As we approach the 12th anniversary of Egypt’s 25 January 2011 Revolution, the conditions in the country are much worse than they were back then. Today, the Egyptian people are suffering more from inflation and poverty amid a severe economic crisis, along with the depreciation of the Egyptian pound, which has fallen to its lowest ever level against the US dollar. With one dollar now equalling 30 Egyptian pounds, citizens cannot afford to buy food and pay for gas and electricity.
The poverty rate has increased to its highest level, and is now hitting the middle class as well as the officially poor people in Egypt. The country is now living on loans from the International Monetary Fund rather than the loans obtained from other countries. According to the Central Bank of Egypt last September, foreign debt stood at around $157.8 billion, and the government’s total debt exceeded 4.7 trillion pounds.
This money was spent on projects with no economic benefit, such as the new administrative capital, the Suez Canal branch and the filling of irrigation canals. The minister of irrigation admitted that the latter was a failed project, but only after spending billions of pounds. There was also the “furniture city”, which President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi also admitted was a failure, as well as other costly failed projects.
If we leave the miserable economic situation aside, and look at the politics, we find that it is even worse. Political life in Egypt is almost completely non-existent. There are no opposition parties or opposition media. Everyone has been gagged; there is no voice other than the voice of the dictator, his parties and his handpicked parliament. The prisons are filled with tens of thousands of political opponents and activists.
The 25 January Revolution fought against injustice and corruption, but injustice and corruption are now stronger and uglier than before. The revolution involved people from all political, intellectual and ideological backgrounds dropping their affiliations, except their affiliation to Egypt. They called as one for the fall of the regime under the slogan “Bread, freedom, social justice and human dignity”. Their cries echoed around the Arab world. This was no surprise, as we are one Arab nation which has been divided by the colonialists.
The Egyptian dream to overthrow the corrupt dictator became a reality. However, the deep state was not overthrown, which was a mistake. This door was left open for the oppressive regime to return by conspiring with the imperialist and regional powers which feared that the winds of change would reach their own countries and bring down their thrones. I am referring to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the centre of Israeli conspiracies, the UAE, the headquarters of the counter-revolutions from which all conspiracies against the Arab and Islamic world are managed. These two countries in particular turned the Egyptian dream into a nightmare, as they did with the other “Arab Spring” revolutions, although the counter-revolution took a different form in Egypt out of fear that their people would be infused with the desire for democracy and change; Egypt is always in the vanguard, and others follow.
Hundreds of billions of dollars were spent in order to overthrow a democratically-elected president in Egypt after the first open, free and fair election in Egyptian history, the integrity of which was witnessed by the whole world. The military coup which took place in 2013 was certainly given the green light by the US because the Egyptian revolution did not appeal to the Zionist leaders, including the dictatorial Arab rulers. In addition to them wanting Israel to remain the “only democracy” in the region, they also feared the awakening of the Arab people and possible coups against their rulers, their agents in the region and the guardians of their usurped states.
We cannot pardon the elites who participated in the 2011 revolution and then joined with its enemies simply because their political opponents came to power, causing them to turn against the democracy that they had raved about. They were content to let the military take over the country with a civilian veneer.
The January revolution cannot in any way be compared to the farce of the coup that remains contaminated by dollars and riyals, and soaked in the blood of innocent people. It was the opportunistic corrupt elites who facilitated the setback of the revolution and who must take responsibility for the awful situation Egypt is in today.
Twelve years down the line and the revolutionaries have split into sects and parties, each going their own way, and throwing accusations at each other. Polarisation has become a characteristic of the Egyptian people, even within the same family. The song “We are a people and you are a people” that came out after the coup was true. We denounced it at the time, but it reflected a reality planned with great malice. They divided the people into sects, each with its martyrs and detainees who they defend, but they do not care about those of the other side. Instead, they gloat over each other’s misfortunes, turning their brothers from the same soil and religion into the “other”. This is the language that the Egyptians have started to use.
This plan was drawn up by the regime after the success of the revolution and the overthrow of Mubarak, but it was postponed until the flame of the revolution had died down. It was then easier to attack and abort it through their coup, even before which they planted the seeds of hatred amongst the people.
Looked at in the context of this polarisation, exclusion and hatred, is it possible for harmony to return to the Egyptian people, and for them to be united, as they were in 2011? Or will we remain in an endlessly vicious cycle of accusations and counter-accusations? One side lost the revolution with its stupidity, and the other sold the revolution with its opportunism. These and similar accusations will keep us turning anniversaries of the 25 January Revolution into a time for weeping and anguish.
The same millions of Egyptians who staged a revolution then are needed to put aside their differences now and take to the streets once again to save their country. Everyone has contributed in one way or another to the situation in Egypt today, as everyone has lost their vision. The lack of a revolutionary leader has helped this to happen; it was one of the weak points of the 2011 revolution. Everyone wanted to be its father, so the revolution was lost between legitimate and illegitimate fathers who appeared so suddenly after its success. Woe to those illegitimate fathers with white collars who wasted the blood of the martyrs in vain. We did not preserve, protect or take proper care of the revolution, so we deserve the situation we are in now. That’s the sad reality.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.