ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Egypt: Understand the UprisingSubscribe to Egypt: Understand the Uprising

The Price of Stability: Egypt's Democratic Uprising

Since the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace agreement, Egypt was touted by the United States as an outpost of stability in a politically turbulent region. But this "stability" came at a high cost for many Egyptians. Hosni Mubarak's regime was founded on the belief that keeping Egypt safe from the threat of religious extremism, terrorism and regional strife required a coercive security state that could suppress any political unrest through force and intimidation. That "stability" has now unfolded. This, however, has not been a sudden event. It has been brewing for a few years, with the timing and strategies of the democratic uprising growing out of a series of social and political mobilisations, which laid the groundwork for what flared up on 25 January.

The Road to Tahrir

What appears to be a sudden upsurge of popular protests in Egypt has a history of gradually building political unity among all those opposed to Hosni Mubarak's authoritarian rule. It started a decade back with the coming together of political activists from the opposed streams of Islamic and secular political activism and has been nurtured through a vibrant and creative political practice which has relied heavily on the tools of new communication technologies and social media. This has not only helped create a new political public in Egypt, it has helped moderate the radical extremes which kept Mubarak's opposition divided.

Why Egypt's Progressives Win

While Mubarak's social base of power appears to have been destroyed, an alliance of nationalist businessmen and the military is trying to come to power. However, they are opposed by a large alliance of working class, small business and women organisations and interests who are leading the massive popular revolt in Egypt for the past fortnight. An analysis of the social base of the various political actors in Egypt today shows why progressive forces are on the ascendant.
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