The Arab Spring began three years ago with the self-immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi, and although the revolution throughout the Middle East was celebrated for inciting change throughout the reason, results of the uprisings have been varied from country to country. Nations such as Tunisia and Libya have seen political change in the form of elections, while Syria is still engaged in a brutal civil war.
If there is one nation where the outcome of the Arab Spring has been ambiguous, it’s Egypt. We watched as Egyptians packed into Tahrir Square to protest three years ago, and cheered when they were able to elect a president in 2012. They elected Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, which garnered a lot of attention, especially concerning the fact that President Obama was not happy with the results of the election.
One year later, it appears that Egyptians are not so happy with the results, either. This summer, Tahrir Square again filled with protesters against the established government. After three years and the deaths of over 800 people, the question still persists in Egypt: is the revolution over?
In November, the government erected a simple monument to the rebels that lost their lives in Tahrir Square. The monument embodied both sides of this question. To government supporters, it marked the success of the revolution, but to critics, the monument represented a government that is still backed by the same military and police as Hosni Mubarak, who were responsible for the deaths of so many.
For the first time since the July military coup that ousted Morsi from power, protesters again took to Tahrir Square, defacing the monument in opposition to the Egyptian military. The military is approaching this coup in the same way they approached the fall of Mubarak: rewriting the constitution and planning new elections for the spring, while simultaneously cracking down on Islamists and activists associated with the revolution and consolidating the power of the military.
With Egyptian military field marshal Abdel Fattah Sisi poised for a presidential run this spring, the battle over the narrative of the Arab Spring will no doubt continue to rage on. Will this election finally give the Egyptian people the peace they have sought for three years, or will the rise of another military-backed government incite more violence and rebellion?