‘Mubarak verdict – proof the Arab Spring in Egypt failed’
RT:Why do you think the court has ruled the way it has?
Catherine Shakdam: I think that is the confirmation that the military apparatus has gained control completely over all the state institutions. It is a proof that the Arab Spring has failed in Egypt: the dictatorship is now back in power. There is no other word to label, or qualify, or define what has happened.
RT:So do you think justice has been served here?
CS: Personally I don’t think so. I don’t think Egyptians will understand this ruling as justice. It is just a proof that the military apparatus has taken care of one of its affiliates and has basically allowed him to walk free.
RT:Do you want to say that it is the same kind of regime that was in power before and nothing has really changed?
CS: I don’t think anything has ever changed. Hosni Mubarak was always just a face of the military. The military was in power and has remained in power even through the revolution. Even under President Mohamed Morsi the military was always in the background ruling and pulling the strings. I don’t think anything has ever changed. What we see today is them going back into the forefront of, I would say, the state institutions and showing to the Egyptians that they are back in power and back in control completely and utterly.
RT:Mubarak's been cleared, the military is back in control. How much did the Arab Spring really achieve?
CS: Sadly, Egypt is going backwards in terms of civil liberties and human rights. I don’t think that democracy has been achieved. People wanted something to change and they believed that by removing Mubarak, but not the complete regime, the deep state, as I call it, things would change. As it’s been proven, nothing has changed. People are tired, there is a fatigue, people are scared, and they want to go back to normality. In terms of even economic hardship people cannot take anymore instability.
RT:What is going to be the normality which people are looking for?
CS: I think that people at this moment want to go back to normal. They want to go back to their daily life; they do not want any more political instability because it means that the economic outlook for Egypt will keep going downhill. They don’t want that, they are tired. They want to find jobs; they want to be able to live their lives. And if it means that the military has to be in place, in a way they have made peace with that. It is quite sad in terms of how much the revolutionaries have sacrificed to the revolution.
RT:What about the opposition? Do you believe anti-Mubarak groups and the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood are simply too weak as opposition forces? If not, who is going to fight them now? What do people want?
CS: It is difficult. I think there is a level of fear as well, there’s this immense state censorship. Because the Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and labeled as a terror group, people have this fear that they will be associated - should they speak against the regime - to Muslim Brotherhood and be labeled as Islamists which [can now lead to] a death sentence and imprisonment. …I don’t think [people] will be able for quite some time to organize themselves again. The people are tired and I don’t think they will be willing to back any opposition movements … they do not want to make any waves anymore; they have admitted defeat in a way.
‘El-Sisi’s policy beneficial for majority of Egyptians’
Lawrence Freeman, political analyst, on the contrary argues that “the policies of the current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, certainly point in the direction that will benefit the majority of people in the country and in the economy.”
RT:People in Tahrir are reportedly calling for a new revolution. Could this be the start of another one?
Lawrence Freeman: I hope that is not another revolution in the sense of the activation of the Muslim Brotherhood. I understand it brought a lot of tension and security concerns. But I think the most important thing right now, after over three years that the country has gone through this kind of turmoil, we’ve moved forward. The policies of the current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, certainly point in the direction that will benefit the majority of people in the country and in the economy. That is what people should be supporting at this time.
RT:You say you hope that things will move forward but certainly looking at what is happening there it seems that they are taking a step backwards. Police had said it wouldn’t be violent but it responded with force using tear gas. Do you think it is only going to worsen the situation in Egypt?
LF: There are efforts all around the world to destabilize governments. I think in Egypt, we know from the history that the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic extremists have done a great deal to disrupt normal processes in the government in Egypt and were defeated. Now you have a presidency that is trying to rebuild the country, provide jobs, widen the Suez Canal, expanding the agricultural program in the South at the Toshka project, and rebuild the energy grid of the country. We have to not allow insurgent or deployed groups to disrupt the government. This is a time when people have to realize the past is the past.
RT:It is evident that the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood still has a lot of power and influence in the country. What so you think about that?
LF: And that is unfortunate because the Muslim Brotherhood is part of this overall global policy for destabilization. We have seen that their thinking is along with some of the thinking of al-Qaeda, ISIS. The funding is coming from some of the same sources. That is why the President el-Sisi put so much effort into putting down the Muslim Brotherhood. They are not a positive force; they are not trying to help the country. Whether it is colored revolutions in Europe, or Nazis taking over in Kiev, Ukraine, or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt we should not allow insurgencies to disrupt governments who are trying to move forward and provide for the people.
RT:The police blame the Muslim Brotherhood for inciting the unrest and demonstrations in the country. Do you agree with that statement?
LF: There is going to be disagreements. There are a lot of tensions. It has been very tumultuous course for Egypt since January, 2011. However, wiser heads and leaders should realize that this is not going to help the country. There is not a basis for another revolution; there is not a basis for overthrowing this government. This government is clearly different than the Mubarak government. Even though it is not the Muslim Brotherhood but it is clearly different than Mubarak, it has a different policy, and it has a different intention, and should be allowed to go forward with the very positive policy. Look at the amount of people now being put to work to build this new Suez Canal. Look at the commitment of the country to fund these infrastructure projects. This is something we haven’t seen for a long, long time. That has to be supported and allowed to continue for the benefit of the people, this is the right direction for the country to go at this point.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.