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The Egyptian Crucible

MADRID – As Egyptians tensely awaited the results of their country’s presidential elections, a thread of pessimism ran through the discourse of the young people and secular liberals who had brought down Hosni Mubarak in January 2011. The “anything is possible” sensation of the Tahrir Square rebellion had faded, and now two candidates whom the protesters deeply opposed, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, and Ahmed Shafiq, a factotum of the old regime (and of the current military government), prepared to face off in the second round.

The triad of fundamental forces driving Egypt since the beginning of the Arab Spring – the military, the mosque, and the masses in Tahrir Square, each with different types of power and interests – was thus broken. Those who filled Tahrir Square 16 months ago were silenced, and the expected transfer of power from the military to a civilian, democratic government was thrown into doubt.