Without the civil society in place, any genuine push for a normal society ruled by just law and tolerance for all, is a pipe dream.
The overwhelming majority of Egyptians, in poll after poll, still have a fondness for sharia, that more than anything else will tell you just how far that society will allow itself to go in becoming a normal modern 21 century country.
The Rebels possess energy and creativity and, above all, popular demands. This has enabled them to twice mobilize large segments of Egyptian society and to overthrow regimes that they saw as detrimental to development and democracy in the country. Through mass mobilization they have succeeded already in creating, or at least in planting the seeds for, a new political culture among many Egyptians, a culture that does not accept passivity and silence in the face of tyranny and injustice.
They still lack organized power with deep roots in social interests and beliefs on a par with those of the Islamists or with the wealth and power of the military and the old regime’s networks. Their ability in this third round to translate their remarkable mobilization campaigns into institutions and policy is replete with imponderables.
The young people of Egypt led the January 25 revolution, and the army inherited it first, then the army jointly with the Muslim Brothers. And now under the rubric of Tamarod (Rebel), they have spearheaded again the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi, which they could only — or opted to — do through the army and with the blessing of religious political forces and symbols that did not get along with the Muslim Brothers. The Brotherhood squandered the fortunes it had achieved at the ballot box, and helped itself in its ouster from power. The army did not pay a like price because there is no countervailing power to make it pay; it remains a wild card.
Will the Rebels, broadly speaking — leftists, Nasserists, and idealistic youth and non-youth — be able to produce a better translation of their feat than in the previous two drafts? Will they transform the numbers they mobilized into an inclusive political system that seeks to achieve social justice and the dignity of the mass of the Egyptian people, goals the Rebels proclaim as their own? Or will they be stung from the same scorpion hole a third time, to paraphrase an Arabic proverb?
For many non-Egyptians, the trust — summarized in the popular slogan, “The army and the people are one hand” — that Egyptians seem to place in the army as a captain of political change is not readily comprehensible.