Optimism about the Egyptian revolution

Rami Khouri sings the praises of Egypt’s transitional period. It’s not the most clearly-written piece, but it does make an oft-missed point: there’s a real give-and-take to Egyptian politics today that bodes well for a future in which political forces compromise, rather than simply try to shout down or discredit their opponents.

SCAF has been arrogant, incompetent, and brutal — but inconsistently so. You have flashes of Mubarak-style finger-waving followed by flashes of very un-Mubaraky compromise. Mubarak would do virtually anything to avoid showing weakness, to avoid giving the impression that he was led by the street, to give himself a sense of permanence. SCAF seems to want to give the opposite impression. They hate strikes and protests, and are incredibly thin-skinned about criticism, but they also seem to want to squelch any speculation that they have any agenda other than keeping order until they can hand over power. (And retaining the military as their own private fief, of course).

My colleague Issandr makes another, longer case for optimism here. (There are several arguments on this page, but Issandr’s is the one with which I most agree.) There seems to to be an unrealistically high bar for many people in terms of considering the January 25 revolution, or uprising, or whatever you want to call it a success. Is Egypt going to be the countries that the revolutionaries dream about? No. But it’s more likely to be a more pluralistic country where political parties and NGOs are better positioned to work towards real change where it matters — controlling corruption, reducing police brutality — as opposed to having the same old faces beat you and cheat you again and again, year after year, because Mubarak has determine that they are useful to his retention of power.



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