November 23rd, 2013
The Egyptian Revolution of 2011 was part of a series of upheavals in 2011 known collectively as the “Arab Spring”. (Rastegari, 2012) The revolution focused on the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek. (Rastegari, 2012) The primary motivations for the revolution were political and legal issues. (Rastegari, 2012) Primary demands for the revolutionaries included the outer of Mubarek, ending police brutality, end of the “state of emergency” laws enacted by the government, and lack of freedom of speech. (Rastegari, 2012) In spite of these legitimate political issues, it was economic woes that truly motivated most peoples’ participation in the revolution. (Meguid et. Al., 2011) Economic issue plaguing the Mubarek regime included high levels of unemployment, price inflation and low wages for employees. (Meguid et. Al., 2011) The average worker in Egypt at the time made about $2.50 a day. (Meguid et. Al., 2011) It is clear that although the political/legal issues were compelling, it is ultimately the economic hardships that drove the citizens to revolt. (Meguid et. Al., 2011)
The Egyptian Presidency had belonged to Mubarek since the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat. (Rastegari, 2012) Economically, the Egyptians flourished in the 1990s and 2000’s under Mubarek. (Rastegari, 2012) This was caused by actions of the international Monetary Fund which relieved a great deal of Egyptian debt as a consequence of Egypt’s participation in the Gulf War Coalition against Iraq in 1991. (Rastegari, 2012) During this time, Egypt’s record regarding human rights and legal rights was not as positive. Mubarek’s National Democratic Party (NDP) held 388 seats of a 454 seat assembly in the year 2000. (Rastegari, 2012) In 2005, Mubarek won a presidential election in which his challenger won a decent percentage of the vote, and was subsequently imprisoned on bogus forgery charges for four years. Mubarek, however won 87% of the popular vote. (Rastegari, 2012)
Mubarek had tight, autocratic control of Egypt until his older son, Alaa gained a reputation for extreme corruption in dealing with government contracts. (Rastegari, 2012) His younger son,Gamal began to rise quickly in the NDP. (Rastegari, 2012) There was a general impression that he was being groomed as a successor for his father. (Rastegari, 2012)
Until the election of 2005 Mubarek maintained his presidency by referendum of the Popular assembly, which was dominated by the NDP. (Rastegari, 2012) After losing the election Anyan Noor, the candidate that had the second-highest vote total began demanding that the election be re-contested, citing “irregularities” related to low turnout. (Rastegari, 2012) Dissatisfaction with this election result combined with a rapidly deteriorating economic situation led to widespread unrest throughout Egypt. (Rastegari, 2012)
There were several main actors behind the revolution that began in 2011. (Wahba, 2012) One is a Google marketing expert who was in prison until February of 2011named Wael Ghonim. (Wahba, 2012) Since his release, he has become the “face” of the revolution in Egypt. He acts as the representative of several youth groups for the post-Mubarek government. (Wahba, 2012)
Another leader of the youth movement in Egypt is Ahmed Meher. (Wahba, 2012) He is a construction engineer who supported a labor strike in a textile town in Mahalla. (Wahba, 2012) He is a supporter of Ayman Nour, the leader of the moderate Tomorrow Party. (Wahba, 2012)
Mohammed Elbaradei created the National Association for Change, whose youth group participated in the protest in Tahrir square. (Wahba, 2012) He was someone who came up as a candidate to oppose Mubarek in an election. (Wahba, 2012)
The Muslim Brotherhood, an organization with anywhere for 100,000 to a million members is led by Muhammod Bahdi. (Wahba, 2012) In an election this ultra-Islamism movement could control up to 40% of the popular vote. (Wahba, 2012) It is this group that represents the “muscle” of the anti-Mubarek action that took place in 2011. (Wahba, 2012)
Perhaps the most prominent individual involved in this revolution was Ayman Nour, the leader of the Tomorrow Party, the opposing party in the 2005 election, which Mubarek won. (Wahba, 2012)
The revolution largely took the form of mass protests and labor unrest. (Wahba, 2012) It began in downtown Cairo and spread to other cities, such as Suez. (Wahba, 2012) The protestors made Tarhir square in Cairo their “home base”. Rioting throughout that and other cities continued for several weeks.
