Wednesday, 30 January 2013

EGYPT: The Unfinished Revolution'': Morsi orders to annul curfew

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has told provincial governors to ease or annul emergency procedures following the declaration of a state of emergency on Sunday. Egypt has seen at least 56 deaths in the past week as violent protests erupted in three major cities: Port Said, Ismailia and Suez. The Islamist President responded by declaring a state of emergency in the cities, and imposing a 9:00pm curfew for residents.

As three Egyptian cities defied President Mohamed Morsi's attempt to quell the anarchy spreading through their streets, the nation’s top general warned Tuesday that the state itself was in danger of collapse if the feuding civilian leaders could not agree on a solution to restore order.
 
The general’s warning punctuated a rash of violent protests across the country that has dramatized the near-collapse of the government’s authority. With the city of Port Said proclaiming its nominal independence, protesters demanded the resignation of Mr. Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, while people across the country appeared convinced that taking to the streets in protests was the only means to get redress for their grievances.
 
What is happening is obviously disturbing, but it is also a completely predictable and probably protracted struggle for power. And unless the ''Arab spring'' is quite atypical, the political revolutions that began two years ago are to take years to work out.
 
Revolutions are usually characterized by violence. Even when the old regime collapses quickly, there is likely to be a violent struggle afterwards. The issues at stake are enormous, because the process of redefining a political community places everyone's future at risk. Until a new order is firmly established, no one is safe from exclusion and the temptation to use force to enhance one's position is difficult to resist. The possibility that winners will take all and losers will lose everything heightens the level of suspicion and insecurity. Fears of plots and conspiracies abound. Disagreements over specific policies can become life-or-death struggles . . . and achieving consensus on what new rules and institutions should govern the society is likely to be a difficult and prolonged process.
 
The unfinished Egyptian Revolution follows the pattern of  others revolutions in history:  The Russian Revolution was also a prolonged process. The revolutions in Turkey, Mexico, China, and Iran were also violent and uncertain affairs, and in each case it took years before the final form of the new regime was reasonably well-established.
 
There are several lessons to take from the quick history of revolutions. First, unless the old guard somehow manages to regain full power quickly (thereby cutting off the revolutionary process), what is happening in Egypt (and elsewhere) will take a long time to work itself out.
 
Second, outside powers can influence this process, but they cannot do so predictably. In fact, the more extensive and heavy-handed outside interference is, the more likely it is to backfire.
Third, the revolutions tend to increase security competition and increase the risk of war. Among other things, they do this by altering the balance of power, creating fears of contagion, encouraging spirals of suspicion.
 
Just five months after Egypt’s president assumed power from the military, the cascading crisis revealed the depth of the distrust for the central government left by decades of autocracy, two years of convoluted transition and his own acknowledged missteps in facing the opposition. With cities in open rebellion and the police unable to tame crowds, the very fabric of society appears to be coming undone.
 
By Guylain Gustave Moke
Political Analyst/Writer
Investigative Journalist
 
Photo-Credit: Wikipédia