This news follows a week’s worth of troubling headlines coming out of Cairo. While it was all but expected that Egypt’s highest court would rule that Ahmad Shafiq, despite being one of Mubarak’s cronies, would be able to run for president, it wasn’t at all certain that the Supreme Constitutional Court would dissolve Egypt’s democratically-elected and Brotherhood-dominated parliament two days before this past weekend’s election. Equally stunning was the reimposition a few days earlier of martial law by Egypt’s ruling military junta, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), effectively replacing the Mubarak-era emergency law after it had expired just two weeks before. Oh, and did I mention that the SCAF issued several amendments to its March 2011“Constitutional Declaration,” amounting to, as the Christian Science Monitor fittingly puts it, an "11th-hour power grab that ends all pretense of a full transfer to civilian power by July as they had promised."
Here’s a summary of the amendments, but what they boil down to is that the military and defense minister are removed from presidential authority and oversight, legislative powers will be vested in the SCAF, the SCAF will control the budget, and the SCAF will choose who writes the new constitution. Indeed, according to state media reports, they already have.
So that’s what revolution is looking like these days. Egyptian activist and blogger, Mahmoud Salem (aka, “Sandmonkey”), isn’t wallowing in self-pity, though. He’s declaring the results of today’s election “the end of the first chapter of the Egyptian revolution.” The next chapter, if it is to be any brighter, will need more than just demonstrations:
If you are a revolutionary, show us your capabilities. Start something. Join a party. Build an institution. Solve a real problem. Do something except running around from demonstration to march to sit-in. This is not street work: real street work means moving the street, not moving in the street. Real street work means that the street you live in knows you and trusts you, and will move with you , because you help them and care for them, not because you want to achieve some lofty notions you read about in a book without any real understanding on how to apply it on Egyptian soil. You have done nothing of the kind so far, and it’s the only way you will get ahead.
And it’s not all doom and gloom for Egypt as far as Salem is concerned. Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch, but he offers a pretty insightful list of revolutionary gains. “This is what we won,” he writes.
· Hosny Mubarak, his son and his VP are not ruling us.
· The NDP is broken into many different pieces.
· The next President is chosen through fair, competitive and democratic elections, not matter what the outcome.
· Freedom of Expression, press and speech.
· The weakening of the MB, the salafis, the end of using religious speech for political gains (Notice how Morsy didn’t say a single Sharia thing in the past 2 weeks).
· Serious understanding to the nature of the state we live in and the roots of its problems, which we never really knew before.
· Interlinking between individuals all over the governorates that would’ve never taken place otherwise.
· Serious weakening of classism in a classist society.
· Incredible amount of art, music and culture that was unleashed all over the country.
· Entire generations in schools and universities that have become politicized, aware and active.
· A serious evaluation of our intelligentsia and why they suck.
· Discovering the difference between symbols and leaders, and our need for the latter than the former.
As for the United States, the Obama administration might well have picked up a copy of the Washington Post on Friday and scanned the contents of its opinion page. There, the Post’s editorial board calls for putting increased pressure on the SCAF in order to restore Egypt’s “democratic process,” lest the generals rupture US-Egyptian relations—a not insignificant part of which is the $1.3b in military aid Egypt’s military receives from the US every year. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters on Monday that “We are particularly concerned by decisions that appear to prolong the military's hold on power." When asked about the status of US military aid to Egypt, she cited “clear markers” for the SCAF to follow, namely, the ensuring the formation of an inclusive constitutional committee, a speedy power transition to a civilian government, and a democratically-elected parliament (okay, another democratically-elected parliament).
So what’s next? Will the SCAF transfer power to Mursi at the end of this month like they say they will? Will that power consist of anything more than ceremonial duties? What steps will the US take to put pressure on Egypt to ensure authoritarianism doesn’t slink back into power? How will the Muslim Brotherhood play its cards? I hope you don’t expect me to have answers to these questions. George Washington University professor, Marc Lynch, offered up what is probably the best guide yet to Egypt’s stumbling and bumbling transition. We’re witnessing a game of Calvinball at its finest:
The rules change in mid-play, as do the goals ("When I learned you were a spy, I switched goals. This is your goal and mine's hidden."), the identities of the players ("I'm actually a badminton player disguised as a double-agent football player!") and the nature of the competition ("I want you to cross my goal. The points will go to your team, which is really my team!"). The only permanent rule is that the game is never played the same way twice. Is there any better analogy for Egypt's current state of play?
Calvin doesn't always win at Calvinball. Players succeed by responding quickly and creatively to the constantly changing conditions ... Calvinball's absence of rules does not automatically bestow victory on Calvin. The game is going to continue for a long time, at least until the players finally settle on some more stable rules which command general legitimacy. Perhaps the SCAF might not automatically dominate SCAFball?
There’s definitely more time on the clock. The current score? If I may be so bold, I’d venture to say it’s SCAF: 12, Egyptian people: Q.By Nathan Patin, Aslan Media Columnist