Nonresident Senior Fellow Ellen Lust: “Why fear explains the failure of Egypt’s revolution”

In an article for the Washington Post, POMED Nonresident Senior Fellow Ellen Lust, along with Jakob Mathias Wichmann and Gamal Soltan, look at the role that fear and suspicion have played over the past several years in Egypt’s politics.

Five years after Egyptians took to the streets in the demonstrations that eventually helped to oust Hosni Mubarak from power, a quiet, fear-based cynicism has replaced boisterous, empowered optimism. It is tempting to blame Egypt’s failed transition on one side or the other — the Islamists’ overreach or their opponents’ incompetence — but to do so misses the fundamental role that fear played in Egypt’s transition from the outset.

All transitions are periods of uncertainty, but they differ in the extent to which contenders focus on the possibilities of gain or the fear of loss. When Egyptians took to the streets on Jan. 25 five years ago, they overcame not just the wall of fear between Egyptians and the regime, but one between groups within Egyptian society as well. That fear returned over the course of the transition, to deadly effect. Even many of those who protested, or applauded from the sidelines, to oust first Mubarak and later Morsi, have come to fear both the current regime and the alternatives. As one Egyptian commentator put it, “The Brothers and the Military: Two sides of the coin.”

To read the full article, click here. >>