Where Egypt is at

Issandr El Amrani writes:

The #May 27 “Second Revolution” came and went this weekend without the drama that many had expected. Turnout was pretty good — good enough to show that the ranks of those unsatisfied with the current state of affairs is plenty big, and big enough to show that the Muslim Brothers’ participation is not essential to getting a decent number of people protesting. Impressive also was that the protests took place across the country, as Zeinobia points out with her gallery of videos. Get more videos and an account at Jadaliyya. It may not be a second revolution but it’s enough to keep the SCAF [Supreme Council of the Armed Forces] on its toes and give media traction to multiple grievances: high-ranking corruption, insecurity, slow justice, heavy-handedness of the military, etc.

Although many of these grievances are indeed worthwhile, this opposition movement should start coalescing over one or two core demands with regards to the transition. It has already been a tragedy of Egypt’s revolution that the revolutionaries did not have a clear aim beyond the removal of Mubarak and that the post-Mubarak transition has been handled poorly, to say the least, by a SCAF that is guilty of bumbling incompetence perhaps more than malice. In particular, the transition process could have been more along the lines of Tunisia’s, with an elected constituent assembly rather than one appointed by parliament and independent commissions to investigate corruption as well as violence. The real drama, it seems to me, is that right now transitional justice consists of immediately going after certain persons (those close to Gamal Mubarak) yet only going after older apparatchiks (NDP apparatchiks, etc.) after popular pressure forced the SCAF to. And, most of all, a piecemeal approach to trying former officials: consider that Hosni Mubarak has just been fined for cutting off the internet, and may only be tried for the violence during the revolution, while not being held accountable for 30 years of autocracy.

To me, this should be the focus of the opposition: obtaining a real truth and reconciliation process that holds the regime, as a system, accountable and features the televised testimony of both its victims and participants. If Egyptians try to gloss over the Mubarak era as a question of a few bad apples and then quickly move on, they risk losing a more important understanding of what was the Mubarak regime (and institutions like State Security) and lose the chance of making a clean break. The other demand may be about postponement of elections, but then it has to make on sound grounds (as I discussed a few days ago) with concrete proposals on who will rule in the meantime — including explaining what would make a transitional presidential council more legitimate than the SCAF.

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