Mubarak’s regime entered into decline when contradiction and conflict reached their peak among the ruling class and junta, as with what happened previously within the 1952 family.
The contradictions and conflicts were the main motivation behind the transition from one president to another. This issue reflected primarily on the ruling class’ movement toward saving their regime, or the 1952 regime itself, which at that moment was threatened with collapse due to the tendencies and practices of the ruling junta.
This could perhaps be due to its flawed regional or international orientation, or perhaps because of looking after its narrow interests at the expense of the whole class and crudely linking wealth to power. Or perhaps it was the regime’s policies and practices which intensified the economic and social crisis in a manner that gave way to a potential popular explosion that would demolish the entire regime. It is more likely that it is a combination of all of these reasons, which are always responsible for a president and his junta arriving at an impasse before moving on to another leader.
On the other hand, it is possible to say that these conflicts between the ruling class and the junta always led to issues and conflicts within the ruling junta itself. And just like when the social crisis reached a peak due to divisions in the ruling class and a withdrawal from backing the president, in times of crisis, this ruling class becomes liable to influence by the opinions and tendencies of the other social parties. In all cases, this leads to a decline in the president’s image and the collapse of the regime.
The contradiction is that Gamal Mubarak and the party within the ruling junta were one of the reasons behind the divisions and instability of the regime. This could also be considered a reason behind the emergence of this contradiction between the ruling class and the junta.
At the same time it could be an attempt, according to some pro-Gamal Mubarak supporters, to revive the 1952 regime, which had reached an impasse. In other words, it could be the solution to the paradox within the ruling class and the junta. Here, we are not referring to Gamal Mubarak’s personal opinion, because he might have been interested only in becoming president, while perhaps the surrounding group viewed him as a means to achieve their different and likely contradictory goals.
Some of these parties had personal and direct goals, while the others claimed that they wanted to enact reforms within the 1952 regime by bringing Gamal Mubarak to the presidency, since the regime was unable to meet the people’s demands after the crisis reached its peak, or because it failed to meet the demands of the ruling class after Mubarak’s junta came to possess unprecedented power and wealth. In all cases, it was agreed that Mubarak’s regime, and most likely the 1952 regime, brought the country to a phase of collapse and it was time to apply drastic changes that might imbalance the foundations and constants of the 1952 regime.
In this context, some were attempting to leak the idea that Gamal Mubarak’s success would mean that Egypt’s first civilian president would take over, leading to lighter army presence in the public domain. This was leaked by various supporters of Gamal Mubarak to political opponents well-known for their democratic leanings.
The theory was also promoted within the ruling class; Gamal Mubarak as a president, they said, would return the private sector to its former status and eliminate unjustified state intervention in the economy. In this way we can say that the Gamal Mubarak project played two contradictory roles for public opinion, depending on the lens in which this role can be viewed or the orientation of the group or groups that revolved around him.
It would also depend on the way in which he was promoted among various social groups, and we can say that the primary role played by this theory was a reason behind the crisis of the Mubarak junta, drawing the ire of many because it gave the impression that the Mubarak junta would continue with Gamal’s arrival to the presidency. The second role was providing a magic solution to eliminate the Mubarak junta in the least painful way; Gamal would be the only president able to overcome this junta and renew rule without bringing Mubarak or his men to trial, because he would not be able to oppose his father with open hostility. Thus those promoting Gamal Mubarak felt that he had what others did not in terms of a peaceful transition of power while simultaneously changing some constants.
Accordingly, we are able to spot some contradictions, one of which is preparing Gamal Mubarak to rule after Hosni Mubarak for many years to come. Mubarak kept denying that he had anything to do with this at the time, while hinting that this would be completely shameful, without making any promises or obligations.
All surrounding groups confirmed this while claiming that there was a large and semi-public conflict between the president and his wife Suzanne Mubarak on one hand, and between his son Gamal Mubarak on the other, over inheritance and power. Recently, agencies leaked a story confirming that the president changed his mind, and that a group very close to him had already started working hard on the power inheritance scenario. The most prominent figures in this group were Safwat El-Sherif and Zakaria Azmi.
At the same time, other new agencies stated that the president had not, in fact, changed his position on the issue, but his deteriorating health status and inability to carry out his tasks led to some being transferred Gamal Mubarak and the group that revolved around him, setting aside the president’s desire. In the end, it seemed that inheritance scenario had already come into force, and the crisis was exacerbated. The contradiction here is that what might have been a solution to this crisis was indeed the reason for its exacerbation.
The second irony is that those who refused the inheritance scenario, the first tendency was a refusal of the 1952 regime itself in all forms, including Hosni Mubarak; these were, for the most part, the liberal and leftist forces. The second group which refused the inheritance scenario in the context of its rejection of the Mubarak regime did so on the grounds that Gamal Mubarak’s regime would become an extension or new poor edition of the Mubarak regime itself, and perhaps filled with the same faces, and this regime would be unable to be overthrown because a son cannot overthrow his father.
The third group refused the inheritance scenario because it could potentially destroy the Hosni Mubarak regime and its junta, with the irony here being that refusal of the inheritance rendered Mubarak supporters more loyal to him while those who opposed him hated him more.
And now, if it was known that the leaders of the military refused the inheritance scenario, and if Al-Sisi was one of those high profile leaders who participated in the ouster of Mubarak, the question now is: to which group does Al-Sisi belong? To those who refused inheritance due to their hatred for the continuation of the Mubarak regime (note that I am not referring to Mubarak’s person, or hatred of ousting the Mubarak regime)?
Al-Sisi has not given a straight answer to this question, but we may able to ascertain his answer by monitoring his positions and actions. If the man is attempting to change some 1952 constants, then through doing so he is engaged in the process of establishing a new republic. But if he is in the process of ousting Mubarak’s junta, he will be working to build a new ruling group or junta and provide a new edition to the regime or 1952 constants. Finally, if he is working toward maintaining the Mubarak junta itself, and depends on this in order to run the country, then the Mubarak regime will continue, with its image slightly improved. Then the question becomes: in which direction is Al-Sisi is already heading? Is the latest brief and fiery period, particularly the clash with the Muslim Brotherhood, which may be perceived as a personal battle, during which Al-Sisi managed the country enough to understand his real orientation, far-removed from the manoeuvres imposed by the complex conditions that he faces?
Farid Zahran is a publisher and writer. He is the co-founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party