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Tahrir is playing into the hands of the regime

The regime’s strategy is clear: gain the support of the silent majority and you don’t have to care about revolutionaries or their foreign contacts. The regime’s tactics are also clear: create chaos, blame it on the revolutionaries and claim that support of the regime is the only way back to stability.

Alfred Guirguis
6 June 2012

As Egypt's presidential election runoff is between Mubarak's old prime minister and the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate the revolutionaries are stuck between a rock and a hard place. There could still be solutions if the revolutionaries had a strategy for obtaining power, but the reaction to Mubarak's conviction - or rather to the acquittal of six heads of police - shows that the revolutionaries aren't acting, but reacting while the regime runs the show.

The regime in Egypt was never Mubarak's. The regime is a complex system of organizational networks with intertwined interests and a culture of corruption. Mubarak was a component in that system until the revolution made him a liability for it. That's why he became disposable, ousted and replaced by the military, which is a key organization in that system. Now Mubarak has been convicted.

The regime, now headed by a military junta, is surfing on the verge of chaos. Although powerful it does need the support of what has come to be known as Egypt's silent majority. There is a huge rift between Egypt's revolutionaries, whom western media have chosen to focus on, and this silent majority which the regime choses to focus on.

The majority does want the same things as the revolution. Freedom, equality and social justice would be very nice, but one can't feed ones family with it and therefore it's not a priority.

The people are getting poorer and they blame the revolution. The country’s economy has deteriorated since Mubarak's ousting. The turmoil and security vacuum which the regime has created in Egypt has scared off both tourists and investors. The state media apparatus, which is another component of the regime system, blames the bad economy and the security void on the people who keep on protesting. A big part of the silent majority buys it and others couldn't care less about who's culpable but simply want order to be restored.

The same applies to the reactions to the court ruling in the trial of Mubarak and his cronies. The revolutionaries took to Tahrir in numbers to protest the acquittal of six heads of police. One can imagine a big part of the silent majority wondering why the protesters are still causing mayhem even though both Mubarak and his minister of interior affairs got lifetime in prison. Another part of the silent majority probably sees, just as the revolutionaries do, that the verdict is simply a bone thrown to them by the regime. That segment of the silent majority have understanding for where the revolutionaries are coming from but feel that the revolutionaries are detached from their reality where - as they see it - protest can only lead to the un-fulfillment of basic needs for the ordinary people.

Egypt's presidential election runoff is between the regime's candidate Shafiq - Mubarak's old prime minister and previously head of Egypt's air force - and the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Morsy. The silent majority think the solution to its problems is voting for Shafiq. The revolutionaries look to the Muslim Brotherhood for deals - many revolutionaries want to trade their endorsement of Morsy for shared power and guarantees that the Muslim Brotherhood won't dominate the writing of the new constitution if they win the presidential race.

The regime's strategy is clear: gain the support of the silent majority and you don't have to care about either the opinions of revolutionaries or their foreign contacts.

The regime's tactics are also clear: create chaos (by withdrawing police to create a security vacuum, by causing reasons for protests to spark without the sympathy of the silent majority and then attack those protesters), blame it on the revolutionaries and claim that support of the regime is the only way back to stability.

The revolutionaries' strategy is derived from its internal goals and desires without taking their surrounding reality into account. Protesting and making deals with the Muslim Brotherhood will not gain the revolution support from the masses.

For the revolution to succeed it needs to regroup and find and implement a strategy that does take its context into account. A strategy that secures free and fair elections again in four years and in the same time reaches out to the silent majority and gets its support. The surprise success of the socialist presidential candidate Sabbahi, who came in third in the primary election not far behind Shafiq, might be presenting a solution. His campaign slogan, 'One of us', offered a third political direction in opposition to both the regime and the Muslim Brotherhood. He presented the silent majority with a viable alternative and gained support. A support that can be a lot bigger if the revolutionaries close ranks behind him and focus on politics -  not on protests that alienate both him and them from the silent majority.

The revolutionaries need an established strategy focusing on politics and media and not protests because the bottom line is that their current behaviour, protest in Tahrir, is playing straight into the hands of the regime.

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