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Akshay Shinde asked: Can the return of military rule in Egypt be seen as the failure of Arab Spring?

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  • Gulshan Dietl replies: The present situation in Egypt does look like a reversal of the process that began on December 18, 2011. Muhammad Morsi, the democratically-elected president, is overthrown and is being held in an undisclosed location with serious charges levelled against him; his supporters, mainly the Muslim Brotherhood, have come under severe crackdown; more than 2,000 of them have been arrested; the Muslim Brotherhood itself is facing dissolution as a registered non-governmental organisation; some prominent journalists, lawyers and trade unionists are detained; Christians are under threat and some of their churches and monasteries are ransacked and looted. To top it all, Hosni Mubarak, the target of the Arab Spring in Egypt, is released from the prison and is now under house arrest – a highly symbolic move indicating a reversal to the pre-Spring order.

    The return of the military rule in Egypt, however, needs to be looked at in a broader perspective. None of the post-Spring states have so far achieved what the Spring set out to do. Egypt is firmly under the military rule, the government in Tunisia is facing popular protests on a daily basis, there is no real government in Libya, and Yemen is slowly turning into a haven for fugitives. The states that did not see a regime change are also in ferment: Syria in a state of civil war, ruthless persecution of the protesters in Bahrain, as also various forms of demonstrations, marches, sit-ins, rallies, strikes, etc., in mild to severe forms in most of the Arab states.

    The revolutions are messy and unpredictable. As long as the cauldron of discontent is simmering, and the regimes are responding either by suppressing it or by accommodating it, the Arab Spring will go on. The methods may not be similar and the outcomes may not be uniform in different states. And it may be a very long process as well.