For some reason, towards the end of every year I feel emotionally detached from the many wishes and hopes of a happy New Year. I always wonder what difference it would make waking up the following day in a year that has a different digit to the right. However, I still like these good wishes as a kind of a motive for human beings to communicate with each other and an acceptable (though artificial) reason to feel positive, even with the absence of any realistic logic behind it.
I have received many New Year wishes this year, like every year, and I have observed more on Facebook, in a kind-of status euphoria, hoping for a peaceful and prosperous 2013 for Egypt. I even engaged in sending many messages myself, out of a sense of being nice to those who always cared. One should not be ideologically cruel at the end of the day.
It is great to be optimistic, and I insist that optimism is, and should remain, the main factor in making the dreams of this suffering nation come true. However, a bit of rational and realistic understanding of the political chaos we are living through is essential.
I am still optimistic about the near future of Egypt, though not necessarily for 2013. Can I predict a peaceful year, as others wish for? I doubt it!
The only two differences that this revolution has brought to Egypt, which are basically huge, are firstly; succeeding in bringing down Mubarak. And secondly; bringing Egyptian society into an unprecedented condition of political argument that will definitely reach maturity faster than we could ever have dreamt about two years ago. Other than that, what difference will 2013 bring to Egypt in comparison to most of 2011 and 2012? I assume there is no sign of political or social peace or prosperity in the horizon.
I strongly believe that this New Year will actually be more confrontational than the previous two. Now the revolution and the forces working against it – mainly The Muslim Brotherhood and the majority of Islamists – are face-to-face. It was simply a delayed but inevitable clash of values and goals between groups that were oppressed under Mubarak, and which did not like to fight right after his fall. 2013 is the time to watch and participate in this political clash, which hopefully remains only political.
After passing the awkward Brotherhood-tailored constitution toward the end of 2012, we should expect deeper and more aggressive waves of Ikhwanisation within state institutions on a much larger scale than the past year. We have to understand that the Islamists are very afraid of missing the Tamkeen (empowerment) moment and they are fighting against the clock, and many other challenges as well, in order to have their dream state fully established before their real plans and goals are fully digested by the Egyptian public.
On the other hand, the scattered revolutionary powers are also fighting against the same clock to get themselves united in one camp with a single plan to ensure the revolution’s demands are met. They might not be as afraid as the Islamists, since the revolutionary demands are for the absolute good of the people, who will side with them at a certain point once they get their pathetic-selves together. The Brotherhood’s aspirations are nothing but a hunger for power that will cave in sooner or later.
The counter-revolutionaries know exactly what they have to go through in 2013, which will not be an easy year for them concerning the parliamentary elections approaching soon and the implementation and interpretation of Egypt’s most elastic and obscure constitution in the past two centuries. I am not very optimistic regarding the next parliament, but “best of luck” to the Brotherhood in dealing with the constitution they enforced. Let us watch how the Egyptian street reacts.
As for the revolutionaries, the challenge is that they do not know exactly how to navigate this confrontation. Simply, it was not planned that yesterday’s partners in opposition to Mubarak would become today’s Mubarak. Actually even worse, given that they claim having God on their side, which Mubarak did not dare.
Luckily, for the 68 per cent of Egyptians that did not go to vote on the referendum, the constitution is just a piece of paper, like many of Mubarak’s papers, unworthy of the ink it is written in.
The direction taken this year largely depends on the revolutionaries and how they organise themselves and make their thoughts, goals, demands and strategies clear and comprehensible to the average citizen.
What is actually new in 2013 is that this average citizen is clear in the head about which side to take, with or against the Brotherhood’s policies, which was not the case over the past two years where stability, love and peace were all embodied in one platonic goal expected to come from heaven.
2013 is indeed a year of optimism and a hope of positive change, given the small signals of maturity sent by both the revolutionaries and the average citizen. But let us get rid of this group-hug atmosphere and be realistic about what this year brings to us. It will be a political war!