In a recent demonstration in Washington against Egypt's persecution of its Copts, a demonstrator was chanting that Egyptians do not want another dictator; that since the so-called Egyptian Revolution, nothing had changed. He was holding a banner that showed the face of Egypt's former President, Hosni Mubarak, becoming that of Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF] and the current de facto head of Egypt.
Egyptian television is still in the grip of the regime; and cartoons that an Egyptian man turning into a donkey after having watched State-run media channels, circulate over the internet. The Emergency Laws have remained in place, and presidential elections may be pushed to 2013, or -- as in the tradition of dictatorships -- might not even happen at all. The one thing that did change, however, was the face of the dictator, from Mubarak to Tantawi.
The international media, imagining that popular sovereignty had replaced a dictatorship, celebrated the fall of Mubarak and welcomed Tantawi. The demonstrators of Tahrir Square, however, soon realized that their protests did not bring any revolution: in social and political institutions there were no changes at all. The SCAF now not only stronger than ever, it has become even more aggressive to prevent any further uprisings. The public radio International (PRI) reports that the army has tried "over 12,000 civilians in military courts since they took control of the country last February." The regime is putting people on trial to get rid of enemies and to intimidate people. "'All the lawyers we've spoken to have said it is a sham,' said Shahira Abouellail, one of a group of young activists who have been working on the No-to-Military-Trials campaign. 'It is not really a trial. You are tried by the military. Most of the time you are tried collectively so there are like 30 people there, and they all get prosecuted together, and they all get the same sentence within like five minutes to half an hour,' she said."
Although the Copts were the first victims of the Army's intimidation campaign in the recent Maspero massacre --in which the Army killed 27 Christians and injured 329 -- the security forces are nevertheless randomly arresting Copts and accusing them of organizing protests that destabilize the country. The Army also arrests minors and Copts who were not even present the day of the Maspero Massacre, just to get rid of Christians in the country.
In addition, the military council is expanding its authority on the drafting of Egypt's post-revolutionary constitution. The army is trying to fight the Muslim Brotherhood's influence, and keep draconian measures in place to protect its power. Most of all, it does not want any civilian oversight of its economic interests, from construction companies to Red Sea resorts. The author Robert Springborg, who wrote extensively on the Egyptian military, said in an interview to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's paper, El Masry Al Yawm, that he does not believe that the military would seek to hold onto power in the form of a classical coup d'état, but would rather seek to ensure that it will not be subordinated to any other power. "The delay in constituting a new system of government results probably not from a change in the military's strategic objective of 'ruling but not governing,' but from the tactical difficulties of forming a civilian government that forswears any meaningful control over the military," Springborg writes.
In the meantime, the country is preparing itself for parliamentary elections. Many members of former president Hosni Mubarak's now-defunct National Democratic Party (NDP) have nonetheless managed to participate in this election. As the Egyptian paper Al-Ahram reports, NDP members, refusing to be politically exiled, established a host of new political parties behind which to hide and clandestinely participate in the elections -- these include Nahdet Masr (Egypt's Renaissance), El-Mowaten El-Masri (The Egyptian Citizen) and Misr El-Hadisa (Modern Egypt). The Army, which holds the presidency, is allegedly supporting the former NDP's candidates, helping them to obtain a large percentage of seats in the Parliament. Al Ahram mentions that NDP supporters are expected to use intimidation tactics on elections day, as they did in the past, by hiring thugs to orchestrate the elections in their own favor. History reveals that the Army is the NDP's year-long special ally.
The London-based paper Al-Hayar published an extensive report on the Egyptian legislative elections, and mentioned that reports that the NDP was dissolved do not mean anything: it is still very much there. The former NDP's candidates, by hindering any law in the Constitution that allows a revision of the.distribution of wealth and power at both the national and local levels, are running in the election precisely to make sure that nothing will change.
The Muslim Brotherhood is also expected to have a good turnout in these elections. That way, Egypt will be under the will of two despotic powers: the Islamists and the Army. The country already was under the grip of both repressive groups; now, with the coming of the Egyptian Autumn, their power will be institutionally ratified. The victims will once again be the Copts and the voices if democracy in the country, who, for an instant, believed that a Revolution was accomplished, but now understand that the State will continue to intimidate them, persecute them, jail them and kill them.