Regroup Now!

We are under attack and our dreams are under siege. After a little over three months it is becoming deadly clear that certain forces are trying to outflank us, and they have already had some success. We must regroup now or all is lost and noble sentiments and aspirations that we experienced will be nothing more than a fading memory. The stuff of lamentations over what could have been and how we it let slip our grasp.

Some readers at this point might object: What are you whining about? Why this talk of gloom, conspiracy and dark forces? Shouldn’t we be focused on the upcoming parliamentary elections?

Let me first try to go over what we have managed to accomplish:

  1. We got most of Mubark’s coterie under detention and they are being tried for corruption
  2. Mubark, his sons, and wife are facing charges of corruption (though no criminal charges have been pressed yet). 
  3. We have temporary constitution that limits the power of the president, and the duration of his/her presidency (never mind that it gives the supreme councle of the armed forces [SCAF] unchecked power for the time being). 
  4. We have some sort of road map for democratic transition where we are having  parliamentary elections in September, followed by presidential elections six months later. 
  5. We have Prime Minster who supported the revolution, and who many still believe is genuinely a decent person (though many have doubts about his ability to assert the demands of the revolution). 

So why complain? Can’t we just hold-on for a few more months and get the representative parliament of our dreams and then a few more a get an elected president? The SCAF and government seem to be telling us to do just that. They don’t seem to like people expressing any sort of complaints or grievances. They even managed to pass an anti-protest law!!! Quite ironic, after a revolution. It all boils down to a crisis of trust.

Trust broken with a butt of a gun
In the early hours of the February the 26th, I stood with a couple of hundred revolutionaries in front of the People’s Assembly building. We were all gathered for sit-in, demanding that Shafik and his cabinet step-down. This was the same cabinet that Mubarak put in place in his last days and that the SCAF had kept for mysterious reasons. That night many of us were severely beaten, electrocuted, and subject all sorts of abuse. In one harrowing account of the torture that went on that night, it is clear that many in the army are still loyal to Mubarak. The army officers reveled in forcing the protesters to cry “long live Mubarak”. I was lucky to have escaped being captured, I was running and hiding in nearby streets.

The SCAF tried to deny any wrong doing and often declared that it never incarcerated any of the protesters. Their narrative does not hold much water, and runs counter to the many eye witness accounts. The SCAF has shown itself very trusting of the late regime’s corrupt figures. This was clearly  demonstrated in the appointment of the governors, many of who were from the minister of interior who were notorious for their involvement in torture cases, and others who have often spoken out vocally against the revolution.

The SCAF reputation now reeks of anything  to but trustworthiness. I firmly believe it becoming exceedingly hard to see them as honorable custodian of our revolution. Their decision making is opaque and their actions are far from comforting. It is very hard to explain how the army highly trained special forces were being used to hunt and incarcerate protesters while idling when churches were being burnt or peaceful  protesters were being shot at.

Why regroup, why a second Friday of Anger?
The SCAF has proven itself to be at best incompetent in helping achieve the demands of the revolution, and at worst having designs on post revolutionary political landscape to serve the best interests of the SCAF generals. The SCAF generals maintain massive economic interests and no civilian oversight. One can see that it would be hard for generals to abandon many of their perks for the greater interest of the country. I find it very suspicious that a supposed scholar like Moataz Abdel-Fattah tries to push forth the notion that SCAF is totally immune to ambitions of its generals and that there is something, that almost veers on the supernatural, the will make them the honest executors of the people’s will. Recalling the faces of the soldiers chasing in on February 26th and their determination to capture and torture makes me immune such flimsy (or more likely disingenuous)  arguments.

What do we do? Fire the SCAF?
The SCAF for all its sins still maintains a semblance of stability and yet we would never trade away our freedom and our revolution for this poor attempt at maintaining “order”. We are pressing forward demands that we hope will keep the SCAF straight, yet those demands are still being worked out, refined and crystallized.

Over the past few months a great deal of trust has been eroded and it is about time that SCAF pays attention to the revolutionaries and stop trying to undermine the spirit of the revolution.  I am looking forward to May27 where amongst a sea of competing memes, the best ones will dominate.

What does the situation look like now?
It is best captured in this brilliant graffiti by Ganzeer showing a taking facing of a bicycle. The revolutionaries are doing the difficult act of moving forward while balancing a bread tray over their head. The bread tray is future of Egypt. The tank (SCAF) seems to be standing in the way. Together we can force the tank to change direction, and we are far more powerful than what naive sizing up of strength may suggest.

One thought on “Regroup Now!

  1. At your suggestion, here is my original e-mail to you posted here as a comment for your other readers’ benefit. I am still a little trepidatious about assuming that my opinions are more than obliquely relevant. I feel I am far from understanding the current circumstances much less the larger cultural context.

    – Steve
    Mohammed –

    I just read your latest blog post.

    I hope that this type of insightful post helps others to relieve the symptoms of factionation that is interfering with thoughtful long-term strategies for a carefully crafted constitution.

    In a time of turmoil, it is natural that many will seek short-term, tactical advantage for their own interests, but in every organization or group there will also be those who recognize the long-term strategic advantage of continuing to work together toward the common goal of a workable constitution for everyone.

    I am not by any means knowledgeable of the factions you describe but your description suggest that many of the parties do NOT generally have an interest in the constitution that we can hope the majority seeks. With that in mind, i understand your concern that one (or more) of the factions will gain advantage and force through things which are not in the collective interest.

    Having said that, I do believe the adage that “Democracy is the Tyranny of the Majority over the Minority” and of course, THAT only when it is actually working well! With that in mind, I wonder at what those with a possible majority (by compromise) can do to truly alleviate the consequences of that? What does the SCAF need that a good constitution for/by/of the people? The Muslim Brotherhood? The SCAF would seem more problematic (from my distance), their interests being based in a lifetime of elite advantage, while the MB would seem (also from my interest) to be more sincere in their interests, even if they might be radical. Within the many factions, can one find true “statesmen” who are truly interested in the good of the group?

    I did not post this as a comment on your blog, as I am not sure if it is helpful to your other readers… If you do feel that it is, I am happy to contribute there. While I believe in open discourse, as an outsider to the people most effected from this, I want to be sensitive to my lack of investment or relevance to the situation.

    Keep up the good work,
    – Steve

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