In this month’s Pragati, I argue that while despots in the Middle East may be out, the ruling establishments will still continue to maintain control. A delirious Western media has consistently misinterpreted the recent uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia as pro-democracy and pro-freedom movements; they are neither. At best, these are anti-establishment movements that will only yield a new generation of despots in the region. But hope for democracy in the Middle East is not lost.
In its enthusiasm to support the mass social movement in Egypt, the world failed to appreciate the history of post-colonial Egypt, the Mubarak regime and its support structure. Mr Mubarak, like his predecessors, Naguib, Nasser and Sadat, is a product of the military-security structure that has dominated post-colonial Egypt since 1952. Even as Mr Mubarak transitioned power to his vice president Umar Sulayman and deputy prime minister Muhammad Tantawi (as indeed General Naguib did, albeit under coercion, to General Nasser) the military-security apparatus’ hold over Egypt will likely remain. Indeed, the jubilation on the streets of Cairo after the army’s take-over indicates that democracy and freedom became lesser issues than the people’s desire to see the last of the man they blamed for Egypt’s social and economic ills.
In this regard, the United States erred in continuing to push for Mr Mubarak’s expeditious exit after he announced his decision to withdraw from the presidential elections in September 2011. With Mr Mubarak “gone,” and calm restored to the streets, the regime is unlikely to be under pressure to institute meaningful, time-bound democratic reform in Egypt. [Pragati]