The situation in Egypt has been changed dramatically since the eve of the year. The Egyptian revolution followed the path of its predecessor in Tunisia. The revolt didn’t only topple the ex-president, but also the longstanding sources of power. Egypt has witnessed a lot of events since the revolution. Instability swept the country and disputes emerged between various political parties and groups and between same political subjects and the Ruling Military Council. The situation seems to be pessimistic and ambiguous compared to the first flourishing days of the revolution. It is difficult to predict the coming future precisely, taking into consideration the liquid and ongoing situation in Egypt.
In general the traditional parties did not play very important during the eighteen days that stretched from the 25th of January and stepped down until Mubarak in 11th of February. Now some of these parties are trying to create for itself a presence on the political scene and to take advantage of the existing infrastructure - offices, lists of members, organizational structure, and experiences of election etc. Al-Wafd (delegation) Party is one of the most important of these parties and its history extends to the leadership of the 1919 revolution against British occupation. It is a liberal oriented party which played recently a key role in advocating an alliance with a lot of parties including the Muslim Brotherhood’s party “Freedom and Justice” to agree on a common agenda for national action. Leftist parties “Arabic Naserist Party”, “Socialist Party of Egypt”, “Progressive Unionist Party Assembly” suffered from splits and internal divisions, especially that some of their members got out of the parties and founded new parties after the revolution. The party of “Tomorrow” (Al-Gad) and “Dignity” (Al-Karama) – their leaders Ayman Nour and Hamdien Sabbah”, respectively, are keeping his intention to run for the presidency. The fate of the two parties most likely will be linked to the extent of the success of their leaders to get a reasonable proportion of the vote in the presidential race. Democratic Front Party - Centrist Party began by a split in the “Muslim Brotherhood” movement in the 1990s, although the party did not enjoy the presence in the large pre-revolutionary era, but its chances may be better than others in as it occupies an intermediate place between the forces of Islamic and liberal parties.
Between the most important new parties are “Freedom and Justice Party”. It is the political arm of the “Muslim Brotherhood”, which has a strong political experience unlike the rest of the political movements. There is still confusion regarding the details of the relationship between the party and the movement and the degree of autonomy enjoyed by the party. Although some of the young cadres in the Brothers split, there is no evidence of a major split within the “Muslim Brotherhood”, which enhances the opportunity to "liberty and justice" to benefit the full potential of the group. “Light party” - although the Salafi trend has generally been distancing itself from entering politics before the revolution, it appeared on the surface strongly in recent months. “Light party” reflects one of the strongest trends of Salafism that was established in Alexandria. Despite the apparent presence of a strong cultural community of Salafists in Egypt, they are not one body, and the ability and willingness to play an influential political role in the next phase remains questionable. “Free Egyptians Party” was established by businessman Naguib Sawiris in response to the establishment of the “Freedom and Justice”. It is a liberal party mainly preoccupied with preventing the Islamists taking over power in Egypt and prevents its diversion into a religious state. The party will benefit from the financial capabilities of Sawiris and the majority of Christians support to him. But likely it will be in a weak position if was seen as a "Party of the Copts." “Egypt Freedom Party” is a liberal party founded by Amr Hamzawy, a writer and political commentator, a young man and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Institute in the United States, has emerged a star in recent years through frequent appearances in the media and active in many political circles. Hamzawy enjoys popularity among young people. But there is no sign so far that the party enjoys large support base. “Egyptian Social Democratic Party” stands somewhere between the liberal and the left currents. It includes a mix of veteran politicians, activists, young people and personalities who enjoy good reputation in the public sphere. “Justice Party” lies in the middle between liberal and left currents. It is characterized of being a youth party, to a large extent given the age-founders and its cadres. “Labor Party” contained number of icons and traditional left-wing labor leaders who played a role in many social protests that the country has witnessed in recent years. Leftist parties “Socialist Party”, “People's Alliance” and the “Communist Party of Egypt” has gathered all under one umbrella called it the “Socialist Forces Front”, but without integrating into a single party, and it is not yet clear whether these movements will succeed in attracting large numbers or whether they will remain confined to the narrow circle of leftist intellectuals. The “National Alliance” has been recently formed between “Al-Wafd Party”, “Freedom and Justice Party” and other 18 parties. But it is not clear yet whether it will succeed. Non-partisan forces “April 6 Youth Movement” appeared in the last three years as one of the most active protest groups against the Mubarak regime. Although the movement was one of the founders of a “Coalition of revolutionary youth” which called for demonstrations in 25th January, they withdrew from the coalition in protest against the recent representation by a splinter group in the coalition. The party has refused to become a party, preferring to exercise its role as a pressure group to adapt certain issues. At present, the movement focused its campaigns on the political awareness of citizens, especially in regions and districts. “Coalition of Revolutionary Youth” emerged during the Revolution as the most important youth