Egypt After the Arab Spring

A View From Cairo

Almost nine months after Hosni Mubarak resigned, activists are saying that not much has changed in Egypt since the revolution. Human rights violations and the division of political powers are some of the main obstacles Egypt is facing during this period of transition.

“The army is mismanaging the transition stage and wasting precious time,” said Said Sadek, a Political Sociology professor in the American University in Cairo. “Army generals want to secure their rights and interests in the future Egypt.”

Immediately after ousting Mubarak on Feb. 11, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces took control of the country and pledged to hand over the power after six months to a democratically elected president.

However, the SCAF was reluctant to answer the demands of the protesters. Demonstrators thronged to Tahrir square almost every Friday, reminding the SCAF of its promises, eventually urging it to step down.

On Oct. 9, armored military vehicles sped into a crowd of protesters, mostly Coptic Christians, to crack down on protests near Cairo’s state television. At least 25 people were killed.

This was the worst violence seen since ousting Mubarak and fostered public doubt of the military’s ability to steer the country peacefully towards democracy.

“The old regime is still controlling the state,” said Mahmoud Abdelreheem, a political activist and freelance journalist. “The military council is composed of Mubarak’s men who do not want a radical change.”

Abdekreheem is also concerned with the freedom of the media. “Media is still pursuing the same old regime’s doctrine,” he said. “Official media is controlled by the junta and private media is owned by Mubarak’s loyalists.”

Although political forces have become more active since Mubarak’s ousting, they are fragmented, said Ashraf Rady, a political analyst and activist.

“The revolution did not lead to a substantial change in the political landscape,” said Rady. “The political forces are still divided into four main political camps: the national, the Islamic, the socialist, and the liberal, but new forces emerged in the last three camps.”

The Muslim Brotherhood wants to assert their political domination but suffer from dwindling support after the emergence of these forces within the Islamic political camp.

Sadek said if the army generals, Islamists, secularists and liberal Coptics reached a deal, “there will be a democracy. If not, chaos will prevail for some time before one force takes over.”

Months after the world saw Egyptians joyously hoisting the red, black and white flag in the air, they are still working to achieve democracy and stability in their country.

“It is very hard to forecast the future of political life in Egypt because of the lack of transparency,” said Abdelreheem. “Indicators do not point to a real democratic change and the socio-economic base of the population may not change soon—which may lead to a deep disappointment.”

This week, the interim government announced plans to draft the new constitution for Egypt, which would exponentially increase their political power.