Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly

Egypt under Scaf and the Muslim Brotherhood: The Triangle of Counter-Revolution

Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly

Egypt under Scaf and the Muslim Brotherhood: The Triangle of Counter-Revolution

Article excerpt

Introduction

The Egyptian January 2011 revolution initially created hopes that a genuine process of Egyptian democratization would take off and that through such popular legitimacy Egypt would restore its traditional leadership role in the Arab regional system. However, as forces with contradictory projects competed for post-revolutionary power in Egypt, these expectations appeared to be more a product of wishful thinking than of objective analysis. On the one hand, the old elites remained well entrenched in the structures of economic and political power. The revolutionaries who initiated the mass uprising did not assume the leading positions in dismantling the old authoritarian regime and building a new democratic one. Ironically, elements of the old regime, in alliance with anti-revolutionary forces, assumed these tasks, while the revolutionaries were marginalized and even faced a campaign of character assassination at the hands of the new ruling elites. On the other hand, the United States was alarmed by the overthrow of its client regime in Egypt and viewed this development as a direct threat to its regional interests. This prompted the United States to instigate a series of interventionist strategies that sought to contain the revolution and steer it, with the indispensible help of the new ruling elites, in the direction of serving its strategic interests in Egypt and the region. Under these conditions, the structure of the "uncivil state" in Egypt remained largely intact, raising doubts whether a more democratic Egypt could emerge from the ongoing political transitions.

This article purports to analyze the dynamics of counter-revolution in Egypt throughout an examination of the roles of the United States and the new Egyptian ruling elites-the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Brotherhood-based regime of Mohamed Morsi-in containing the Egyptian January 2011 revolution and directing its subsequent paths. The article will focus on the period extending from the outbreak of the January 2011 revolution up until the fall of the Morsi regime in July 2013. The main argument here is that the United States, the SCAF, and the Muslim Brotherhood emerged in post-Mubarak Egypt as a triangle of counter-revolution that sought to abort the newly emerging revolutionary aspirations in order to protect their interests, in turn leading to the rise of a new form of authoritarianism characterized by changes in state structure, coalitions, policies, and legitimation. The policies of counter-revolution were carried out at multiple levels, ranging from the control of state power and institutions, the suppression of the revolutionary and liberal movements, and the maintaining of the neoliberal economic doctrine of the Mubarak regime.

The Formation of the Counter-revolution triangle

With the outbreak of the Arab Spring's uprisings, the United States was alarmed about the implications that the uprisings would entail for its strategic interests in the region. It worried about losing its Arab client regimes, which became part of a comfortable strategic arrangement securing US interests, and the damage revolutionary regimes could inflict on American regional interests. This was particularly true in the case of Egypt where the Mubarak regime remained one of the most important US regional allies, fully acknowledged the American-Israeli approach to regional politics, and provided the best services to the United States and Israel in all accounts. This took several forms; chiefly among them were Mubarak's support of the US invasion of Iraq and the US policy to isolate Iran, and his close coordination with Israel against the Palestinians, including taking part in the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip, endorsing the Israeli military assault on Gaza in 2006, and selling Egyptian natural gas to Israel at prices much lower than market prices. This explains why the United States openly supported the Mubarak regime and sought to secure its survival until the last minute in the face of a rapidly growing mass discontent. …

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