Egypt’s unfinished revolution

Charles Holmes writes: The ideological vision of Gamal Abdel Nasser, who led the 1952 revolution that overthrew Egypt’s monarchy, has defined the last six decades of Egyptian politics: Arab nationalism, vehement anti-colonialism, the nationalization of the country’s economy, and the preeminence of the military are the foundation on which modern Egypt is built. While Nasserism was arguably successful in helping Egypt emerge from its political past, it has long been in slow decline — and is now on the verge of collapse.

The crumbling of the Mubarak regime two years ago momentarily wrenched Egypt’s population out of a decades-old slumber. But today, many vestiges of Nasser’s Egypt — key structures of state, society, and the economy — linger on. They are the creaking, dysfunctional machinery of a protectionist system still striving to shut out the forces of modernity and globalization in order to preserve the vested interests of an elite few.

Egypt’s insidious state security establishment is a prime example of the country’s unfinished revolution. The Jan. 25 protests proved to be the watershed moment when — for all its networks of informants, secret police officers, and legions of thugs — it had no answer to modern technology, digital media, and mobile communications. While describing the uprising as a “Facebook Revolution” remains misleading, protesters understood how their technological advantages enabled them to outmaneuver a clumsy and brutal security apparatus. Two years on, however, the Interior Ministry remains unreformed, the scars of years of brutalization of Egyptian society are yet to be healed, and civilian law enforcement faces an undetermined future.

Depressingly then, though no less predictably, the Muslim Brotherhood has quickly revealed itself as representing a continuation of this broken system. [Continue reading…]

The Associated Press reports: Violence erupted across Egypt on Friday as tens of thousands took to the streets to deliver an angry backlash against President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, demanding regime change on the second anniversary of the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak. At least seven people were killed.

Two years to the day after protesters first rose up against the autocratic ex-president, the new phase of Egypt’s upheaval was on display: the struggle between ruling Islamists and their opponents, played out against the backdrop of a worsening economy.

Rallies turned to clashes in multiple cities around Egypt, with police firing tear gas and protesters throwing stones. At least six people, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed in Suez, where protesters set ablaze a building that once housed the city’s local government. Another person died in clashes in Ismailia, another Suez Canal city east of Cairo.

At least 480 people were injured nationwide, the Health Ministry said, including five with gunshot wounds in Suez, raising the possibility of a higher death toll.

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