Mark LeVine: Who Will Control the Egyptian State?

Roundup: Historians' Take
tags: Egypt, Al Jazeera, Mahmoud Morsi, Egyptian Revolution, Mark LeVine

Mark LeVine is professor of Middle Eastern history at UC Irvine, and distinguished visiting professor at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University in Sweden and the author of the forthcoming book about the revolutions in the Arab world, The Five Year Old Who Toppled a Pharaoh.

After 887 days of protests, tear gas, tanks, camels, horses, tent cities, marches, birdshot, live ammunition, ultras, great music, torture, rape, disappointments, spears, knives, Facebook campaigns, undercover thugs, military detentions, men with scimitars, show trials, elections, referendums, annulments, arson, police brutality, negotiations, machinations, committees, strikes, street battles, foreign bailouts, extreme theatre, revolutionary graffiti, television drama, Leninist study circles, and Salafi sit-ins, Egypt's young revolutionaries have managed to do the near impossible: force the “nizzam” - the system - to restart a deeply flawed transition process in a manner which, at least at the surface, puts civilians in charge of a fraught transition process that was likely doomed the first time around the moment SCAF took control....

The last two and a half years have largely flowed more or less as one might have imagined once SCAF assumed control of the transition. The military's broad control of Egyptian politics for half a century, it's huge role in the economy - including in the transition to a neoliberal order that was supposed to weaken the grip of the old elites but broadly strengthened it, its highly authoritarian and patriarchal nature, and its guaranteed support from its major Western and Arab sponsors, all left it with little incentive or even ability to move the country along a path that would actually produce freedom, dignity, social justice, and an overall better life for most Egyptians.

The problem was, and remains, that the only way for the revolution to achieve its core goals would be literally to create a new state - a new set of power relations and institutions through which they flow that would profoundly redistribute social, economic and political power throughout Egyptian society. But to do this they would have to take on, and defeat, the military and the order it represented. As long as the military controls the political and economic process in Egypt, the vast majority of Egyptians will live well below their economic and political potential....

Read entire article at Al Jazeera

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