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The June 30th coalition and the future of the Egyptian revolution

May 13, 2014 at 10:39 am

This article attempts to answer the following question: What is the nature of the June 30th coalition, which is backing one of the Egyptian presidential candidates? Does this alliance express the interests raised by the January 25 Revolution? Are there any alternatives?

Alliance parties

The June 30th coalition does not represent a real political or social force. It brings together various sectors from the state institutions, including the army, police, judiciary, administration, Al-Azhar, Tamarod, some civil parties that do not have a large popular base, the Salafist Al-Nour Party, left-wing and liberal elites, and a large number of businessmen who were harmed by the fall of Mubarak’s regime which had allowed them to make illegal profits and had no true national economic vision.

This coalition has popular support, especially from artists and media personalities, as well as parts of the poor and middle classes who are influenced by the media or who desire stability and believe that they will regain some of their strength in the deteriorating economic situation. The coalition also received generous financial support from some Gulf States, Russia, Europe and America.

However, this alliance is missing influential parties in society. Besides all the parties of the Islamic trend, the absentees include the most prominent youth revolutionary movements, such as the April 6 Movement, Revolutionary Socialists, Gabhet Tareeq Al-Thawra, Al Midan Al-Talet (The 3rd Square) and thousands of youth who are not affiliated with a specific group. The youth’s reluctance to be involved in the political scene was evident during the constitutional referendum.

In fact, successive governmental political mistakes started when it failed to address day-to-day issues, the appointment of Mubarak supporters in the government and municipalities, and passing the demonstration law and military trials in the new constitution. Mistakes also included releasing Mubarak and the pillars of his government, killing protestors and prosecuting youth activists. These mistakes led to large masses of the youth opposing the current course of events and all the arbitrary security measures that have taken place since July 3; many consider what occurred on July 3 as a full-fledged counter-revolution.

There is also strong student activity taking place in most Egyptian universities, with students against the June 30th coalition due to its export of political strife to campuses; 176 students and seven professors have been killed, while 1,347 students and 160 professors have been arrested. In addition to this, hundreds of students have been expelled from their courses and 32 university professors have been suspended from work and detained for investigation between July 3 last year and March 2014, according to human rights reports on academic freedoms in Egypt.

Therefore, one could not imagine student anger subsiding after the government insisted on taking security measures into universities, in addition to the university leaders thrashing about in the state of confusion affecting the community.

Despite the fact that some student demands are unrealistic, there is a need to listen to the students, rationalise their demands and involve them in the treatment of the disastrous effects of Mubarak’s rule.

The student and youth movements cannot be faced with security measures nor can old, numbing solutions be used to avoid their demands, as these movements were the driving force behind the January 25 revolution and the June 30 demonstrations. In my opinion, these movements are capable of turning the tables against and changing the entire scene, which is what happened in other countries.

Going back to the Islamic trend, it is dangerous to imagine the success of any scenario without it. This trend includes millions of people and, despite the fragmentation of its supporters in the past and their distribution within various other parties, the post-June 30 situation led them to sense a common danger. Therefore, it is not unlikely for alliances that are more aware and united to be created by the pre-June 30 parties.

It is also important not to forget that the security policies and human rights violations that took place after June 30 resulted in the formation of violent groups affiliated with this trend and that the community will continue to suffer from the negative effects of their revenge for many years, even if the country reaches a political reconciliation.

Coalition interests

The June 30 coalition does not reflect the goals of the Egyptian revolution that began over three years ago because, in its current form, it is a fragile alliance that is only held together by a common wish to oppose the Islamic trend and remove it from the political scene.

Although the stated goal of the June demonstrations was to hold early presidential elections, it gradually turned into focusing on eliminating the Islamists and fighting what has now been defined as “terrorism”.

Of course, there are parties within this coalition which believe Al-Sisi alone is capable of achieving a real transition into democracy, but most of its members do not want democracy and do not even know what democracy is. A significant part of the coalition wants to preserve the privileges it enjoyed under Mubarak, such as the official institutions (specifically the senior figures in these institutions), which were affected by the revolution, which ultimately and inevitably eliminated or reduced privileges.

Mubarak’s regime left behind a so called “sectarian functions system” within the influential institutions, such as the police, the army and the judiciary; in order to abolish this system, there is a need for great effort and a strict rule of law, institutions and citizenship .

