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Cover Story North Africa Four, and most importantly, that each African state is different

(and the differences are even starker between North Africa and the rest of Black Africa), and to truly understand how to ensure profound transformation, one cannot simply follow the Egyp- tian example but needs to understand the key structural issues at stake in any one state, particularly the mix and relationships between the ruling elite, army, land and business classes, ethnic and regional groups, religious communities, middle classes, urban and rural poor, and the influence of external powers. Egyptians no longer wanted to be ruled by Hosni Mubarak.

Tey also want the corrupt and authoritarian regime he put in place dismantled and replaced by a democratic system. Tey want, as some protestors said, “to shape their own destiny”. Tey will have to shape this destiny within the context of three

factors – first, the structure of their state; second, the structure of their economy; and third, interference of others. Taking the structure of the state first, they have discovered

that at the moment all they have is negative power. Teir mobi- lisation has given them the power to determine who cannot lead the state, but they have not yet been able to decide who can. In their way stands the immovable object of the army. In its various forms the army has been the central pillar of the

state since the 1952 Free Officers’ coup, the first of Egypt’s post- war revolutions. Te 1952 revolution overthrew the monarch, King Farouk (the last vestige of the Ottoman presence) and led in 1954 to the exit of the British military which had been supporting him. Te army under the charismatic President Gamal Nasser be-

gan a top-down nationalist project to spearhead an independence that would be territorial and pan-Arab, and economic (nation- alisation of the Suez Canal). But this involved the people only as cheerleaders. Te army’s territorial and pan-Arab independence ambitions

collapsed after two wars in 1967 and 1973. Anwar Sadat, Nassar’s successor, dramatically reined in those huge external pan-Arab independence ambitions, dumping the Soviet Union, realigning with America, and entering a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Mubarak, Sadat’s deputy, scaled down even further those ex-

ternal ambitions, following Sadat’s assassination on 6 October 1981 by Islamists who had now repackaged the territorial and pan-Arab ambitions in revolutionary religious ideology. Revolutions need momentum. In order to inspire the doubters

and widen their support, revolutions need to keep expanding their ideological horizons and taking new ground. As Mubarak and the army’s secular revolutionary potential became exhausted, their only remaining ambition was “stability” – to keep things the same and “guarantee security”. Stasis came to define Egypt in political, economic and geo-strategic terms. Te “stability” and “security” that Mubarak achieved was used to further entrench the army in the economy – if the army no longer wanted to expand outwards as part of its nationalist project, it would instead deepen its roots internally in Egypt. Tis stretching of the military’s economic tentacles has been underwritten by the annual $1bn+ aid package from the US as part of the Camp David agreement with Israel. Te army were thus reinforced as the strongest and most

organised institution in Egypt. Te only other active and well- organised forces were those they tolerated. Te first of these was the police and security agencies, which deployed torture and fear to maintain the status quo. Second were the mosques, which they

16 | March 2011 New African “ Egypt is back. This time the people

are in the lead, expressing their power, demanding freedom, dignity and a new independence.”

were unable to close, and which became the most effective site for ideological opposition despite the crackdown on the Islamists. Most of the other institutions of the Egyptian state atrophied

over 30 years – especially the law courts and political parties. Even Mubarak’s political party, the NDP, turned out to be extremely fragile, being like many African political parties, simply a collec- tion of businessmen and other functionaries, who came together to indulge in rent-seeking, looting of state resources, and control over the commanding heights of the economy. Te ambition of Egypt’s second post-war revolution is complet-

ing the unfinished revolution for independence which was taken over by radical army elements in 1952. Te people want their power back from the army. So far, and at the time of going to press, they had got rid of Mubarak, the symbol of army power, but had not even begun to deal with the deeply embedded economic and other

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