On 22 January 2012, two days before the then MB-controlled parliament convened for the first time, I hosted a party at my house. The moment you enter the door of the apartment, you face a big banner that said: “The Muslim Brotherhood are coming… quickly grab a drink or two”. Needless to say, the guests heeded the advice, and the rest was a glorious entry into the history of drunken debauchery and a great source of pride for me. Two years later, and on the day of my 33rd birthday, I am writing this article instead of a banner, with a similar message: “President Sisi is coming… Let’s party!”
While many might sneer at the notion of celebration given the dark times we have been in since 30 June, with activists and journalists in jail on bogus charges, the occasional bombing, the hundreds of death sentences that are being thrown around, the complete destruction of the baby democratic institutions that we attempted to build and the onset of yet another military ruler, I do not join them in the sneering or depression. This is all horrific, and yet also expected. Logic states that when you try to bring a regime down, and you fail as gloriously as we have, that regime will naturally come after you and try to decimate you. In that context, the Sisi presidency is planned to be the final nail in our coffin, and I say bring it.
Away from the panic and the doom and gloom rhetoric, there are only two possibilities that come with Al-Sisi’s presidency: He either succeeds, or fails. In order for him to succeed, he will need to (a) Create economic policies that lead to true and sustainable economic reform , high growth and employment, (b) Create new legislation and laws that would reform the government and its service sector, (c) rein down the corruption in the different state institutions, (d) reform and modernise the police to the point that makes them an effective crime and terrorism fighting machine, (e) Manage the state’s finances in order to reduce the deficit, pay back the debt, and reform the subsidies, and (f) Somehow reform the judiciary to give them the credibility that they need to function as the arbiter in all legal matters, which is necessary for foreign investment to come. Oh, and also bring back tourism to a country that currently has the one of the worst public images world-wide, while also having a “war on terrorism”. All of that in two years, if he wishes to finish his term and save his neck.
If he succeeds, then this is excellent news for the country, and a victory for the revolutionaries. The revolution started because of all of these issues, which were not being addressed in any real or effective manner by the Mubarak regime. If anything, one can rest assured that it wasn’t all for naught; that we forced our government to confront its failings and short-comings, and reform itself successfully in all the ways that matter for the average Egyptian citizen. If Sisi gets the credit, so be it, he would’ve earned it and thus deserve it.
If Sisi tries to maintain the status quo or cut corners around those issues, then we will face the second possibility, which is that he will undoubtedly fail. The last four years have managed to put the country in such a condition socially and economically, that half measures will simply not do and will not be accepted on any level; he will have to face a wrath that would be unequalled and unprecedented in its scope. His failure would not only end him, but it would end the myth of the necessity of military rule, and the need for a re-incarnation of Abdel Nasser. Nasserism needs to be put out of its misery forever, given its historic failures that affected Egypt for the past 60 years. The myth of the military state that would bring prosperity and stability will join the myth of the Islamic state in the trash bin of Egyptian history forever, with the general population finally admitting that they are both failed and unworkable models. And who knows, maybe they will finally get it in their heads that we have no alternative but to live together, respect each other, and start building a state that brings us in the 21st century, instead of being perpetually stuck in the 80’s. And hasn’t that been our goal all along?
So, sit back, relax, and let the next two years unfold as they should. You can stay in the country or leave; you can join the efforts to rebuild the country or stay at home; you can focus on yourself or focus on your cause; either way, there are only two conclusions for what’s to come, and in both cases the country will move forward, because of you and what you started. Your sacrifices, your tireless efforts, even the loved ones you’ve lost to death or incarceration will not be for nothing. Either way this plays out, you have already won. You just don’t know it yet.
So, here is to you. To your tireless efforts to change the unchangeable, to the commitment you demonstrated and your fighting spirits when all seemed lost, to your perseverance and exemplary courage you showed in the face of impossible odds, to your steadfastness while your reputation was being tarnished and your freedoms were being taken away. You weathered what would break lesser beings, and you are still here. And that isn’t something to shrug off.