The businessmen affected by the January revolution and Mubarak’s supporters who have re-emerged to the forefront of the political and media scene do not want to hear anything about the January 25 Revolution and are pressing for the restoration of the pre-revolution status quo because the uprising harmed their interests and threatened their privileges.

As for the artists, media personalities and the elite intellectuals who have joined the alliance since Mubarak’s era, they have become accustomed to a state of lawlessness and lack of commitment to any professional or moral disciplines under the pretext of the freedom of art and creativity. In their opinion, the revolution opened the door to putting disciplines and charters for professional work in place and, therefore, they are not pushing for the rule of law, accountability or responsibility. Instead, they are pushing for the survival of their privileges.

In the opinion of most of these groups, authority is a utilitarian authority that works in favour of these groups and not others and they believe the January 25 Revolution threatened their interests because it called for the rule of law and due accountability.

However, some civil parties in the alliance believe that eliminating the Islamists will give them the opportunity to get the majority vote in parliament and enable them to form a government and share power with the next president.

This is very unlikely, not only because of the deteriorating security situation and the ongoing state of political strife that will undoubtedly hinder any political path and these parties’ inability to create alternatives with their weak popular base and lack of cadres. It is also because the next president will not need a partner in authority, as he will have the final word and will form his own party which will act as the state party and will carry out the roles previously performed by Mubarak’s party, perhaps with some improvements.

In addition to this, there are some who believe that the next president will not be able to rule like any other democratic president by partnering with other civil forces because he does not possess the elements for such rule and nobody backing him today wants this. They want a strong ruler who orders the people and controls them.

As for the allied poor and middle classes, they believe that the next president will pander to their interests, which are mainly security and stability on the streets and improving the economic situation so that things can go back to the way they were before the revolution. That was a harsh life with a government which enables (or pushes) weak or helpless people to take action in order to make a life for themselves in every possible way, both legally and illegally, including through corruption, bribery, abuse of power and violating the law.

In short, democracy, the rule of law, social justice and economic development are not on the agenda of most of the parties in this fragile coalition.

Despite this, the coalition may go on for some time due to the generous external support it receives from the Gulf States and the West. However, their interests will clash and they will certainly break up with the continuing crises.

If a comprehensive national alliance consisting of all those opposed to human rights violations and trying to promote democracy is formed, then neither the June 30 coalition nor the government can survive.

What can we do?

I would imagine that the political groups between the revolutionary forces and the counter-revolutionary forces who want “Mubarakism” without Mubarak himself will continue until a true national democratic alliance is formed that reflects the interests of the January 25 Revolution. Their main goal and top priority must be the realisation of the goals of the real Egyptian revolution. That is, the establishment of a real democratic system that enables every class in Egyptian society and lays the foundation for the rule of law and institutions.

This should produce elected civilian governments that are responsible and capable of addressing the true issues that affect the ordinary citizen, such as achieving economic growth, social justice for the poor and underprivileged and adopting foreign policies able to combat Egypt’s humiliating dependency on the outside world.

The main task of such a coalition would be to lay the foundations of political competition during a transitional phase that may go on for years in order to prepare for true competition between partisan programmes and platforms serving the public interest. The parties of the democratic alliance should not compete during the building phase and should not repeat the mistake that began on February 12, 2011.

The Egyptians will achieve this trans-ideology national bloc when the concessions made by each party become more valuable in terms of policies and choices. For example:

  • When the civilian parties realise that supporters will not come from the remains of the Islamic trend, but by working amongst the people, presenting them with programmes and forming true cadres.
  • When the Islamic trend realises it is not working alone and must find national partners that will work with it to achieve a joint national agenda, which, at this point, will not go past establishing the rule of law, freedoms and institutions, and achieving true economic development and social justice.
  • When the military leaders realise that what occurred in Egypt in 2011 was a true revolution against an oppressive and corrupt entity labelled the “state” and “political system” and that the revolution will not stop until Egypt is on the path of establishing a modern state with democratic institutions and an elected civilian government, not ruled by the army or any unelected party. This also requires these leaders to realise that addressing the civilian-military relations will ultimately strengthen the state, democracy and army, as was the case in other countries.
  • When the international and regional forces supporting the current government realise that times have changes and that the strength and determination of the masses for change and freedom will not be stopped by anyone, especially in this day and age, when the people are equipped with smart phones, the means of social networking and satellites.

The time of fooling the people is over; the people have had a taste of freedom and they will sacrifice everything to get and preserve it.

Translated from Al Jazeera net May 10, 2014

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