group that included the representatives of several currents (6 April Youth, the youth of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Democratic Front Party, The popular campaign in support of Mohamed El-Baradei, former Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) other minor groups). But its role seems down recently after fulfilling most of the demands that were undisputedly agreed upon during the Revolution and after the leaders went in separate political projects. Shortly after the departure of Mubarak the coalition joined in turn to another set of block (The Coordinating Committee of the Masses of the Revolution) that has played a role in Tahrir Square demonstrations and contained beside the coalition five other groups - The Board of Trustees of the Revolution, the Alliance of Egypt revolutionists, the Coalition of Egypt's revolution, the youth of 25th of January and 25th Independent Academics. “Coordinating Committee of the Masses of the Revolution” played an important role in the period following the departure of Mubarak, that by called for demonstrations of various Fridays and organizing these protests logistically, to press for various demands such as the dismissal of the Government of Ahmed Shafik and solve the state security apparatus and the trial of the Previous system icons. However, the members of the Coordinating Committee, in which the “Muslim Brotherhood” enjoyed a strong presence, were divided amongst themselves when the call to "Friday Anger II" in 27 of May appeared. The Muslim Brotherhood were accused as "Friday drive a wedge” between the people and the army." “National Council” is in an attempt to create an inclusive entity of the various forces, Mamdouh Hamza, a famous architect and political activist called to a major conference attended by many political activists and jurists. But the absence of the “Muslim Brotherhood” about the conference and the lack of a clear goal of the “National Council” weaken his position. “National Assembly for Change” has emerged over the last year and included a number of politicians from different directions (“Movement of Adequacy”, “Democratic Front Party”, “Muslim Brotherhood” and others) and adopted what was known as the demands of the change proposed by Dr. Mohamed El-Baradei. After Mubarak stepped down the Assembly tried to maintain its role, but its survival is now threatened after a violent split within what is known about the battle of the Constitution first or the election first.
The political weight of the parties is different. The strength of these different groups is not yet known precisely. Although most of the Islamic forces have adopted the option of voting "yes" in return for the adoption of most secular factions, to vote "no", it is difficult to use as a result of the referendum in 19 March (78% yes, 22% do not) to talk confidently about the weight of each of the two camps, as many other nonreligious factor may have influenced the choice of the voters. In the absence of electoral test suitable to measure the strength of different political groups, is to resort to other indicators such as the size of the public response to calls launched by these groups. According to this indicator, the Islamic movements seem to be in a strong position as the conferences of the mass witnessing large crowds (up to approximately 50 people in a conference), but other forces also refers to popular participation to a "Friday anger the second" in 27 May, despite the Islamists' call to boycott. Also, the political differences between the different groups are not clear. There are at least five parties describe themselves as liberal parties (the “Delegation”, “Tomorrow”, “Democratic Front”, “Egyptians Liberal”, “Egypt free”) and the seven parties at least tend to the left (“Assembly”, “Nasareists”, “Dignity”, in addition to the movements of the four affiliated under the so-called "Socialist Forces Front "), and a number of parties, which says it has an Islamic background (“Freedom and Justice” of the Muslim Brotherhood and the “Wasat Party”, “Renaissance Party”, “Party of the light”). However, these divisions are not reflected in the form of alliances between the different movements, we find, for example, that the party “Delegation”, liberal party Freedom and Justice", the Islamic call together to establish a "National Alliance”. The ruling High Military Council is consisted from 20 members who represent the main chefs and the main organs of the armed forces. The council assumed authority after the ex- president stepped down in 11 February. The Military Council represents the continuity of the tradition of the military dominance over the political arena in Egypt since 1952. The four former presidents came from the armed forces. The armed forces enjoy a privileged position, have a secret subject and are self- sufficient. The system since 1952 found a good way to use the army officers after their retirement by appointing them as heads of company or institutions or ambassadors or even governs and ministers. The system has guaranteed over a long period the loyalty of the army and matched the interests of the army and its staff by the existence of the system itself. It is also to be noticed that there is no clear boundary between the post of the chief of the staff and the minister of defense. The authority has considered through a long time the minister of defense as guarantee of the army loyalty and appointer only those who have no political ambition or high popularity among the people. This could also point to us the removal of the field marshal Mohamed Abu al-Halim Abu Gazala from his post in the late 1980s after he gained high popularity, especially after the rebellion of the central security forces in 1986. This also explained to us why field marshal Mohamed Hussien Tantawi, the former chief of the republican guard remained a minister of defense from 1991 to 2011. After the revolution, the only power ready to take over the authority was the Military Council. The army has proved to be a strong player in the Egyptian life and convinced large stratus of the Egyptian society to support its decisions. The army has organized a referendum in 19 March and was followed by a constitutional declaration in 24 March.
