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Egypt Anniversary, Hopes And Fears – OpEd

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By Arash Zahedi

Egyptians have poured out in the Tahrir square once again to mark one year since Hosni Mubarak’s regime was ousted in a massive revolution.

A revolution that at the onset had the consent of everyone, as the long oppressed nation saw itself, for once in the past three decades, in control and capable of overthrowing a horrific dictatorship.

The consent that still exists for not having Mubarak as the ruler any more, but one that has changed color for not seeing the ex-president properly brought to justice for the crimes people say he has committed during his long rule and in the course of the 18 day Egyptian uprising.

Egypt might be united in supporting the demand for justice but observers say the crowd in Tahrir these days is indeed undecided, not knowing whether to celebrate the anniversary of the historic event or to launch a new uprising against army rule.

Mubarak and his former interior minister are charged with ordering the killing of protesters during the revolution. Death sentence has been sought for them. But the two men regularly deny there have been such orders. The former president is often seen at court in a cage on a stretcher. Some argue he is after the nation’s pity. Whatever goes, it is indeed such an uninspiring trial which does not seem promising as far as punishing the dictator is concerned.

The court says it needs evidence against Mubarak. Documents whose collection has been totally hampered for the security apparatus’s lack of willingness to cooperate!

No one senior official has been held to account over the deaths and the killers of the slain pro-democracy protesters are still at large. Egyptians are beginning to think the trial is a failure. Some think, in despair, that the Mubarak era is not very much gone and that sadly there is yet much to change in the country. And that is where the story of the ‘New Egypt’ begins…..

A new system, or so it is argued, that can now have a Parliament whose members are chosen by people. Holding its first session this week, the newly elected ones have announced as their top priority finding out about the truth of the protests’ deaths, launching their own inquiry.

Today, there are those who think it is yet not time to celebrate as they argue the country is not a democracy yet. Truth is, there is not yet a civilian rule in place and brutality against people, Egyptians say, has not fully stopped. They say “Women dragged in streets, protesters beaten, these are not signs the military, current ruler of Egypt, is planning to step aside and hand over power to a civilian government”.

Poverty, an economic turmoil and unemployment have added insult to the injury of people, some of whom have not worked for a year.

Egypt’s military triumphantly took over power after last year’s 18 day unrest. They were considered saviors of people, respected by all. But the path Egypt has traveled ever since has been somewhat uncertain and troubled.

After all, it was not a military council people had wanted or imagined would rule the country once Mubarak was gone. And the way events for Egypt have unfolded, at times during its post Mubarak life, do not resemble, at least, a swift move towards democracy and meeting people’s demands.

The scuffles that break out in Tahrir these days, surprisingly, not between protesters and security forces/ Mubarak regime thugs, as was the case last year, but between people themselves speak of the rift the military rulers have caused among the ranks of people via their rule-and-divide game.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is accused today, by its critics, of trying to preserve its own political powers and influence the writing of a new constitution to protect its own interests at the expense of a genuine democratic transition. It is criticized for seemingly trying to ensure that no future civilian government will scrutinize its budget or question its privileges and gains. Slogans such as “The army and the people are one” that you could hear everywhere in Egypt on January 25 last year have for some protesters changed to “Down, down with the military”. The image of the military is truly becoming tainted and it is time it made a move or else it will be seen as Mubarak’s “hidden hand”.

On Tuesday, SCAF chairman Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi announced the state of emergency, been in place in Egypt almost continuously since 1967, was to be lifted. The military council also announced that around 2,000 prisoners have been pardoned by Field Marshall Tantawi.

The military council has also issued a statement on its Facebook page saying it would hand over power by the end of June to an elected president. It has, as well, tried to minimize its role in last year violence.

“When we talk, many truths will be revealed that will make this people prouder of their children from the armed forces,” the statement said.

Egypt is anxiously waiting for these children to deliver on their promises ad redeem their dignity.

Meanwhile, the responsibility of the parties that have gained from the collapse of Mubarak seems to be graver at this juncture. The Muslim Brotherhood, arguably the country’s most powerful Mubarak era opposition, has 47% of the new parliament in its grasp now. It seems to have no disagreement to the military’s timeline for transferring power to a civilian government.

But, some observers say the Brotherhood should know the military will not give up power voluntarily. Should that prove to be a scenario on the Egypt stage, then the Brotherhood should not play a part. The Islamic party is powerful and can determine the faith of the country’s unfinished revolution.

Nevertheless, hopes are high in Egypt though time might be running out soon for Egypt players. A recent Gallup poll has shown 82 percent of citizens still think SCAF will hand over power to a civilian government as promised.

Whether the military will lead the unfulfilled path toward democracy in Egypt to fruition, or will Mubarak’s legacy continue to haunt the country are questions whose answers, Egyptians must patiently wait for to come to light, perhaps before another January 25.

— Arash Zahedi is a Tehran-based political analyst and broadcaster. He is a frequent contributor to Press TV.

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Press TV

Press TV is a 24-hour English language global news network owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). Its headquarters are located in Tehran, Iran. Press TV carries news analysis, documentary talk shows and sports news worldwide with special focus on West Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

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