Egyptians want to move on
The public reaction was predictably muted. People are tired and just want to get on with life. For most, Mubarak is not only old and inconsequential but also old news. However, the revolutionary youth, especially those who lost family members and friends in 2011 are in no mood to forgive and forget. Hundreds headed for Tahrir Square to vent their anger and were soon pushed out by security forces into nearby streets.
The protest, organized by the April 6th movement, that’s long been calling for yet another anti-government uprising, was peaceful until it was infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood swelling the numbers into the thousands. Ultimately, the crowd was dispersed by police using tear gas and birdshot. The question uppermost on people’s minds now is just how far these young activists, fantasizing about a western-style democracy, plan to go in its pursuit.
As idealistic as some clearly are, while others want an eye-for-an-eye, they have almost no chance of success. This is primarily because the bulk of the population, which considers the Muslim Brotherhood to be their number one enemy, isn’t on board — and, if they go to extremes, their efforts will be broadly resented. Secondly, the country cannot withstand another revolution; indeed, its survival depends on security, stability and economic health. Another president, another government, another constitution and yet another round of elections would signal the state’s death knell at a time when tangible progress is taking place on just about every front.
The economy is slowly moving into positive territory as confirmed by ratings agencies and financial institutions. The tourist industry, which has been on its knees for almost four years, is witnessing a major upturn. There are a slew of new infrastructure projects in the pipeline, not least of which is the parallel Suez Canal as well as thousands of new schools and homes to house the poor.
Moreover, President El-Sissi has cemented new partnerships and signed cooperation agreements with important nations, such as France, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Algeria. Should those seeking to overturn the government get their wish, local investment would dry up, foreign investors would head for the hills and, no doubt, Egypt’s friends who’ve generously kept this nation afloat, would be forced to turn their backs, rather than pour good money after bad. There is no doubt that Egypt would be perceived as a failed state, held hostage by a disgruntled, fickle minority. Regaining confidence would be a mammoth task that would take years, if not decades. The fiscal debt would grow. Lenders would fade away. The state coffers would fast empty. Businesses would close. Jobs would be lost. Electricity cuts would be frequent and lengthy. The Egyptian pound would lose its value against foreign currencies. Inflation would soar.
Unfortunately, Egypt’s revolutionary youth are propelled by emotion rather than reason; they’re unable or unwilling to see the big picture. They’re out to tear down rather than build. They know what they don’t want, but when asked what they do, they invariably have no convincing answer. At least two I’ve spoken with told me they would like to see some kind of revolutionary council running the country instead of a government!!!
Cabinet ministers, who’ve been working hard to get their country back on course, must feel a bit like Sisyphus who was destined to roll a boulder up a hill for all eternity only to see it roll down again. Moreover, the authorities are between a rock and a hard place. Condemned by human rights agencies and the West for implementing authoritarian laws and measures, if they were to loosen their grip, chaos would undoubtedly ensue.
On Friday, the massive show of force, put on by the army and the police in terms of checkpoints, tanks, helicopters and Special Forces thwarted the violent intentions of the renegade Salafist Front, which partnered with the Brotherhood to foment an “Islamic Revolution.” In the end, it was a damp squib. They admitted their failure publicly. Indeed, there were more people in the streets around the country chanting “the people and the army, one hand” than there were anti-government protesters.
Volatility caused by the few will hurt the many. Revolutions are always tinged by romance. We humans love to identify with the underdog. But in the case of Egypt, let’s not forget that the true underdogs are those many millions fighting to put bread on the table or buy new shoes for their kids.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view