The situation in Egypt will be ambiguous at least in the near future. Although the revolution toppled the ex-president, the revolution didn’t succeed completely yet, due to some obstacles - the Egyptian bureaucracy; revolution didn’t manage to produce its own elite; the old elite which was part of the doomed system have survived and continued to play an active role after the revolution. What happened was circulation inside the elite itself, instead of changing the elite itself. The High Military Council that seems to eliminate its political opponents slowly and consolidate its control day by day and step by step. The army is not going to assume authority, but it wants to guarantee to itself a strong position after the transitional period, that makes it like a referee in the political arena and the Turkish model may seem attractive and acceptable to the Military Council. The role of the military council rise the problem of the old regime, which the army and especially its leadership was indivisible part of it. The revolution although toppled the ex-president, didn’t rule by itself, the army is ruling as a trustee for the revolution and this make the implementation of the revolution demands, and the changes extent a questionable question.
The role of foreign powers increased very much in this period. Since Egypt is a key player in the region, with its geostrategic position and importance, it is the focus of other regional and global powers. Egypt enjoyed strategic and special relations with the United States since Sadadt era. The American influence played important role, especially in time interval after the step down of Muabark. American embassy in Cairo has initiated political dialogues with nearly all the political forces in Egypt, especially the “Muslim Brotherhood” to ensure that Egypt is not going to break the American rules in the region in the future. America also enjoyed strong relation with the Egyptian army and the United States used the army as trustee for some vital issues for America (the Peace treaty with Israel, counter terrorism efforts, Suez Canal). These interventions mean manipulation of the Egyptian revolution for the interests of the global powers.
The situation in Egypt will remain unclear for unknown period of time. There are two main events in the near future, the parliamentary and then the presidential elections. Egypt will hold its full democratic election in September. They say the 30-year state of emergency in Egypt will also be lifted ahead of both polls, allowing more political freedoms. In a referendum earlier this month, nearly 80% of Egyptians voted in favour of key electoral reforms, including a two-term limit for any future president and reduced presidential powers. This is a great deal of change for just a couple of months for the Egyptian people towards a more democratic life but is it too fast for the people to adapt? The changes are coming too fast for a normal person to adapt, those who can do that are the political parties who were waiting for this moment and they are the “Muslim Brotherhood”. There are no doubts that the Islamist faction, especially the “Muslim brotherhood”, is going to enjoy substantial number of seats (30% to 40%). It is because the political party of “Muslim Brotherhood” is different from the movement. The party is in favor of more democratic and centrist approach and is well rooted in the societies through many members being part of professional syndicates, like the doctors’ syndicate and lawyers’ syndicate. This is possible with the lifting of the ban for “Muslim Brotherhood” to form parties which was set by the Nasr era. But “Muslim brotherhood” on their own will not manage so they will definitely make a coalition with other parties as mentioned above. This will give it some form of internal checks and balances, which will balance leftists with rightists to the center.
The presidential elections thought to be held at the end of the year or may be at the next year. It will be probably contended by Amer Moussa or El-Baradei. Let us not forget that Egypt has had always charismatic rulers, like Mohammed Ali, Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak. Amer Moussa has a lot of supporters from Middle East and Africa because he was the Secretary General of the Arab League. As well as he is very famous in the rural area of Egypt where it will come to, because only 18 million live in Cairo city while the rest of 62 million are mostly in rural parts. El-Baradei on the other hand has a lot of support from the West and Western powers who would like to protect their investments in Egypt. He was the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It is a classic case of sovereignty battle, because it is International support versus domestic and regional support. It will be truly interesting who will win the elections but it will definitely come down to those two political figures.
By Stefan L. Tanev, graduated from Cairo University, Egypt, B.A. of Political Science
with minor Economics.