Without American backing for the Egyptian revolution, without military support and the guarantees that allow Egypt to continue feeding its people, the military regime will collapse.
One of the main characteristics of a revolution is the rivers of blood. Velvet revolutions, white revolutions, the collapse of paradigms — these all have an honorable place in the history of pioneering political changes. But a revolution, in its nature the most acute and intense social change there is, also brings about bloodshed.
An Iranian friend once said to me, “We have lived through and survived one revolution. Those of us who have been through it never want to relive that experience.” The Iranian revolution lasted at least around five years and led to the deaths of at least 1 million people, if the Iran-Iraq War is taken into account.
Egypt, the queen of the Arab world, is currently experiencing a real revolution. It is at its peak and has reached a fatal stage, the bloodshed stage. Only fools would try to predict the outcome; a tidal wave is currently sweeping Cairo. Strength is humility when it comes to revolutions.
The army has clearly taken its gloves off. They understand very well that the situation is dichotomous: Either the Muslim Brotherhood survives and eventually recreates its political rise, destroying the military oligarchy, or the army destroys it first.
Not the Algerian Way
With so many people being killed in Cairo over one day of protests, it is completely clear that the battle will soon transform from the realm of public opinion and large scale rallies to fully violent battles for control: underground forces, armed rebellions, etc. The army is foreseeing this development and is therefore trying to eliminate the Islamist strongholds in the Sinai.
There is only one limitation to the military’s iron fist: the United States of America. Without American backup, without military support and the guarantees allowing Egypt to continue feeding its people, the military regime will collapse.
The United States, in the meantime, is letting al-Sisi finish the job — incidentally, exactly in the same way Obama’s administration gave Mubarak over a week to crush the young revolution. Mubarak failed, and only then did Washington turn its back on him; the United States goes with the winners. It wants the army to win, but its patience is wearing thin. Hundreds of fatalities at demonstrations are a matter not easily accepted by Congress and the public. The freezing of the aircraft deal was a warning sign to the army: Calm the situation or we’ll take a few steps back.
Every revolution is sui generis — of its own kind. However, the recent developments are more and more reminiscent of the situation in Algiers. Over there, since the early ‘90s, a low intensity revolution — in comparison to, say, Syria — has been ongoing, taking the lives of hundreds of people. We hope, for the sake of the Egyptians, and mainly for our own sakes, that Cairo is not stepping in an Algerian direction.