Has Egypt returned back to its old state? Has the Arab Spring done nothing but take Egypt on a long detour just to bring it back to where it started?
In 2011, Egyptian youth banded together through social media and met in the streets to protest the long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak. At first, the military fought to contain the protestors and maintain “peace”, however, once the military decided to no longer hold them back, Mubarak resigned. This was seen as a huge victory for the people. After all, a dictator had been overthrown. The military was seen as a hero in the eyes of the people.
In 2012, Egypt held its first competitive presidential election. The hopes were that this would mark the end of formal military ruling and mark the rise of democracy. While the election was indeed competitive, the newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. This was the group that played a leading role in the Tahrir Square protests. The leadership under the Muslim Brotherhood along with the Tahrir Square protests brought about a new wave of unrest and extensive oppression, specifically of women and Christian communities. The very finite democracy that Egypt had was quickly eroding.
Once again, It was at the hands of the military that Egypt escaped the ruling of the Muslim Brotherhood under the presidency of Mohamed Morsi. On July 3rd, 2013, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, The army chief General of Egypt led a coalition to remove President Morsi. Another heroic act for the Egyptian military, but at what cost? The military had led anti-Islamist and extremely violent campaigns in order to overthrow Morsi’s government. The precedent had now been set that the Military can use unjust means to overrule the current government, a huge power gain.
Social and Political
In 2014, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi went on to run and win a 96.91% to 3.09% presidential election. He went about maintaining “peace” by shutting down protests. In 2011 it was the media that empowered the youth to stand up against a dictator. Now over 10 years later, the government was limiting the rights of the people to even express their opinions. Over the past few months, the number of jailed Egyptian journalists has reached an all-time high. Online platforms where protestors could share their opinions have become banned, and anti-government posts faced jail time. The political and social freedom fought for during the Arab spring seems very distant.
Besides the lack of social and political progress since the Arab spring, the economic status of Egypt actually seems to be declining. Despite the socially oppressive rule of Mubarak, it cannot be denied that the country’s economy was progressing. The Arab spring brought a sharp decline in Egypt’s economy as tourism was almost completely halted. The GDP of Egypt dropped to about 1.8% and it wasn’t until 2018 that the GDP returned back to its pre-Arab spring percentage. Unemployment soared during the Arab spring and continued to increase to over 13% until 2019 when unemployment fell to about eight percent only to soar once again due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
11 years later
Over a decade after the Arab Spring and it appears that Egypt has simply taken a 11-year route from dictatorship to authoritarianism. The beginning of the Arab Spring left Egyptians hopeful for what was to come, but after a series of unfortunate rulers, Egypt is now left at the hands of a military ruler who rules with iron fits, a clear goal for improving the country but at the cost of the voice of the people.
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Dentice, Giuseppe. “Ten Years on: Egypt and the Legacy of the Arab Spring.” Aspenia Online, 26 Jan. 2021, https://aspeniaonline.it/ten-years-on-egypt-and-the-legacy-of-the-arab-spring/.
“Egypt – Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Growth Rate 2027.” Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/377340/gross-domestic-product-gdp-growth-rate-in-egypt/. Accessed 29 May 2022.
“Egypt’s Arab Spring: The Bleak Reality 10 Years after the Uprising.” DW.COM, Deutsche Welle (www.dw.com), https://www.dw.com/en/egypts-arab-spring-the-bleak-reality-10-years-after-the-uprising/a-56336238. Accessed 29 May 2022.
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