SPEAKING FREELY Fourth revolutionary wave to engulf Egypt
By Nicola Nasser
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A fourth wave of the Egyptian revolution seems inevitable, until the revolution changes the regime or the regime emerges victorious, with another revolution waiting in the wings.
The revolution that removed the former president Hosni Mubarak from power on January 25, 2011 and, in its second wave, overwhelmed the first anniversary of his elected successor
Mohammad Morsi on June 30, 2013 - with millions of anti-Muslim Brotherhood protesters venting anger until the military intervened to remove him three days later - is now entering its third stage without being completed, fulfilled or finished.
In a statement issued on July 27, 2013, US Secretary of State John Kerry grasped the fact that the revolution has not yet run its course. "Its final verdict is not yet decided," he said, "but it will be forever impacted by what happens right now." He described the situation as a "pivotal moment for Egypt."
In 1981, John C Campbell, writing in Foreign Policy, described the Middle East as "a house of containment built on shifting sands," from the perspective of the United States. His description still applies today, no better than to the current state of affairs in Egypt, where the state has become more like a house of cards on shifting sands.
So far, Egypt's revolution has been more like a regime exchange than a regime change.The old pro-US market economy centers of power has merely rotated power among the liberal "remnants" of the Mubarak regime and the conservatives of his opposition led by the Muslim Brotherhood, with the military playing the role of the arbiter. For example, the Sawiris family billionaires who were milking them are now coming back after they were replaced by the billionaire and MB leader Khairat al-Shater and his ilks during the Morsi era. They were thus far successful in derailing and containing the revolution, which has changed nothing of the old regime, neither internally nor externally.
This rotation of power has so far proved an effective mechanism in containing the revolution and derailing it away from evolving into a new order. The political polarization along these lines is another mechanism; Mazda Majidi on July 20 wrote on the website of the US Party of Socialism and Liberation: "A long confrontation with the military on one side and Brotherhood supporters on the other could yield a situation where the people in the streets right now will be sidelined," and consequently their revolution aborted.
Washington is adapting to this "regime exchange" in order to prevent a "change in the regime," which the successive US administrations have nurtured as a strategic asset to both the United States and its Israeli regional ally since the Camp David accords of 1979.
Answering his question whether the removal of Morsi was a US-engineered coup, Majidi wrote: "Washington would have had no incentive to orchestrate a military coup to overthrow the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)"; Morsi "worked well with the US," "played a key role" in brokering a truce between Israel and Hamas in late 2012", and that in the conflict in Syria, he and the MB "were solidly behind the US effort to overthrow the Syrian state". Accordingly, "Washington could live with Morsi, but it obviously has no problems with Egypt's military", who are the most committed to the strategic ties with the US and the best guardians of the peace treaty with Israel.
Maintaining or discarding those ties and that treaty will undoubtedly be the most vital dividing line externally between fulfilling the Egyptian revolution and derailing it away from disturbing the regional balance of power and status quo, which both the US and the Israeli beneficiaries thereof have nurtured during the past more than three decades as their "holy cow".
No surprise, therefore, that the internal threats to this status quo have become the concern of the US and Israeli allies, but Israel in particular. Israeli leaders seemed on alert to preempt this threat. On July 26, President Shimon Peres said in an Al-Hurra TV channel: "What is politics if it can't provide people with bread?" Backed by US Republican Senator Rand Paul, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now urging the West to adopt a new "Marshall Plan" for the Egyptian economy.
Within this context monitors could interpret the US refusal to label the Egyptian military latest intervention on July 3 as a coup, lest the Barak Obama administration become obliged by law to cut the US aid to Egypt. Similarly Qatar, which had sponsored the Morsi-led government, would not withdraw its US$7 billion support to Egypt. The same applies to the $12 billion financial support promptly extended by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait within 48 hours of the latest "exchange" of power in Egypt; which, in view of the US strategic alliance with the three countries, could not have been promptly forthcoming without a US "green light", according to anti-American analysts.
Any US-Israeli "Marshall Plan," however, will only be another mechanism to maintain and reinforce the status quo and will not change the regime in Egypt, let alone bringing in a new regime.
Beneficiaries of the status quo are keen to prove to the revolting masses that their revolution has thus far made their bad situation worse: Economically, significant capital has fled abroad, Egypt's debt has reached 88% of its GDP, tourism has collapsed, agriculture hit hard, foreign investment has declined, labor unrest has spread, unemployment is on the rise, inflation has soared, economic growth plunged, public finances are in a mess, half of Egyptians live at or below poverty line, etc., and personal safety and public security have become a daily headache, with the harassment of women becoming a social phenomenon.
And in the name of democracy, according to Jon Lee Anderson, writing in The New Yorker on July 5, "the devils long contained in Egypt's national Pandora's box having been loosened from their chains," so "as if everything in Egypt must now be performed by the mob, for the mob, in full view of everyone."
Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online's regular contributors.