Takes on the Mubarak verdict

My column at the National develops a theme I developed on Twitter: In Egypt, a pharaoh falls and the mameluks march on - The National

It is as if the regime's figureheads were sacrificed to save the caste of security officials who still run the country - perhaps reassuring their many colleagues who remain in positions of influence that they are safe and that there will only be token accounting for past crimes.

Egypt may be mostly associated with its pharaonic past and god-kings, but in this case the appropriate historical analogy is more recent: a pharaoh is taking the fall for the military class, the mameluks.

These mameluks, the vast caste of officers and officials (uniformed or not) who continue to rule Egypt, have taken it upon themselves to redefine the revolution. This is taking place amid a larger battle in Egyptian society to define post-Mubarak Egypt.

The young revolutionaries who led the protests last year want, above all, a rupture with the past and to construct a more open society. The Islamists who were late backers of the uprising want to build a more just society by making both society and government more Islamic.

And the generals who now govern, for their part, are trying to redefine "revolution" as simply the removal of Mubarak and a handful of his cronies. As Ahmed Shafiq, the presidential candidate and former air force general who stands a good chance of being Egypt's next president allegedly put it last week: "The revolution is over."

For him it ended with the removal of Mubarak. For others, however, it has just begun.

Also check out this in The Economist, taking a look at the political/electoral impact: A verdict in Egypt: Back to the square | The Economist.

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.