Erin Cunningham (@erinmcunningham) January 25, 2015
Ayman Mohyeldin (@AymanM) January 25, 2015
I appreciate the desire to offer some encouragement to Egyptian citizens who supported January 25, and I agree that it is important to keep thinking of how to be active, even under these terrible circumstances[.] I also agree that we are not just back to the old days — there was a huge rupture, and even if the hopes it raised were defeated, the repressive techniques employed to achieve this (media propaganda; Saudi subsidies; massive repression; a shameful politicization of the judiciary) are destabilizing and seemingly untenable in the long-term. But I take a much darker view of the kind of days we’re in. People used to say that the revolution had brought down the wall of fear and it could never be back up; I think the army and police have done a great reconstruction job. Virtually every institution in Egypt is worse off than it was four years ago; a big segment of society has been complicit — out of fear, ignorance, self-interest — with the falsification of its own history and with granting impunity for state injustice and violence.
But Eric Trager doubts that most Egyptians, content with the devil they know, will pursue another uprising:
Sisi appears to have staying power. This is party due to the fact that the state is performing better under his stewardship in certain critical respects. Bread shortages have diminished, a smart-card system for distributing subsidized bread is being implemented, and Sisi announced major gas-subsidy cuts during his first month in office—a vital cost-cutting measure. It is also partly due to his repression of the opposition, including a severe crackdown on the Brotherhood and the arrest of many prominent revolutionary activists under a 2013 law that significantly limits protest activity.
But perhaps the most important reason for Sisi’s staying power is the popular mood, which is a cocktail of weariness and relief. Egyptians are exhausted after four years of tumult, but at the same time satisfied that their country hasn’t suffered the devastating chaos of Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. So while many of the economic and demographic problems that caused the 2011 uprising haven’t been resolved, a critical mass of Egyptians now prefer their broken state to spinning the wheel again and risking further collapse.
A more hopeful H.A. Hellyer advises the veterans of Tahrir Square to be more organized, plan longer-term political strategies, and get back to the basics:
[The revolutionaries must] remain cognizant of what has distinguished it. The core of the January 25 revolutionary uprising was speaking truth to power. That is a tremendous stance of ideational power, if not political power. While the revolutionary camp may sometimes embrace certain fixed and regular political personalities or forces, it ought never to make the mistake of confusing its mission with that of simply acquiring a power position.