Hosni Mubarak is out and the military is in charge of Egypt. Is this a soft coup d’état or a true transition to democracy stewarded by the military? On the surface, the pro-democracy movement appears to have succeeded without violence. Could the infant revolution succeed in bringing democracy and free and fair elections? This is an important question since the military is still in charge and the revolution is in its infancy.
The Egyptian regime has been kept in power for decades with an estimated one million Egyptians working for security services in the military as well as in the police. The security services have blood on their hands. With orders from the regime, these forces arbitrarily arrested, kidnapped, tortured, raped, and murdered its citizens who would dare to oppose the 30-year regime. In contrast, the Egyptian military has little or no blood on their hands directly, but they have used their influence and might to keep the regime in power. The role of the military became very clear in the removal of Mubarak (February 11) and anointing the military in charge.
The regime, in addition to their massive abuse of the people, has pillaged the country’s wealth for their use. They have robbed billions of dollars from the treasury and used their power to grab corporate dollars in ill-gotten deals. In the same period, the people have suffered extreme poverty and diseases. Thirty million Egyptians live on less than two dollars a day. According to a UN–HABITAT 2010-2011 report, out of the population of eighty-five million, fifteen million Egyptians live in slums.
Since the beginning of the Egyptians’ pro-democracy revolution on January 25, the demonstrators sacrificed over three hundred deaths and several thousand wounded. The demonstrators, amazingly, continued to call for peaceful demonstrations all across Egypt. What is next for the pro-democracy movement if the military reign of power subverts the revolution?
Before answering the question, first and foremost, the pro-democracy movement must choose their leaders along with a clear and unambiguous platform for democracy, party participation, and fair and just elections. The platform should declare that no country should interfere in the progress of their revolution. This will be difficult in an arena that has depended on Egypt for its cold peace with Israel. Immediately after the announcement of Mubarak’s departure, Israeli media reported that Israeli analysts were happy to have Egypt’s military in charge. They added that the 1.5 billion US dollars annually given to Egypt is the leverage to keep Egypt in check for the peace treaty with Israel. Let us hope that a sovereign democratic state of Egypt is the best guarantor of peace.
Ultimately, the next steps for the pro-democracy movement will be to lay the moral framework for their movement. The world was rocked by watching this peaceful revolution in real time. To remain faithful to the principles of democracy, the people must remain firm in their commitment to peaceful means, valuing each individual human life, and treating all of Egypt’s citizens as having equal worth. The pro-democracy movement must remain vigilant, increasing pressure peacefully while demanding the dismantling the organs of oppression.
The events in Egypt are still fluid. We all hope this peaceful revolution will be able to become rooted in an Egyptian republic. If democracy holds in Egypt, peace activists across the globe will be ecstatic that two peaceful revolutions – in Tunisia and Egypt- have come to pass. The world waits as the cultural heart of the Arab world begins its march to democracy.