What else did anyone expect?, Re: A rude awakening under military rule, Toronto Globe & Mail, February 14, 2011

If the revolution in Egypt was all about democracy, improving the ordinary Egyptian’s quality of life and getting rid of corruption the Egyptian people are finding out how meaningless it really was. Egyptians are waking up on the morning after the night before and discovering that their revolutionary frenzy may lead to a few cosmetic changes but real, substantial change will remain as elusive as ever. The revolution was a failure from all three points of view and this will become more and more obvious as time goes by.

The new leaders of the country are the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The new head of state is Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the Council’s Chairman. Since taking power the Council has suspended the constitution, dissolved parliament, banned strikes, established martial law, given itself an open ended mandate, forcibly removed protesters from Tahrir Square and retained former President Mubarak’s cabinet, which will have to submit any new legislation to the Council for approval.

Some democracy. There may be “free and fair” elections at some unseen point in the future but the Council will spend the intervening time consolidating its power and there is absolutely no chance of anyone getting elected or any legislation being enshrined that it doesn’t approve of. The armed forces have been the de facto rulers of Egypt for 60 odd years and anyone who thinks they are going to relinquish their postion has blinders on. The Muslim Brotherhood is going to take over the reins of government at some stage but that will initially be with the armed forces approval and backing. There is no history of true democracy in Egypt and it isn’t going to be established in the foreseeable future either. The armed forces give up their power? Forget that. The Muslim Brotherhood will takeĀ it down the road but give it up before then? Not a chance.

The revolution is also not going to improve the ordinary Egyptian’s quality of life because the economy is broken and there is no possibility of fixing it because of the massive social resistance that would ensue, resistance which would make the revolution look miniscule by comparison…patching it here and there yes, fundamental changes leading to prosperity for all, no. Like the old government the new government is faced with high unemployment, rising food prices, regular shortages, an inability to attract foreign investment, rampant inflation, systemic poverty, a ballooning deficit and decreasing income. The revolution has exacerbated these problems, not diminished them and the resultant instability and uncertainty will make things worse, not better. Its really basic economics. None of the necessary building blocks of a successful economy are in place and the revolution isn’t going to put them there. Under the old government there was some degree of certainty and stability and some hope for the future, especially since it was keeping the Muslim Brotherhood and others of its ilk at bay. It could even be argued that until very recently the economy under Mubarak was improving and that many of the problems he faced were not of his own making. The revolution took all of that away and no new government is going to be able to replace it.

What about the revolution leading to a decrease in corruption? No way. The Supreme Council has been central to government corruption in Egypt and ordinary Egyptians are corrupt by nature anyway. Baksheesh anyone? None of that is going to change, revolution or no revolution. There may be a few show trials but nothing more.

In the fullness of time when we look back at the results of the revolution what will we see? We will see that it led to a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood, war in the Middle East and beyond and electoral defeat for President Obama because his handling of the situation was so obviously incompetent and so obviously at odds with the best interests of the United States.

Rude awakening indeed. What else did anyone expect?

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