As I wrote in the first part, one factor underlying the success of the 2001 Egyptian Revolution was strong intraelite conflict.
The second factor that lead to an unexpectedly fast success of the protestors was the formation of a wide opposition alliance, which united in a single coordinated front very diverse forces including not only all the possible secular opposition groups (liberals, leftists, nationalists and so on), but also Islamists in general, and the Muslim Brothers in particular.
The situation that we observe now is exactly the opposite.
Firstly, the Egyptian Revolution made the Egyptian economic elite reconcile with the military, and in June 2013 they acted together in a well-coordinated front that allowed such a swift overthrow of President Morsi. No serious cracks in the new coalition of the Egyptian military and economic elites (that was formed in the first half of 2013) appear to be visible yet. The economic elites have understood that for them it turns out to be extremely counterproductive to continue any serious attempts to get hold of any economic assets controlled by the military, that it is much better for them to recognize the dominant position of the military in the ruling block, as well as the immunity and inviolability of the generals’ economic empire (among other things – through direct constitutional amendments). The economic elites have understood that any serious attempts on their part to get dominant positions in the ruling block may result in their losing incomparably more than gaining (emergent cracks in the ruling coalition are rather connected with the participation in this coalition of some leftist secularists – first of all, Hamdeen Sabahi and his Egyptian Popular Current [al-Tayyar al-Sha`biyy al-Misriyy]), whereas the continuation of the cooperation of this part of the ruling alliance with both military and [especially] economic elites can in no way be guaranteed – one would rather expect to see eventually the final split between the left-wing and right-wing secularists in Egypt).
Secondly, the Revolution with the subsequent Counterrevolution led to an extremely deep split in the January (2011) opposition “macroalliance”. What is very important is that this split took place along many lines. Within the overall macroalliance even the Islamist alliance was split, because the July 3 coup was supported by the second strong Islamist party – the party of Islamist fundamentalists/salafis Hizb al-Noor (as well as a number of prominent Islamic figures outside this party). Of course, the support of secularist-military regime by the Egyptian Salafi Islamists needs a special commentary (a special commentary is also naturally needed for the fact that in July 2013 the archconservative Islamist Saudi Arabian regime acted as a faithful ally of the anti-Islamist alliance that included an exceptionally wide range of forces – liberals, nationalists, leftists, ultraleftists – up to Trotskyists. The main point here appears to be connected with the fact that Saudi Arabia acts as the main financial sponsor of Hizb al-Noor. And as regards Saudi Arabia, the Muslim Brothers pose a real threat to the respective country’s regime. In 1937 in the USSR it was much less dangerous to proclaim oneself a Slavophil rather than a Trotskyist (in 1937 the latter [but in no way the former] would have led to an almost immediate execution) – whereas for non-Marxists the difference between Stalinists and Trotskyists could look entirely insignificant. Similarly, for the Saudis Trotskyists are a sort of unreal exotics, whereas the Muslim Brothers for them are almost the same as the Trotskyists were for Stalin – they are precisely those leftist Islamists who question effectively the very basics the regime legitimacy and may even take concrete steps to overthrow it. And against such a background one can easily understand the readiness of Saudi Arabia (and the UAE and Kuwait, which have similar problems) to ally with anybody (including anti-Islamist minded liberals and Communists, let alone Egyptian military and economic elites) in order to weaken in its own homeland the enemy that threatens the very survival of the Arabian monarchy (with the natural exception of the Qatar monarchy). On the other hand, for the Egyptian Salafis the removal of the Muslim Brothers from the legal political arena was somewhat advantageous (irrespective of any connections with the Saudi interests), as it allows to strengthen significantly their own positions, including the potential further widening of its presence in the Egyptian parliament – as the present-day main legal Islamist party of the country.
The secular leftist-liberal alliance has been also split, as the majority of its members were so frightened by one year of the rule of Muslim Brothers, that continue to support the present regime. However, the forces that continue to oppose the regime remain deeply split – as the anti-regime leftist liberal-revolutionary youth still refuses any idea of a new alliance with the Muslim Brothers; suffice to say that one of its main slogans Yasqut, yasqut illi khan, in kana `askar aw ikhwan is translated as follows: “Down, down with all those who betrayed – be they military, or Muslim Brothers!”
International Laboratory of Political Demography and Macrosociological Dynamics
Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration