In the last four months, almost every Friday Tahrir Square has either experienced a demonstration against the Supreme Military Council (SCAF) or clashes between the revolutionary youth and the security forces. In these confrontations, more than 100 people have died. The escalation of protests culminated last week in a general strike that did not have much following.
From my point of view, this perpetual state of agitation is due mainly to two factors: the constant abuses committed by the State institutions against activists and civil liberties; and the popular and leaderless nature of the Egyptian revolution, which has become a sort of religion for some Egyptians, as AUC Professor Samer Soliman argues.
There are dozens of revolutionary groups, and a lot of the young activists do not follow any of them. “Ana mustaquil!” (I am independent!), proclaim many demonstrators when asked to which organization or party they belong to. This fact makes that there is always some group ready to make a call for a concrete action.
From my point of view, this constant revolution will fail to achieve its main official aim: to force the fall of the SCAF before the deadline for the transfer of power to a civilian president, which is June 30th. A large part of the population feels tired of clashes and demonstrations, and longs to calm hoping that it will help reactivate the damaged Egyptian economy.
This does not necessarily mean that the so-called “silent majority” sides with the SCAF in its showdown against Tahrir. In fact, although it is not easy to sound out the public opinion in a fluid political period such as this one, I think that a majority does support the transfer of powers to a civilian government after 60 years of a failed military dictatorship. But the bulk of it is just not willing to engage in the demanding actions required to topple the SCAF. And the rest fears the disorder that a sudden fall of the regime may bring, and prefers an orderly transition.
Having this into account, I believe that it is a strategic mistake to organize a rebellion with a weekly heartbeat. It just drains the energy of the movement, since few people, even among the revolutionaties, have the energy and time to engage in protest activities so often. I argue that it would be more effective to make less demonstrations, since they will be more massive. In addition, they always should be linked to a limited and concrete demand to SCAF, not something as ambitious as asking for its resignation. Toppling the whole military elite is much harder than Mubarak.
Most revolutionaries, however, seem to be convinced of the soundness of their strategy. They argue that, even if they don’t succeed in forcing the SCAF to leave power before the official date, their constant pressure is not fruitless. It is thanks to this push that SCAF makes concessions from time to time, and may renounce to stay in power after the June 30th deadline.
It is impossible to read the mindset of such an opaque body as the SCAF -do we even know for sure who compose it?-, as it is not possible to test whether a different strategy would be able to extract more concessions from SCAF with less victims. Let us hope this strategy will be good enough to have a democratic Egypt in the coming months. Contrary to the gloomy visions associated with the concept of the “Arab Winter”, I contend that History has not yet issued its final verdict on the Egyptian revolution.