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Why Egypt needs evolution, not revolution

The more unstable the country becomes, the more its government speaks about stability

Maria Dubovikova

Published: Updated:

“The Egyptian regime lived in fear of opposition,” wrote prominent Egyptian activist Wael Ghonim in his book Revolution 2.0. He continued: “It sought to project a facade of democracy, giving the impression that Egypt was advancing toward political rights and civil liberties while it vanquished any dissident who threatened to mobilize enough support to force real change."

This sounds like an accurate description of the current government in Egypt, but it is refers to that of former President Hosni Mubarak. The more unstable the country becomes, the more its government speaks about stability and uses oppressive methods to guarantee it, and the more Egypt rages. However, the government and its opponents are both wrong.

Youth

At the start of his rule, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took an important and promising step that could have changed the course of modern Egyptian history: He relied on the country’s youth. However, he failed to maintain this as a pillar of his rule, yielding to the old regime, to corruption, and to other vices that have historically poisoned Egypt’s development.

The youth have become outsiders in the building of the new Egypt, and are considered dangerous for its stability due to their desire for change and a better future. By oppressing and punishing them for taking a civic stand, and for constructive criticism that the government considers a threat, the country is losing the guarantee of its future.

Egypt needs evolution, not revolution. This evolution should be based on the principles of communication, respect for criticism, and the will to change for the better

Maria Dubovikova

Educated youth are leaving Egypt, aspiring to satisfy their ambitions and have a life of dignity and safety in other countries, as there is no hope for such a life in their homeland. Those who stay - due to a lack of education, money or both - join those that resent that they have been robbed of the future they deserve. It is high time that the government learn to speak with and listen to the youth, rather than respond with police batons and imprisonment.

Criticism is not sabotage, but a way for the government to improve itself and correct its mistakes. There is no development without reasonable criticism and freedom of expression. There is no future for a country where civil society is continuously undermined.

The government needs to invest huge sums of money in education and providing opportunities. An educated society guarantees a prosperous future. Oppression and the pretence of democracy will doom Egypt.

Dual culpability

At the same time, however, those calling for a new revolution are also wrong. In past five years, Egypt has gone through two revolutions - a third one would be protracted, bloody and chaotic.

A major problem is that Egyptians have gotten used to relying on a mighty leader to immediately realize their dreams. They expect a lot, but do not ask themselves if they have done all they can for their country and themselves. The problem runs deep, not only in a vicious and corrupt political system, but within an immature society. Revolutions as an instrument of change are a sign of societal immaturity.

Egypt needs evolution, not revolution. This evolution should be based on the principles of communication, respect for criticism, and the will to change for the better. Sisi has to firmly tackle corrupt elites and side with the youth. This could be risky for him, but not more risky than the way in which he is leading Egypt now. The future of a country that is a cornerstone of the region is at stake.
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Maria Dubovikova is a President of IMESClub and CEO of MEPFoundation. Alumni of MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations [University] of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia), now she is a PhD Candidate there. Her research fields are in Russian foreign policy in the Middle East, Euro-Arab dialogue, policy in France and the U.S. towards the Mediterranean, France-Russia bilateral relations, humanitarian cooperation and open diplomacy. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.