The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

More on the counter-revolution

This is going to be a bleak post, taking stock of some of the worrying developments of the last week:

- The re-invocation of Emergency Law, plus redundant, extra-repressive bells and whistles (see Issandr's post) clearly aimed at anybody (the media, unions, NGOs) who might be thinking about challenging the SCAF

- The crack-down on Al Jazeera's live Egypt channel and the general intimidation of the media 

- Rumours that the SCAF will appoint members of the constitutional assembly (rather than have parliament select them), going back on the agreed-to process sanctioned by last March's referendum -- and a dawning realization that presidential elections may not take place till mid-2012

- A judicial and political transition process that remains deeply (deliberately?) muddled, with almost all political parties criticizing the (as yet to be finalized) new electoral law, the new districting plan, the lack of a clear time-table -- to little avail. 

- A security apparatus that remains resistant to all change -- except for a name change -- and incapable of facing the country's quite real crime wave

- An opposition and protest movement that is more fragmented than ever, still stuck playing Tahrir politics 

Of course the activists who have been skeptical of the army from day one will say: Why are you surprised?

It's not that here at Arabist we haven't seen the counter-revolution coming all along; but I for one had hoped that it would be more greatly constrained, by international pressure and above all by domestic expectations and public opinion. As is, the most "deafening silence" these days is that of the many Egyptians, who -- presented with the stale old choice between "stability" and "chaos" -- seem to have decided that the generals need an even free-er hand to put the house in order. 

Seven months after Mubarak was forced out of power, Egypt is being run by an authoritarian, unelected and unaccountable executive that resorts to the same tired security logic and the same insidious allegations of foreign manipulation and -- perhaps most disturbingly of all -- has created a greater layer fear and denial around any critical discussion of its actions than the late Mubarak regime had. 

Add to that an American administration that would rather find its accommodation with the status quo than support risky but real democratization; a civil society on the defensive; and political groups who are continue making demands and offering advice to the SCAF that it routinely ignores.

This is not to say that I don't still have faith and hope in Egyptians' desire for change or ability to rally. But let's just say we're at a low point. The only wild card at the moment is the threatening storm of labour unrest, withstudentsdoctors and teachers all initiating or planning major strikes.