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Revolution 2.0

Author: Steven A. Cook, Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies
November 22, 2011
Foreign Policy


Once again, tear gas hangs over Tahrir Square. For the third straight day, Egyptian activists, ordinary citizens, Islamists, and soccer hooligans called the "Ultras" battled the Central Security Forces (CSF) -- paramilitary troops under the command of the Ministry of Interior. The revitalized protest movement has prompted suggestions that Cairo may be on the verge of another revolutionary wave, similar to the one that overthrew Hosni Mubarak in February.

As one Egyptian activist on Twitter noted gleefully, "I went to sleep and I woke up on January 28th [the Day of Rage]." But as the death toll currently stands at 23 and the wounded at more than 1,700, how is it that some Egyptians still long for what has been a spasm of violence and fear?

What is happening in Tahrir Square -- as frightening as it is -- may very well be a clarifying moment. From the start, the Egyptian military's declarations that it was preparing the ground for democracy were far from credible. The officers' interest in remaining the sole source of political legitimacy and authority, the military's economic interests, and the Ministry of Defense's conception of stability are simply not compatible with a more democratic Egypt.

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