Ode to a Revolution

by AHMAD BARQAWI

Two and a half years of multiple massive popular demonstrations, millions of Egyptians taking to the streets, alternating paths of revolutions and counter-revolutions and thousands of dead and wounded; and the only real change Egypt has witnessed was switching from the Qatari sponsor to the Saudi patron, and whenever the name of any of these two reactionary oil-rich Sheikhdoms is mentioned, it sure isn’t for a good thing, will this be the final legacy of Tahrir Square? The great January 25th revolution was reduced to nothing more than a mere foreign policy dossier passed around from one tyrannical GCC handler to the next. Way to nail the coffin tightly closed on a fleeting promise of real change, popular will and freedom.

Yet the crowds are still roaring… against each other; the Egyptian uprising has dissolved into a series of intermittent, feuding mini-uprisings (or mini-civil wars as is the case nowadays) on the streets of Cairo, each with the aim of eliminating the other, none with the aim of ridding Egypt of the Camp David agreement for instance, and therein lies the rub; the Israelis must be rubbing their hands with ecstatic glee right about now; and why shouldn’t they? Egypt’s on fire; and the flames are nowhere even near their precious peace treaty, let the country burn to the ground and they’ll set on top of its ashes.

To recall those early images of Tahrir square has become arduous; it was the beautiful revolution; the one we all saddled with overblown hopes and expectations, the one everyone tore apart claiming to speak in its name and under its (confiscated) authority, the one that was weighed down with our misplaced judgments and dogmatic assumptions, and the one we watched wither away despondently beyond recognition under our microscopic analysis and relentless scrutiny.

It was the purest revolution of them all, unblemished by UNSC resolutions or NATO’s humanitarian interventions, a sectarian-free revolution; that was until the Muslim Brotherhood rode its back to power… for a while. It was the one that took them all by surprise, the one that managed to slip away from the razor-edged noose of foreign agendas… or so we theorized, and the one that later perished twice; once under the weight of political Islam (funded by Qatar) and again under the boots of the Military Generals (backed by Saudi Arabia). Now we know in order to preserve a revolution you need to align yourself squarely and completely against deep-pocketed regressive Gulf monarchies. A tall order it seems.

It was the perfect revolution yet not perfect “enough” for us, the one we reveled in exposing its inadequacies and shortcomings, the one that was not destined to live long past its own symbolic victory of toppling Mubarak; the one we made sure would suffer a slow, writhing death rather than an honorable quick one, and the one we began to curse the moment the Arab Spring went ugly in Libya and more horrifically in Syria.

It was the revolution we thought would get Egypt away from the IMF’s stranglehold and the clutches of western imperialism, the one we thought would end the Israeli-imposed blockade on Gaza, and the one we hoped would redeem the tragic loss of Iraq for the Arab World. Overblown hopes and expectations indeed.

Now ironically the threat of “Iraqization” looms large and heavy over conflict-stricken Cairo, it could be “Syrianization”, who knows? After all aren’t these the real fruits of this seemingly never-ending volatile revolutionary season? Either way there are dark days ahead for Egypt; it’s more than enough to know that the Saudis have marked the country as their own territory to figure that out; Saudi Arabia’s sphere of influence has been worryingly growing after the Arab Spring and this can only mean one thing; plunging the Arab World further into criminal mayhem, chaos and internal bloodletting. I’m sure there was a fine print somewhere to it all; we just didn’t bother looking for it.

Then there was the June 30th revolution, the “re-course”, the uprising to end all uprisings, the Muslim Brotherhood’s fragile footing in power couldn’t hold the weight of their own acrid policies and inaptitude at home and abroad; from nurturing sectarianism to surrendering the entire country and its political will to the whims and deviant fancies of a tiny gulf oligarchy and its fanatical TV preacher, joining the west’s coalition of the willing against Syria, not to mention their bizarre attempt at transforming Egypt into a potential springboard for Jihadi fighters looking to join in the fight against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, the Brotherhood’s fall was inevitable and their popularity was at its lowest, massive demonstration erupted demanding the downfall of President Mohammad Morsi, but the Egyptian military intervened and unwittingly heroized an otherwise lackluster Morsi by detaining him, holding him incommunicado and overthrowing his government with a prima facie military coup; the crowds at Tahrir Square cheered for one last time and celebrated with an overkill of green laser beams… and then simply went home; giving credence and tacit popular approval for the military’s fast ascension to fill in the power vacuum.

In one fell swoop of half-revolution/half-coup-d’état; the MB was out (and chased after and mercilessly hounded and lynched); the Military and remnants of the old order were in.

The coup was akin to a much needed adrenaline shot through a political movement that was under a cardiac arrest, energized and probably feeling like the jilted bride at the altar after the promise of future riches being blown away, the Muslim Brotherhood decided to fight back to regain their “legitimacy”, a battle of sit-ins and counter sit-ins ensued between pro and anti-Morsi rival camps, Mubarakites and remnants of the old regime went after the Brotherhood with a vengeance; spearheading a vicious witch-hunting campaign against the movement’s members and supporters, and in the blink of an eye; Mubarak’s old draconian and militaristic measures against civilians were alive and well under the captaincy of General Abdel Fattah Al Sissi (the current de facto leader of the country), albeit this time neatly packaged with some sort of a “revolutionary” caveat; people were rounded up and incarcerated en mass, denied due process and torture reigned supreme like the old days, Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers in turn responded by torching police stations, attacking security forces and targeting the military’s installations. At this point no one’s talking about a revolution; the situation has quickly veered more towards a civil conflict with one side fighting for a lost “legitimacy” till martyrdom, and the other –more ominously- fighting “terrorism”.

This is how you force a genuine revolution to self-destruct; all it takes is for one gulf despot to start throwing petrodollars around and voila… a civil war erupts, this is a very familiar tale; Libya, Syria, post-Occupation Iraq and now in Egypt, the Saudis must be smiling a happily contented smile now as the sea of innocent blood overflows in Cairo.

So who’s running Egypt now? The answer is glaringly obvious; it’s Mubarak’s security men… on steroids. You might call the ghastly massacres of Rabaa Al Adawiah and Al Nahda squares ‘Exhibit A’, and Mubarak himself was acquitted, he walked out of Tora prison today… and soon into the presidential palace perhaps? The Egyptian revolution coming full circle. Of course the Americans don’t give two hoots if the new ruler of Egypt is elected or not, if he wears a suite or a military uniform, or if he prays five times a day or not, it all comes down to his willingness to fulfill his role as the omnipotent master and guardian of the Camp David agreement, other than that it’s all just smoke and double-talk, although it would be nice for them to get a Mubarkite (or Mubarak himself) to rule the country; only on the grounds that he’s already been tried and tested.

Egyptians call their country “the Mother of the World”, well this mother could have left her children all squabbling over power and slashed her wrists and no-one would have cared, nor even noticed when she decided to bleed herself out on her own pavements.

And she knows… because that’s exactly what happened.

Ahmad Barqawi, a Jordanian freelance columnist & writer based in Amman, he has done several studies, statistical analysis and researches on economic and social development in Jordan

Ahmad Barqawi, freelance columnist and writer.

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