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Arab revolutions three years down the line

When the Tunisian revolution broke out on 18 December, 2010, no one knew that it would be the first spark of other revolutions in several Arab countries. Nor could we know that it was the start of radical changes in the region's political and maybe even geographical maps.


The rapid and resounding fall of Tunisian tyrant Zine El Abidine Ben Ali did not mean that the revolution was an immediate success and that the era of oppression and corruption had come to an end. Similarly, the fall of Hosni Mubarak did not mean the success of the revolution in Egypt.

The Egyptian people organised and participated successfully in five elections, the value of which was felt by everyone in the country. They elected a new People's Assembly and Shura Council; voted in two constitutional referendums; and chose a new president through the ballot box. All of these benefits were dissolved by the military coup that pushed Egypt back decades, if not centuries.

Even the Libyan revolution, which needed a massive war to overthrow Gaddafi, with great loss of life, has yet to achieve victory. In Syria the revolution looks set to go on for a long time and, although the Yemeni revolution succeeded in overthrowing Ali Abdullah Saleh, the situation there hasn't stabilised yet. The main reason behind the incomplete nature of most of these revolutions is that no one is listening to the few individuals who have an understanding of the history of revolutions and how they succeed.

The revolutionaries in all of these countries aimed to overthrow heads of corrupt regimes but forgot that the entire state corpus was corrupt and needed to be cleansed. No revolution can succeed while the corrupt body of the state remains intact, including the media, judiciary, military and bureaucracy. By "military" I mean the army and the police, which are the brutal tools of tyrannical rulers at the root of the corrupt system.

When the members of the Egyptian Parliament were elected by the people they should have been untouchable and able to establish revolutionary courts tasked with cleansing the corrupt state institutions. Instead they have forgotten that the body of the judiciary is rotten, corruption is endemic and the military has seized power. The parliament has wasted several months issuing worthless legislation, leaving the Constitutional Court, the members of which were appointed by Mubarak, to erase the dreams of the people with the stroke of a pen.

Moreover, the Chief Justice of the Court participated in destroying the constitution chosen by the people and was involved in the usurpation of power through the coup. The courts dealt with fabricated cases for decades under Mubarak; he extended the retirement age for judges so that he could keep the judiciary corrupt, something in which he succeeded.

The same happened in Tunisia, but the people were able, to some extent, to expose the military conspiracy and overthrew the army leadership in accordance with a presidential decree before the army officers could oust the elected government. Moncef Marzouki was much more aware than Mohamed Morsi, and Rashed Al-Ghannouchi was more pragmatic than the members of the Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Bureau. The road to victory is still long, but the steadfastness of the people will determine the future of these revolutions.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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