Egypt can’t endure another revolution – but reform is badly needed!

The ongoing attempt to bring Egypt back to the Mubarak era is certainly President Al Sisi’s most important oversight. Egypt has substantially changed in the last few years; we are now living in a completely new era, under very different circumstances that call for a leader who understands the true needs of his citizens. Egypt has moved far beyond Mubarak’s era, and Al Sisi needs to adjust his ruling mechanism to cope with Egyptians’ needs; ‘u turning’ our country back to either the Nasser or Mubarak eras isn’t only a ‘mission impossible’; it is a deliberate drain of the nation’s energy!

Revolutions often aim for perfection, wishing to do away with the past completely and to replace it with an idealistic future. The mission, while sincere, is impossible to realize – especially in a country such as Egypt where politicians, known to be individualistic and egotistic, will always have their disputes. Additionally, the obsolete mechanism that Mubarak managed to inject into our society makes it difficult to make the complete change that revolts always aim for. Due to these factors and many others, we have succeeded in ousting our rulers, but continue to be governed by the same ruling mechanism and mentality.

The failure of the 25 January 2011 revolution is sufficient proof that revolution is not the best option for Egypt; it comes at a high price to the masses who find it difficult to settle down to build a new state supported by a functioning ruling mechanism (a task that Egyptians are culturally not good at). Gradual reforms driven by the President are much more appropriate for Egypt – on condition that the President believes in and is committed to them. Political and economic reform, in essence, are meant to peacefully identify our challenges and work to resolve them scientifically with the support of both the masses and the elite – something that we keep claiming to be doing, but in reality are not.

Egyptians were doing relatively well economically during the Mubarak era, but they had several political demands aimed at enhancing their freedom and prosperity in the twenty-first century. Today, Egyptians are suffering economically – and politics is almost dead. President Al Sisi is doing his utmost to prevent another revolution; however, it is not his call. Leaving Egyptians with no other option than to revolt against the ruler will lead us to this unpleasant scenario, sooner rather than later.

Egypt is known to be a truly bureaucratic state; bureaucracy shapes the entire nation’s mindset and all its activities. Bureaucrats are the ones who drive our country, not the cabinet! They appear to support President Al Sisi, but in fact, they work only to serve their personal interests. The President will not be able to move Egypt one inch forward as long as these cadres remain in power. Al Sisi needs to make it clear that Egypt must be ruled by law! His recent announcement about reclaiming state lands seized by influential, corrupt Egyptians is the first step toward getting rid of corruption, provided the President can realize his promises.

Furthermore, we need to engage Egyptians who differ with the President in these reforms. Presently, no true mechanisms for engaging Egyptians politically or institutions to determine citizens’ roles and protect their rights exist. The state is simply blocking all political channels and Egyptians’ anger is accumulating. Al Sisi needs to realize that what suits him is often not good enough for the entire population.

Guided reform could easily channel citizens’ (including those who oppose the President) ideas and energies in a constructive manner. Egypt is in desperate need of a leader who can steer the country toward true reform that benefits from a large degree of consensus and support among the vast majority of citizens. Releasing citizens’ ideas and energies upfront, through proper channels, is much better than having their frustration erupt suddenly in the only form possible – revolution.  Reforming the Egyptian state is the only viable option left to the President. Is he up for it?

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