people. It makes greater sense for the United States and Israel and the Egyptians to recognize the reality on the ground and try to
maintain the status quo while working toward a Palestinian state.”34 During a workshop held by the Chatham House in Cairo during September 28, 2011, some suggestions were drawn in order to guarantee that Egypt’s economy boosts amidst the revolution. Egypt’s economy highly relied in tourism but since the revolution started, the tourism sector has suffered great loses as tourists activities have decreased enormously due to security reasons. The suggestions that came out of the “Egypt in Transition Project” led by the Chatman House were: There is a need to address issues of corruption and crony capitalism, both of which are seen to have been endemic in Mubarak-era policies. There is also a desire for greater regionalism in Egypt’s economic policy. An economic union with other countries experiencing political transition could involve free movement of labor and capital, and a more integrated trade policy. The establishment of a set of rights and obligations for investors, consumers and workers would represent an important step towards creating a more just business environment, and should also contribute towards improved labor productivity. New mechanisms for collecting and publishing transparent financial information are strongly needed. These could be established through legislation that encourages greater information transparency. Other recommendations included: setting a minimum wage; focusing economic policy on the achievement of social justice; reforming the education system; and finding ways to make the public sector more efficient. (MENA Programme: Egypt Dialogue Workshop Report, Egypt’s Economy in the Transitional Period [London: Chatam House, 2011], 2) The political path that Egypt takes after their transitional period ends would depend entirely on the votes that are being casts since November of 2011. However, if Bernard Gwertzman, “Islamist and Egypt’s Future,” Council on Foreign Relations (December 2011), accessed December 14, 2011, http://www.cfr.org/egypt/islamistsegypts-future/p26717 34
corruption continues to take place then neo-liberal policies are going to still be in place if a similar government to Mubarak’s replaces what the people are fighting for. Looking for an alternative to neo-liberalism should be the priority of all Egyptians during the elections, but the concern rises in regards to corruptive entities that might lead Egypt to the same path as pre-revolution.
Conclusion By Diana Rodriguez
The overthrown on Hosni Mubarak brought joy to most of the Egyptian population but Egyptians along with some international actors started speculating about the future of Egypt. The end of the Mubarak Era did not mean the end of violent outbursts and protests in Egypt; to the contrary, the Egyptian people are still not satisfied with how their “government” is looking in the hands of the Egyptian Military. The Egyptian military has taken control over Egypt’s policies and regulations. Along with police enforcement, their brutality against Egyptians and protestors has increased considerably. Towards the last trimester of the year there have been plenty of confrontations where civilians have died in hands of either the police or the military. Since February of 2011, the Egyptian military has been taking the decisions they consider pertinent for the “wellbeing” of the population. Among those decisions was the rescheduling of parliamentary elections originally to take place during September of the present year, but that ended up taking place two months after. Prior to the elections, violent encounters between protestors and authority actors took place, which lead many to think that the elections were going to take place in a hostile environment.
To the surprise of many, the first round of parliamentary elections took place in a peaceful arena where the streets were flooded by Egyptians of all generations willing to vote for a change. Among the voters were people who admitted not voting in the past due to the corruption that is typical of political elections in the country, especially presidential elections. The elections attracted young generations looking for a better future with more opportunities, as well as all sectors of society including minorities who wish for an Egypt where state and religion are not united. The most active and visible minority is the one conformed by Coptic Orthodox Christians who fear that the Salafists take majority of seats in the parliament. Perhaps, thinking that the Salafists might have the chance of “ruling” Egypt is a fear that not only local actors fear, but also the international community due to the implications for the global community. Internationally, Egypt has been known for its positive and strong relations with the United States. Such relations should be kept intact for the benefit of the region, at least to some. But to more radical activists, the dislocation of such relations might mean less intervention of U.S. policies in the region which could lead to wider confrontation within the area, or to a different type of cooperation that some link to the European Union. But it seems that a cooperation pact of such type is far from taking place once one analysis the different events taking place throughout the MENA area. Egyptian protestors demanded more political rights, better salaries, more employment opportunities, and the end to emergency law among other things. The results of the revolution are going to take place along with the elections, but most important, once a new president is chosen and a new constitution is written. To speculate about what
is going to happen in Egypt is like speculation about what might happen in the rest of the regions, and that is because Egypt plays a vital role in the region when it comes to relations and agreements with global political leaders; not for nothing Egypt has been considered the mediator of the Middle East.
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