May 25, 2011

Courage, Recklessness and Idiocy

One needs to know where each of those starts and where it ends. Facing danger is courageous, ignoring the presence of a danger is reckless and not realizing that there is a danger is idiotic. Facing the police on January 28th was courageous, holding a protest in front of the Israeli embassy was reckless and definitely not realizing what the majority of the population really thinks about this revolution is idiotic. Deciding to have a second revolution is courageous, not having proper security in place is reckless and calling for a sit-in on May 27th is idiotic.

If anyone has any idea what the popularity of the revolution is on the ground today, they would think a million times before holding another protest, let alone another sit-in. I initially oppose the upcoming protest, not because I'm against demonstrations and not because I'm against the demands (probably because I still can't figure out what are the exact demands) but mainly because I believe that the movement is totally unorganized, lacks direction and focus.The absence of any leadership whether elected or self-imposed is the main reason why there is such disconnect between the pressure and the actual realization of the demands. The Cat and Mouse game being played with the SCAF is the definition of chaos: a protest is planned, two days before the SCAF starts taking some decisions. At which stage, protesters think that they made a win and the pressure should continue. But the truth of the matter is that the decisions are random and are not following any specific priority list. Moreover, most of the decisions are not tied to a time frame and there is no mechanism to follow them up. But possibly also because the demands themselves are not part of a coherent vision with a clear time plan. The randomness of the demands, coupled with the randomness of the decisions being taken is – to say the least – counterproductive.

This back and forth process is not only counterproductive it is sending a very worrying message to the silent majority: "nobody has any clue where this country is going". If the two parties that seem to hold the fate of this country in their hands (revolutionaries and SCAF) do not have any control on where things are going, then we're screwed. Revolutionaries don't seem to agree on the course to be taken: yes to presidential council, no to presidential council, yes to delaying elections, no to delaying elections, constitution before elections, constitution after elections.. and the list continues. On the other hand, the SCAF isn't really setting a clear path neither, they say one thing and when the pressure rises they do another. Both parties have a reactionary approach which leaves one wondering if anyone can really guide this country through the coming period.

The silent majority, which was not so silent on February 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th, is now watching the tug of war. They are watching this struggle while thinking about their security, their money and their future. They will place their bets (a lot already did) on one of the two parties. The first one says it has a plan, has access to the media and is continuously sharing their fears of security and the economy. The other party is unorganized, has no media (thus cannot reach them), is continuously causing road blockages, violent confrontations and hasn't really delivered anything except complete chaos. Moreover, they are really not telling anyone what the big plan is.

Now let's think again: do you believe that the best way to manage the next phase is to continue this cat and mouse game? Do you believe that you will gain the popular support that you had in February, the real pressure that ousted Mubarak? If anything goes wrong on May 27th, do you think that you will have the backing of the people? Are you facing this danger, are you ignoring it or are you not even aware that it exists?

P.S. If you are calling for a sit-in, I suggest you read this post one more time.


  1. I like your analysis about courage, recklessness and idiocy. At least there is a third option, not to be entirely binary. But out of being a devil's advocate, hadn't a statement like "but mainly because I believe that the movement is totally unorganized, lacks direction and focus." could've been said about the revolution on January 27th or 28th? This type of organic materialization of thoughts is what's really interesting about this revolution.

    However, I tend to disagree that SCAF decisions and response are entirely random. It has partially to do with the reaction in the street. And to support my argument, please read this interesting and revealing interview:

    I think the question now is how valid protesting is in the coming phase? is it the right tool? I think it should remain an option but other options should emerge. And as usual, the so called leaders are still far behind the crowd.

    It's really interesting to see how May 27 would evolve: a momentum for the revolution, or a stumbling block?

  2. It is very interesting to see how May 27 (today) will evolve. I think the randomness coming from the SCAF is because it is totally reactionary and whatever reactions it takes it is never stemming from a clearly set out plan. I feel that there is no real priority list that is following a clear path that anyone can relate to.

    I don't agree that Jan 25th the movement was fragmented, there was a clear list of demands (4 if I remember correctly) and even then, it only drew a certain number of people. The real mass protests started on February 8th, when the demands were reduced to one: the ouster of Mubarak. Right now it's more tricky because the demands are 1) much more and 2) very complex. Not many people can relate to say "purification of the media" or "restructuring of the legal system".
    But as you said, let's see how it unfolds :)

  3. I agree that there's a complete lack of vision on the SCAF side, and euphoria of visions on the protestors side including myself, and yourself I guess.
    To me, the past is over, what is really worrisome is the future, especially how SCAF will try to find an exit strategy or way out of power. I think this will determine the future of Egypt. Let's assume we'll forgive SCAF for whatever it did, and they'll be given a safe way out without any accusations of corruption; the main problem stems from the special status the Army has been given over the past 60 years and they won't give up easily. SCAF will stand against a 'fully fledged' democracy simply because it will mean transparency and accountability. Army budgets and benefits which used to be a black box for decades will be questioned by people like you and me.
    If you followed what Gen. Mamdouh Shahine said yesterday in the so called National Dialogue ( would see how SCAF started to reveal a real concern about its future. It desperately seeks an exit strategy following the Turkish model. That's really worrisome since it will create a distorted State and quasi-democracy. This is a structural problem to me.
    The difference between January 25 and today is that demands by then were Programmatic and clear. Today's demands are Structural and Institutional, which is more subtle and ambiguous to many.
    But again, I believe the organic nature of this revolution would sieve these demands and make them sharper and clearer to others. Let's hope no violence emerges today, and finally remember: the ones who reject going down to the streets today, are the ones who refused to go down on January 25 then manipulated the revolution. And guess what? That's relieving to me!