31/01/2017

Six years after: the Egyptian Revolution

By Chloé de Radzitzky

It has been now six years since Egyptians mobilized in Cairo and in other cities of Egypt to denounce the poor economic conditions; and police violence committed by the Mubarak regime. These uprisings occurred ten days after the beginning of the Tunisian revolution, and were quickly transformed into a revolution demanding the fall of the regime. Egyptian president Al Sissi pronounced a speech for this occasion in which he congratulates the direction took by his country[1]. He asked the young people having participated in the revolution that the country « needed their efforts to continue to move forward on the path of the reform, the construction and the development « [2]. However, as during the previous anniversaries of the uprising, the president required the police to be present in the streets of Cairo to avoid any demonstrations.

 

If Sissi congratulates himself on the direction which took his country, certain experts regret the Egyptian economic, social and political situation since its arrival to power. They consider the outcomes of the Egyptian revolution as mitigated. First of all there was no real change at the level of the power. Second, the claiming concerning the social justice, the democracy and the economy did not manage to be concretized.

 

The realization of a real revolution requires a radical and rapid change within the structures of the state, (as much at the level of the institutions as  » in that of the people occupying positions with being able to) as well as in the structure of the social orders and ideology[3]. However, these changes did not occurred in the Egyptian case. Indeed, the Egyptian revolution occurred so quickly that the opposition did not have time to set up foundations for a new State institutional order. Furthermore, the fact that the army committed a coup d’état dismissing of its functions the democratically elected president democratically Mohammed Morsi echoed the words of Asef Bayât[4]. He asserts that a risk of sabotage by the former elites exists during the aftermath of a revolution. To survive, the revolutions must revolutionary enough to avoid the restoration of the old regime. If the army had declared itself neutral during the revolution, it was nonetheless part of circles gravitating around Mubarak. Consequently, the Egyptian revolts failed to cause this radical change in the structures of the State ; and to fully achieve its revolutionary goals.

 

Concerning the causes having led Egyptians to rise up itself against the Mubarak regime, the inheritance of January 25th revolts is also disappointing. Since his coming to power, President Sissi took several measures to limit the space within which the civil society could express itself, limiting to gain earned during the uprising. He created an « anti-demonstration » law in November, 2013; and hundreds of activists are now behind bars to have violated it[5].More recently, a project of bill was proposed to the parliament prohibiting human rights organizations; as well as organizations financed by the international community such as the UN, to act on the Egyptian territory.

 

The economic situation of the country is hardly better; and the efforts of the current regime are constrained by corruption that already existed during the area Mubarak. Indeed, the private sector is dominated by a small number of companies occupying a position favored within the system. These limit the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises, contract the creation of new jobs to absorb people present on the labor market[6]. The unemployment rate has risen by 3,5% since 2011[7]. Moreover, the increase the population growth rate led to further pressure on infrastructures.

 

In conclusion, the hopes carried by the Egyptian revolution are far from having become a reality. Indeed, police brutality, repression of the activities and the journalists, the disastrous economic situation and the dominance of the pro-governmental elements to the parliament bring certain experts to believe the current regime to be a worse dictatorship than the one preceding the revolts of 2011[8]. However, hopes for new uprising are not lost. Revolutions are slow processes that often face pressure coming from counter-revolutionary forces. Will the Egyptian people have the strength to rise up again to denounce its condition ?

[1] http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/01/egypt-war-attrition-revolutionaries-170125074249216.html

[2] http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/egypt-right-track-six-years-after-revolution-says-sisi-1169055645

[4]Asef Bayât in Haddad, Bassan, Rosie Bsheer and Ziad Abu Rish (eds.), The Dawn of the Arab Uprisings: End of an old order? (London: Pluto, 2012), Section 1

[5] http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/01/egypt-january-revolution-anniversary-alive-challenges.html

[6] http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/egypt-right-track-six-years-after-revolution-says-sisi-1169055645

[7] http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/egypt/overview

[8] http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/01/160122114637805.html