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Policy Analysis 13 February, 2014

Egypt after Rabia Al-Adawiya: Ongoing Protests and Open-Ended Transitions

Keyword

هاني عواد

باحث في المركز العربي للأبحاث ودراسة السياسات، ومدير تحرير دورية عمران. عمل سابقًا مساعدًا أكاديميًّا في جامعة بيرزيت، التي نال منها شهادة الماجستير في الدراسات العربيّة المعاصرة. حاصل على شهادة الدكتوراه في التنمية الدولية من جامعة أكسفورد في بريطانيا. تتركز اهتماماته البحثية على الحركات الاحتجاجية، والسوسيولوجيا التاريخية، وسوسيولوجيا المكان، وسياسات الريف، والسوسيولوجيا الحضرية والنظرية السياسية. صدر له كتاب عن الشبكة العربية للأبحاث والنشر بعنوان "تحولات مفهوم القومية العربية: من المادي إلى المتخيل".

Introduction

On July 3, 2013, following Egypt’s Minister of Defense Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s declaration that the country’s first elected president had been removed from office, Egypt entered a new and uncertain period. While initial predictions after the military coup foresaw a return to the ways of the old regime, none of the Egyptian political forces have a clear concept of how the new political regime should look, or indeed which alliances should govern Egypt’s new political process. What remains clear is the army and security forces’ grip over the main functions of the state, the prevailing of authoritarianism and populism, and the attempts to abort the gains of Egypt’s January 25 Revolution.

Currently, the media gives the impression that two major camps dominate Egypt’s political landscape. The first, comprised of the Islamic movements, has been under siege since July 3, and has relentlessly contested the military coup and demanded the Brotherhood’s return to power. The opposing camp, in its intent to marginalize Islamists, has put the democratic process to a halt until events unfold, and has, in the meantime, relied on the army—the real power administering the country. This polarization has led to a “third trend”—being absent.[1]

The above, however, constitutes a very general picture and obscures the nature of the ruling regime today. Statements issued from the political forces that supported the military coup reveal that the army, months after taking political power, has yet to include the political forces that supported its coup. This can only be understood as the army’s keenness to keep its distance from the very political forces that asked it to be a part of the political process. Despite the encouragement these forces gave the army to crush their political opponents, the political alliances that supported the coup have yet to be asked to join the country’s decision-making process. The army, however, was more than happy to reap the fruits and support their wish to put an end to Morsi’s rule. Within this context, this paper is a response to Egypt’s political climate at the time of writing, and an attempt to analyze Egypt’s current status quo.  Part one considers the developments on the ground following the breakup of the sit-ins at Rabia al-Adawiya and Nahda. Part two analyzes developments on the political scene, and speculates on the features of the new Egyptian regime and its future alliances.

 

*This study was translated by the ACRPS Translation and English Editing Department. The original Arabic version published on November 28th, 2013 can be found here.

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[1] “Egyptian Crisis: The Strenuous Path to Democracy,” ACRPS Policy Analysis Unit, Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, January 9, 2013.  http://172.17.30.6:3030/sites/doiportal/en/politicalstudies/pages/the_egyptian_crisis_the_strenuous_path_to_democracy.aspx