Egyptian uprising is not quite a revolution

By Nader Hasan, COLUMNIST
On July 21, 2011

Months have passed since the eventual fall of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, but little has progressed in the Arab world's most populous country.

The popular view among the public is that the Egyptians have successfully achieved a revolution. Though some Egyptians have even accepted this view, it is far from the truth.

Various scholars of revolutions accept that the very term "revolution" is hard to define. However, James DeFronzo, author of the book "Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements," states that revolutions are organized movements that attempt to drastically alter the existing political, economic and social institutions.

In relation to the so-called Egyptian Revolution, the political institutions - the many individuals that control the autocratic state - have yet to be replaced. For example, just before Mubarak's resignation he appointed Mohamed Hussein Tantawi as head of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces. Tantawi - who served as Egypt's defense minister for more than two years as Mubarak's loyal "poodle," according to a leaked State Department cable posted on WikiLeaks - also kept his position as commander in chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces.

Nathan Brown, an international affairs and political science professor at George Washington University, logically said to ABC News that someone who serves in any regime for as long as Tantawi "is part of the regime … I would be surprised if he kept his job that long without being loyal (to Mubarak)."

The success of the Egyptian protests must not be overestimated - to this day they remain nothing more than popular uprisings. Many of the grievances aired by protesters will not be met until elections later this year, if then.

Egyptian protesters are also missing yet another key factor in determining the success or failure of a revolution. According to DeFronzo, for an organized revolution to come about, it is critical to have politically savvy dissident elites guiding the revolution.

Surely, the success of revolutions in areas such as Iran, Cuba, and Vietnam were due to the leadership provided by Ayatollah Khomeini and Ali Shariati, Ernesto "Che" Guevara and Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh, respectively. Such elites are usually responsible for developing the guiding principles for the potential revolution - principles absolutely lacking in the Egyptian social movement.

What the world is observing is a cry for democracy, as well as a more developed economic structure. A more structured ideology is needed for an organized and successful outcome in Egypt - only then can the grievances of the masses be addressed.

Mubarak's removal must not be treated as a successful revolution. To do so would only give the current regime the illusion of democracy. Revolution will only be achieved when the major players of the Mubarak era are removed. However, the efforts of Egyptians are certainly a significant beginning.

Nader Hasan is a senior majoring in international affairs and religious studies.

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