The events of 2011, which saw President Mubarak removed, and those of the past 48 hours in which the Egyptian army has removed and put the elected President Morsi under arrest have been both classified as 'revolutions' when they are better described as revolts or uprisings that the army exploited to their advantage.
The Egyptian revolts can not amount to a revolution which, by
definition, means the total overthrow of the existing political,
economic and social order. The overthrow of Mubarak was coordinated by
the army in response to the mass demonstrations of 'People Power' in Tahrir Square in Cairo no less that the removal of
The difference is that in 2011 the overthrow of Mubarak was broadly the removal of a dictator and the move towards a democratic system of elections. The problem was that the election of President Morsi did not see much of the structure of Mubarak's state dismantled or reformed but being used to promote
If anything, the events of 2011 and the past few days have seen Egypt
move towards a position akin to that of Turkey in the past and Latin
America where periods of parliamentary rule alternates with military
dictatorship and constitutional life continually restored or constantly threatened.
overthrow of Morsi may well be part of a longer process towards a
democratic 'political revolution' that is yet to be completed and that
is being driven by events on the streets. Yet the army controls 40% of
the Egyptian economy and employs 25% of the workforce.
to be a revolution the army would have to completely purge the Egyptian
state and civil institutions of Mubarak era hangovers and preside over a
period where the state is protected from potential attacks from
radicalised Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
Yet the radicals who
were prepared to go along with Morsi's more moderate course and the
Muslim Brotherhood's decision to take power through the ballot box as
opposed to Islamist revolution will now see the army's move as 'counter
revolutionary' because Morsi did gain 51% of the Egyptian vote.
Essentially, what there is
in Egypt is two conceptions of what revolution really ought to be, one
depending on Islamist notions that do not necessarily embrace democracy
as much more than a means of enforcing Godly authority, and a secular
idea of revolution against that authority and dictatorship.
A clash between the two is set
to happen in Cairo and only the army can prevent the potential spiral
into violence on the streets between two camps, one already massed in
Tahrir Square now departed along with Morsi's departure and the other yet to amass itself in opposition by occupying public spaces in Cairo in protest.
By all accounts the army's intervention has proved popular in Cairo
with the protesters which is why news of Morsi's removal was greeted
with euphoria-the army is seen as the guarantor of stability against
Islamist misrule, incompetence and economic collapse.
It is precisely
the instability that is hindering economic recovery and why the Egyptian
stock market bounced upwards when news of the army takeover was
announced. There has been and will be no 'revolution' but a carefully
choreographed managed transition.
Given that Egypt is polarised
between the poorer classes and struggling shopkeepers and traders who
support Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood and those poorer Egyptians who
are against Islamism, the army will try to preside over, if anything,
'top down reform' of the economy and the political system.
The alternative to a period of army rule now
that it has effectively been imposed, for right or wrong, is a complete
bloodbath. Whether that rule will be gradually used to promote
conciliation and pluralistic democracy under controlled circumstances
remains to be seen.