- The Gamal inheritance scenario is finished.
- Mubarak will not run for another Presidential term. His term ends in October and either he will serve the rest of his term or will resign once things cool down for health reasons. (These concerns, incidentally, are real; he is in fact dying.)
- The army is in control now. We are heading back to the “golden age” of army rule. The “kids” are not in charge anymore; the “men” are back in control.
- Until the economy fails again, neo-liberal economic policies are over. Forget about seeing an open economy any time soon.
The army’s first task is to stabilize the situation and enforce order; the security forces have been ordered to reappear in the streets starting tonight. It’s second task will be to deal with the political activists, and with the Muslim Brotherhood, which now dominates the scene. It is anyone’s guess how that will be done, but in a couple of days Egyptians will probably be begging the army to shoot them. The army’s third task is to get things back to normal again, to get people going back to their jobs, to get basic necessities like food flowing again. The political questions can wait.And indeed there are many long-term challenges. First, you have a huge economic hit in terms of property destroyed. Adding to that, the minute the banks open back up for business, there will be a run on them, and capital flight will be the order of the day. For some time, no one with any sense whatsoever will invest in Egypt. Politically, the army will aim to return to the pre-Gamal ruling formula. People will be appeased by increased salaries and subsidies in hopes that this will keep them quiet. Will it? Doubtful. The Egyptians have realized for the first time that the regime is not as strong as it seemed just a week ago. If the army couldn’t stop them, then why should they keep silent now? Moreover, Egyptians today feel pride in themselves. They have protected their neighborhoods, doing what even the army failed to do. This sense of empowerment will not be quashed easily. Security-wise, the situation is a disaster. It might take months to arrest all the freed criminals again. Moreover, no one has a clue how the weapons that were stolen will ever be collected again, or how security forces can regain respect after having been humiliated and driven away in a mere four hours. More important, reports indicate that the borders in Gaza have been open for the past few days. What exactly was transferred between Gaza and Egypt is anyone’s guess. You might, after all of this, be asking yourself where El Baradei and the Egyptian opposition factor into all of this. CNN’s anointed leader of the Egyptian Revolution must somehow be an important figure for Egypt’s future. Hardly! Outside Western media hype, El Baradei is nothing. A man who has spent less than thirty days in the past year and hardly any time in the past twenty years in Egypt is a nobody. It is insulting to Egyptians to suggest otherwise. And what of the opposition? Outside the Muslim Brotherhood, no opposition group can claim more than about 5,000 actual members. With no organization, no ideas, and no leaders, the opposition is entirely irrelevant to the discussion. It is the apolitical-cum-political generation of young Egyptians that is the real enigma in all this. It’s hard to say where Egypt is going now. In one sense, to be sure, everything will be the same. The army that has ruled Egypt since 1952 will continue to rule it, and the country will still suffer from a huge vacuum of ideas and real political alternatives. On the other hand, nothing will ever be the same again. Once empowered, the Egyptians will not accept the status quo for very long. In the long run, these riddles are the same ones Egypt has been dealing with for a long time now. It is quite remarkable for people to be talking about the prospect for a democratic transition at this moment. A population that was convinced just two months ago that sharks in the Red Sea were implanted by the Israeli Intelligence Services is hardly ready to create a liberal democracy. Nevertheless, the status quo cannot be maintained, and the lack of any meaningful political discourse in the country is a problem that must now be addressed. Until someone actually starts addressing the real issues and stops the chatterbox of clichés on democracy, things will only get worse.