In Pragati: The twists in the Middle Eastern revolutions

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]

Read the article in its entirety in this month’s Pragati. (webpage; pdf).

 

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2 Responses to In Pragati: The twists in the Middle Eastern revolutions

  1. Jayant March 23, 2011 at 12:40 am #

    Do agree with it.
    People getting together and rebelling against something does not by itself make a democracy.

    Egypt essentially has always been a military rule under garb of other things and given the control it still has its most likely to continue to be the behind the scene power, of course, one would expect get some true and some paper political reforms to come out of this.

    But even for other countries going through the current rebellion, democracy is only a ‘potential’. It sound highly unlikely that people who have for decades lived under authoritarianism could suddenly find the organization, institutions, maturity and patience required for a democracy to fall in place, take roots and get consolidate. Do remember the establishments / attitudes/habits / individuals that kept the people in political suppression would survive in many forms & layers and resist/oppose the formation of a true democracy even if the leadership gets revolted out.

    Looks like the current rebellion is just the romance, marriage (democracy) is a very different & long haul thing.

    To certain extents, this could also be the real threat, a huge mass of people moved out of one system and unsuccessful in bringing about the desired democratic / progressive system leading to an environment of frustration & feeling lost making it ideal for exploitation by the fundamentalist ideology.

  2. Rohan Joshi March 23, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    @Jayant:

    “Looks like the current rebellion is just the romance, marriage (democracy) is a very different & long haul thing.”

    Interesting formulation, but I do agree. Hence my case that once Mubarak conceded to legislative and constitutional reform, the U.S. should have backed down from demanding his immediate step-down and working with him to build a transitional road-map for the future, which would have included building and empowering institutions and people.

    Given the current instability in the ME, I remain pessimistic that popular rebellions in the region will create sustained democratic traditions there.

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