A watershed revolution

Gamal Essam El-Din , Friday 1 Jul 2022

This week Egypt marks the ninth anniversary of the 30 June Revolution.

A watershed revolution
A watershed revolution


Today is the ninth anniversary of the 30 June 2013 Revolution, with media outlets, senior officials, and political figures vying to celebrate an event which saved Egypt from becoming an Islamist state.

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi is expected to deliver a statement on the occasion. On the eighth anniversary, he said the 30 June Revolution was not just a passing moment in which Egyptians expressed their anger, indignation, and resentment at an extremist regime, but was an expression of a sense of belonging to the homeland and loyalty to its values: “As we celebrate the anniversary of our glorious revolution,” he said, “I send a precious message to all those who sacrificed their lives by rejecting extremism and terrorism. We will never forget you.”

Al-Ahram political analyst Hassan Abu Taleb argues that the impact of the 30 June Revolution continues to reverberate across the Arab world. “We have seen regimes supported by the Muslim Brotherhood and political Islam movements in countries like Libya, Morocco, and Sudan collapse in the last two years. In June 2021 came the dramatic fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia, and even in Turkey the administration of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has opted to distance itself from the Muslim Brotherhood after an eight year honeymoon.”

“The 30 June Revolution created an anti-political Islam trend all over the Arab world where most people now view the faction as a source of economic trouble, sectarian strife and political mayhem.”

Political analysts agree that when millions of Egyptians took to protest against a year of Muslim Brotherhood rule in 30 June 2013 Egypt was on the brink of war, its economy in tatters, and ties with the outside world in disarray.

Nine years on and the picture has completely changed. Al-Ahram political analyst Gamal Abdel-Gawad wrote “Egypt began to stabilise only after Al-Sisi was elected president in May 2014, and even then the country was forced to fight the remnants of terrorist groups and help the state stand on its feet again.”

Abdel-Gawad noted that “despite its defeat on 30 June 2013, the Brotherhood resumed its war against the new regime, resorting to terrorism and assassinations and launching a media war.”

“In October 2015, when the Islamic State blew up a plane carrying more than 200 Russian tourists above Sinai, huge damage was done to the tourist sector and to the economy in general. But because people believed in the 30 June Revolution, they gave President Al-Sisi a blank cheque to contain the damage.”

“President Al-Sisi was able to make a successful deal with the IMF which helped stabilise the economy and ensure it could withstand the economic shock of the pandemic in 2020 and the economic damage of the Russia-Ukraine war in 2022.”

Abdel-Gawad argues that President Al-Sisi’s recent call for a national dialogue to set Egypt’s political and economic priorities is a natural extension of the 30 June Revolution.

“The call reflects the strength of the Egyptian state as it was reconstituted after the revolution,” said Abdel-Gawad.

“One of the ideals of the 30 June Revolution was to end the mixing of religion with politics and underline that Egypt is a civilian state.”

“While political reform was forced to take a back seat during a period in which the priorities were to defeat terrorism, restore internal stability, achieve economic reform, and recover Egypt’s role in the Arab world, Africa, and the Middle East, now these objectives have been achieved political reform has climbed to the top of agenda. The national dialogue which will start in the first week of July will prioritise one of the goals of the 30 June Revolution, the full democratisation of Egypt.”

Gamal Zahran, professor of political science at Suez Canal University and a former independent MP, agrees that the 30 June Revolution helped restore Egypt’s role in the Arab world.

“Even Qatar, which supported the Muslim Brotherhood after its regime in Egypt was removed in 2013, now admits the 30 June Revolution was positive,” says Zahran. “The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani even visited Egypt last week and congratulated President Al-Sisi on the ninth anniversary of the 30 June Revolution.”

Zahran says that while the 30 June Revolution caused tensions with the US, nine years later most American politicians have recognised the overwhelming impact of the uprising.

US President Joe Biden will visit the region in July and is scheduled to meet with leaders of Arab Gulf countries, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq.

“He will be here to contain the damage that has been done to America’s relations with these countries since he came to office, and to recognise their influential role in the region and capacity to keep their nations safe in an increasingly troubled world,” says Zahran.

A version of this article appears in print in the 30 June, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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