What Consequences - if the Revolt in Egypt Fails?

Although like everyone else I thought at first the Egyptian dictatorship was doomed, I’m starting to think that the dictatorship may survive. Usually, dictators fall to popular uprisings when the momentum builds against them suddenly and they lose their nerve - if the revolt drags on too long without decisive result, it tends to fizzle. See for example China and Iran.

Naturally, Egypt isn’t China or Iran, and there is still of course every chance that the revolt will eventually succeed. But perhaps it is time to think of the chances it will not.

What then? What changes, if any, are we likely to see if the revolt does not succeed?

By not challenging the army and forcing it to take sides by marching on the Presidential Palace they’ve already lost.

Now it’s just a poker game with those holding the best cards seeing how little they can get away with conceding.

Meet the New Boss.

I think it already has failed. The VP is a Intelligence guy and very much the Old School. Americans are saying he’'s there main man, and I don’t see this guy making any real changes - promising, ‘"negotiating’" and the like, but not one bloody concrete move. Bloody hell, the military intel people, per BBC and Guardian, are still arresting people. What does that tell you?

Feel sorry for those protesters. I’'d bet they’re right fucked, can expect a knock on the door late at night in a few months…

I don’t think the game is yet certain, but I’d give the better odds that the regime will not now change (other than superficially or cosmetically).

And hopefully I am being too cynical

Al-Jaz are reporting ‘tens of thousands’. I suspect the BBC figure is a heat-of-the-moment translation error.

But heartening news. Tear down the whole kleptocratic torturing dictatorship.

Bye, bye Mr S.

Larger demonstrations won’t remove the dictatorship, using the same tactics that have not removed it so far.

The army moving one way or another could do it, as could the demonstrators storming the seat of gov’t. Without some sort of central leadership, though, that may be hard to organize - the demostrations attract a large number because they have a focal-point (the square). They have to leave the square in order to apply more pressure.

The longer the impasse goes on, the more likely the army is to side with the dictatorship to ‘restore order’.

Yes, this is what I have been arguing. It looked like the State had managed to buy time but now, hopefully, the demonstrators are showing they cannot be bought off. They probably will have to escalate.

So long as the demonstrators don’t have a leader, there won’t be a revolution. It’s as simple as that. You have to have someone to direct the power of the mob - and to negotiate victory.

It depends on how it fails. Assuming the protests eventually die down and that in a huge surprise Omar Suleiman wins with 88% of the vote in September, I’d expect people back out in the streets the day after the election, possibly accompanied by a Tienanmen Square-style bloodletting at that point. Not sure if the US would be able to justify continuing military aid if the election is obviously rigged (and given the media attention this has already received), but nothing would surprise me at this point.

Down the road, if the current regime stays in power, I’d expect things to progress towards a Zimbabwe-style collapse as their base continues to narrow towards the people being directly paid by the state.

I think the dictatorship has already lost though it will happen quite slowly. Mubarak may be able to save face and not have to step down immediately. However there will be a more or less fair election by September and some sort of democratic government afterwards. The key difference between Egypt and China/Iran is the close relationship between the Egyptian military and the US. In China and Iran the military was firmly under the control of the government and was independent of any outside power. When the government ordered the soldiers to crack down, they did the job. If the Egyptian military did the same, its relationship with the US would probably be crippled and that is a serious penalty. Also I don’t think the Egyptian regime is as ruthless as China or Iran and I don’t think they will massacre their own countrymen in front of the Arab world. If they are smart, the senior members of the regime and military will be able to preserve a lot of their power and privilege in a democratic system anyway. The military will likely play a similar role to the Turkish military.

What are the chances for some sort of gradual reform? Before these current events I would have said that, as dictators go, Egypt’s wasn’t a particularly nasty variety for the region (Syria being the worse offender).

I heard the dictatorship was announcing a 15% pay raise for those on the gov’t payroll, which was some absurdly high percentage of the pop …

There were several leaderless revolutions in Eastern Europe when the Wall fell. It can happen.

Even bigger protest turnout today, “hundreds of thousands” in Tahrir Square, rejecting Mubarak’s concessions and demanding he go.

The protesters made a mistake with “departure day”. Once it was over and Mubarak was still there, the sting was lessened on their demands. It shows how little power the people have, if Mubarak decides to stay in power.

Why would you want the regime to fall if there is nothing to replace it? If Mubarek simply packed up and left, the likely result would be one of two possibilities: A military junta-style regime, or a regime created by the most organized of the protestors - the Muslim Brotherhood, most likely. Either result would be bad, and the struggle to fill the power vacuum could easily lead to intensified violence.

What we in the west should really be hoping for is a ‘soft landing’. Elections were scheduled for September. Mubarak has already announced he won’t run. So either let them go on schedule, or accelerate them to May or June or something to give people a chance to raise support but make it close enough to clarify that the regime is really going.

It seems to me that the best result would be for Mubarak to announce that he is forming a short ‘caretaker’ government to keep things running until a new government can take power after the election. Announce that all current top leaders have tendered their resignations so it will be a truly new government and not just business as usual. Enlist the army’s support, and rely on them to keep order and make sure the election is fair. Invite international election observers to show that the election is fair.

If the people still riot and won’t stand for that, then the next step would be to call together some sort of hearing, bringing in representatives of the various protesting groups to bang out some sort of transition plan that would be acceptable to all.

The last thing you want is the government simply vanishing, leaving a power vacuum behind and causing public services to shut down.

Mubarak is 83.

He could drop dead if a fly sneezes on him.

The Army will back retirement.

And then, after a short spell in the hands of certain state priests they don’t like to admit they still have, he’ll be back at his desk the next day.

Meanwhile, Mubarak, for his health, convalesces at a German clinic/spa. Then it could work. But not if he leaves Suleiman the ex-secret-policeman in charge.

Mubarak’s been raising constitutional objections, saying there has to be a president in place for the constitution to be constitutionally changed. Fine, can he fire Suleiman and appoint ElBaradei as his VP? That’s all constitutional, isn’t it?

No more Tana Leaves, bub.

Endangered species.

This is a classic move. The people on the government payroll are also the demographic that is mostly likely to pose a threat to said government. It’s usually pretty easy to pay them to shut up. When Cameroon had it’s civil instability in 2007 (also affected by rising food prises) a civil servant raise (along with the decision to stop manning customs posts, leading people to be distracted by the opportunity to smuggle good from Nigeria tax-free) was instrumental in restoring order and keeping the regime intact.