The world has been seeing a whole new era in people’s intolerance of governments, particularly dictatorships, in the Arab world. Egyptians started a contagious revolution in that region in February when they began protesting. Ultimately, the government of Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power. The will of the people prevailed. Mr. Mubarak had since fled the country only to eventually be arrested and taken to court on human rights charges. Images of the former president being wheeled into court on a patient’s bed were embedded in the minds of people around the world.
Since then, Libya has also experienced its own revolution with the killing of Gaddafi after forty years in power. Syria seems to be the next likely place where the Egyptian-ignited Arab revolution will manifest itself.
One would have thought, then, that the people in Egypt would have been quite pleased with themselves for ushering the dawn of a new democratic era in the Arab community. Dictators are now being given the red light. Enough is enough. But, alas, Egypt is a place of civil unrest once again. So what has gone wrong? Or is it that the Egyptians were just being mere anti-government rebels all along and just want anarchy to reign?
The conditions under which Hosni Mubarak left office included turning power over to the military. The country’s population was expecting that the military would initiate the relevant mechanisms to oversee a smooth transition of power to a democratically elected government, particularly a civilian president.
The military had initially been giving an indefinite time table when the people’s wishes would be granted. Since the February 2011 revolution, life in Egypt has continued to be difficult for Egyptian citizens. A key instrument of the former Mubarak administration was the brutal force meted out to citizens who were not seen as fully compliant with government policies or requests. This sort of repression has not changed in the last nine months or so.
Additionally, the military had put in charge a minister from the same Hosni Mubarak’s government, Hussein Tantawi. In February, the protestors in Tahrir Square were shouting in unison that the people and the army are one. Today, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians are gathered again in Tahrir Square now singing a different tune. They want Hussein Tantawi to leave his position immediately. In fact, Tantawi is now seen as a Field Marshall wielding as much violent influence on the people as did Mubarak himself. So, as far as the Egyptians are concerned, the Mubarak government is still running the country.
The people want none of it. That would defeat the purpose of the whole revolution. In response to this the military leaders have said that they will try to speed up the election of a president by July 2012; however, the intention has been decisively dismissed by the Tahrir Square protesters. In just the last few days more than forty persons have been allegedly killed and hundreds more wounded by the force of the military. Since Mubarak left in February over twelve thousand Egyptians have been injured by the military, so the people again are saying enough is enough.
The military also asked to meet with human interest groups and leaders to iron out a deal in order to move forward. Many of the leaders from the democratic based platform decided not to show as a means of standing in solidarity with the masses. But the Muslim Brotherhood met with the military and they reached a deal of sorts. The trouble is that the population believes that the military and the Muslim Brotherhood are in bed together as the Islamic group has much to gain should parliamentary elections be called quickly. Apparently, the Muslim Brotherhood is able to coerce its supporters into voting along its political lines.
Any alliance between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood seems likely to be a futile one. As it is now, the revolutionary movement wants an immediate interim civilian council to be put in place. Mohamed ElBaradei, Nobel Peace laureate is seen as a possible leader to be included on such a democratic council.
It is interesting to note as well that even though the Field Marshall Tantawi has spoken to the phenomenal crowds in Tahrir Square in an attempt to quell the situation, his words were like water running off a duck’s back. He only achieved a de ja vu: people saw Mubarak as the one addressing them.
I hope the rest of the world, and its people, are learning a lesson from the Egyptians. It is exemplary that a nation with such long and rich history is once again setting the pace for the perseverance and determination of a people to see that their democratic wishes are granted. After all, a government is supposed to work for the people, not the other way around.