In Egypt, there is no Aung San Suu Kyi. The liberal youth who won our hearts with their mass demonstrations for freedom in Tahrir Square have, for the time being, at least, lost. In February 2011, they overthrew the Mubarak regime. The old pharaoh himself might be near death, but his successors are anything but. Nearly 18 months later the exhausted and leaderless revolutionary youth seem powerless to stop the old regime from reasserting itself.
The military junta's dissolution of the elected Parliament last week and its unilateral amendment of the constitution to stop the new President from exercising real power have been a catastrophe for this developing democracy. But the world merely watches without outrage: there have been no condemnations from EU governments or the US. The audacity of Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) knows no bounds.
Meanwhile, the stench of the sewage and piled-up waste in Old Cairo, once a cradle of Muslim civilisation, serves as a daily reminder to millions of Egyptians about the decay of their country. It was physical deterioration — the overcrowding, the lack of decent jobs, the hard-pressed schools and hospitals — that led Egyptians to lose their fear of the Government, and chant "hurriya, karama, adala ijtemaya" ("freedom, dignity and social justice") night after night in Tahrir Square.