Robert Fisk: Egypt's revolutionary youth are being sidelined

World focus

Robert Fisk
Tuesday 02 August 2011 00:00 BST

Revolution betrayed. The Egyptian army now colludes with the hated Muslim Brotherhood to bring you – well, a new Egypt that looks much like the old one, cleansed of Mubarak and most (not all) of his henchmen, but with the Army’s corrupt privileges (housing, complexes, banks, etc) safely maintained in return for allowing the bearded ones a share in power. Cut out of the picture: the young and secular revolutionaries who actually fought Mubarak’s security thugs off the streets in order to rid themselves of the 83-year old dictator.

The picture is a grim one – Arab Spring turned into eternal Arab autumn. And the only bread and circuses to give the young Egyptians who demanded dignity in return for their courage will be the sight of the weary, disbelieving old lion in his iron cage at the Cairo convention centre tomorrow.

Yes, provided for the angry youth of Egypt – and to those families of the revolution's 850 martyrs – the trial of the company that used to run the whole shoddy enterprise, H Mubarak and Sons Ltd, all appearing in the cage the company chairman invented for his enemies.

An ex-dictator gone to seed or a revolution gone to seed? The prospects aren't good. The youth and secular parties suspect tomorrow will be a one-day "opening" trial and then a postponement of a month or two to give time for the former company chairman to die in his bed back in Sharm el Sheikh. "But we are trying him, just like you asked us to," the army will say. And they will hold further meetings with the Muslim Brotherhood.

It's not just that Field Marshal Tantawi, head of the Supreme Military Council and friend of Mubarak, is running the show. Here, for example, is Major-General Mohamed al-Assar, member of the Supreme Council, telling the US Institute of Peace in Washington how jolly mature and co-operative the Brotherhood have become: "Day by day, the Brotherhood are changing and getting on a more moderate track," he told them. You bet they are. They took over Tahrir Square last week, demanding the new Egyptian constitution be based on sharia. But Tantawi, al-Assar and the rest of the gold-braid brigade will do anything to avoid the real change the original revolutionaries insist upon.

Instead of the destruction of the whole corrupt system, the revolutionaries are going to get "reform from within", along with the plump, middle-aged beardies whose existence was the very reason why the Americans backed Mubarak in the first place. Later, no doubt, they can be turned into a threat again – once the spirit of Mubarakitism is back in place.

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