The vast majority of people were struck with the impression that the judgment acquitting Mubarak was not simply a court ruling issued by an independent judge acquitting Mubarak from specific crimes, but instead served to acquit the personality of Mubarak and his regime in general.
We all witnessed how Mubarak’s supporters celebrated the ruling, while his opponents rejected the judgment, each acting in a manner that appeared to be exaggerated. A large number of Al-Sisi supporters who reject Mubarak’s regime considered the ruling not to have any political significance and felt that Al-Sisi could not be held accountable for it in the face of a wave of accusations launched by Mubarak’s opponents who considered, like most of those who supported the judgment, the ruling to be a testament to Mubarak and his regime’s innocence from all crimes. Therefore the ruling, to those how opposed it, formed a sort of shock, and what is much more important is that they connected the ruling to Al-Sisi, emphasising that the judgment was political and that the responsible party was Al-Sisi himself.
Following this, the group divided itself into two main trends: the first considered there to be a direct intervention from Al-Sisi and the executive power in judicial affairs by directly dictating orders, also believing that Mubarak’s regime, not necessarily Mubarak himself, continues to run and govern the country’s affairs. This is in accordance with what we all witnessed from the young people who protested the verdict, who chanted for the downfall of the regime as well as Mubarak.
The second trend, which draws a connection between the ruling and current regimes, purports that the current regime’s responsibility for the ruling is based on the judiciary in general and that there were no direct orders issued. However, this group believes that the judiciary is a prisoner to the biases of the state or ruling class and is heavily influenced by their convictions and beliefs indirectly. This trendconfirms the political analysis that explains that the ruling is related to the condemnation of Mubarak’s regime – not because of judicial orientations, biases, practices, or presidential agreement – but because of the judiciary’s performance in recent years declined.
According to this vision, a group within the judiciary is corrupt, which explains the reasons behind the revolution against the Mubarak regime and the bias of this class toward the revolution.
Those opposed to the ruling, and young people in particular, do not care much whether the current regime’s responsibility is direct or indirect. What is important to them is the result – the acquittal of Mubarak – and the feelings of rejection would not have reached this level if Al-Sisi had taken steps in a direction different from that of the Mubarak regime. The presidential statement issued in the wake of the ruling, for example, announced that Egypt would not move backwards and that the nation is determined to fight corruption. However, observers have not seen any steps taken in the direction of surmounting the authoritarian past or fighting corruption; on the contrary, laws that restrict freedoms persist and still new laws are being added. No steps have been taken to combat corruption with the exception of the latest draft law that toughens penalties for torture, concealing information, and bribery.
Al-Sisi, like all heads of the 1952 family, could possibly be the last of his kind and establish a new family if the road to democratic transition is chosen and a new republic founded. However, all evidence indicates that this will not occur. We also do not believe that it is possible for Egypt to move backwards, meaning that Mubarak or his junta would return to the forefront of the political scene and power. What is more likely is that the vision of the chief justice is the same as that of Al-Sisi and the ruling class regarding the crisis of Mubarak’s rule and how to end it.
The cause of the crisis, then, is a lack of seriousness in work and the existence of a corrupt clique within the regime.
Al-Sisi has been given responsibility for ousting Mubarak’s regime in order to get out of the crisis. We believe this is still in preliminary stages because Al-Sisi, even before taking on the presidency, entered into a battle against the Muslim Brotherhood and may not be able to take on another battle at present. He does not care at all about depending on political or social forces, and on the other hand, the Mubarak junta appears to be strong and cohesive, and its relations within the ruling class many.
The Mubarak junta which he faces is not just a group of senior employees that could be fired, instead representing, at their core, a group of businessmen. Clashing with this group could be considered a clash with businessmen, which has scared those working in the market and brought to mind the spectre of Abdel Nasser and nationalisation. This is what happened when Al-Sisi, at the beginning of his rule, tried to send a specific message to businessmen which some understood as his attempt to become a ‘new Abdel Nasser’. However, we understand this message as an attempt to scare businessmen because a large number of them are tied, in some way or another, to the Gamal/Hosni Mubarak group. This attempt ended with Sisi stepping down the direct conflict, but he did depend very much on the army to implement projects in a manner that largely excluded the businessmen.
He recently announced that during his service, the army has implemented approximately 2000 new projects, but more important is the state land unification law which stipulates that a representative of the Ministry of Defence be added to the boards of the General Authority for Rehabilitation Projects and Agricultural Development, the New Urban Communities Authority, the Tourism Development Authority, and the Industrial Development Authority.
This is what Al-Sisi is doing to confront the Mubarak junta, but the acquittal has pushed him to reconsider this long-term plan and begin taking quicker steps and measures to affirm to opponents of the ruling, particularly those that have spoken out about their hostility to Mubarak and his regime from within the class itself, that the junta will not return again.
It seems that the statements and legislation issued by the presidency following the ruling are insufficient in this regard, and for this reason we can expect in the foreseeable future than other steps will be taken to scale down this junta or at least in the direction of Al-Sisi denying a link to the group.
Farid Zahran is a publisher and writer. He is the co-founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party