The Egyptian revolution was primarily motivated by two main factors. (Meguid et. Al., 2011) First there was the political oppression caused by the government enacting emergency law for 30 years following in the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat. (Meguid et. Al., 2011) This led to instances of police brutality, the publicizing of which in recent years had help to excite the crowds against the Mubarek regime. (Meguid et. Al., 2011)
More importantly, a series of economic setbacks made the problems in Egypt a far more immediate and serious problem. (Meguid et. Al., 2011) Living conditions in Egypt were already low by international standards and had been steadily worsening throughout the 1990s. (Meguid et. Al., 2011) Additionally, the disparity between the rich and the poor increased during the time period, causing increased resentment of the political oppression that had existed for many years. (Meguid et. Al., 2011)
In addition, Egypt has faced a relat(Meguid et. Al., 2011) ive increase in population leading to a spike in the population of the young and unemployed. During Mubarek’s regime, the population increased 90% from 45 million to 85 million. (Meguid et. Al., 2011) Since that increase all took place in a 30-year span, there was a corresponding increase in the proportion of younger Egyptians. (Meguid et. Al., 2011)
90% of the unemployed in Egypt are young people. (Meguid et. Al., 2011) Collectively, the youth of Egypt saw the government’s indifference to their problems as a major motivation to seek a change by any means necessary. (Meguid et. Al., 2011)
The most obvious result of the Egyptian revolution was the ouster of Hosni Mubarek. Mubarek fled the country; fearing trial and execution were he to remain. (Wahba, 2012) Additionally, various demands of the revolutionaries were contended within the time following the revolution. (Wahba, 2012) The most immediate of these was the resignation of Mubarek, which was made officially on the 11th of February in 2011. (Wahba, 2012)
A second demand of the revolutionaries was a cancellation of the “state of emergency” under which the government had operated during the Mubarek regime. (Wahba, 2012) This was granted by the new government in May of 2012. (Wahba, 2012) At the same time, they dismantled the State Security Investigation Service, which was another one of the demands of the revolutionaries. (Wahba, 2012) The Emergency law was repealed, but it recently was reapplied and numerous cases of police beating young citizens have been documented. (Wahba, 2012)
The conditions that were not met had to do with the economic difficulties still faced by the Egyptian people. (Wahba, 2012) The revolutionaries had demanded a raise in minimum wage to relieve some of the poverty that had caused the revolution, but the new government was unable to do this. (Wahba, 2012) The total unemployment rate for people under the age of 24 is still about 25%.(Wahba, 2012) The government has recently raised the minimum wage for workers of the State to about $173 per month. While this indicates a positive change, many argue that it does not go far enough. (Wahba, 2012) As of now, the increase does not apply to private sector workers. (Wahba, 2012) In addition, since 2011, Egypt’s economy has had the slowest growth in decades, averaging about 2% per year. (Wahba, 2012) Consumer prices are also facing double-digit percentage increases. The worst part about the minimum wage deal it that it doesn’t take effect until 2014. (Wahba, 2012) This indicates to some that it is a sham, since the interim government will not be in power at the time, and the new government could alter the increase. (Wahba, 2012)
Not surprisingly, the new government has been so ineffective at resolving the economic ills of Egypt that a second revolution took place in 2013. (Wahba, 2012) The sitting president, Mohamad Morsi was the victim of another military coup and forced to leave office. (Wahba, 2012) Unlike Mubarek, Morsi has not accepted his ouster and has vowed to fight to regain the presidency along with his supporters. (Wahba, 2012)
Another outcome of this revolution was the rise in power of the Islamic group known as the Muslim Brotherhood. (Wahba, 2012) While Western nations appreciate the freedom from political oppression that the emergence of such a group represents, they are unsure if fundamentalist Islam represents the form of government most likely to be able to address the economic issues facing Egypt. (Wahba, 2012)
While this revolution was successful is alleviating a measure of the political problems facing the county, the inability of the new government to quickly solve economic issues was the main reason that this revolution was unsuccessful.
It is these economic problems, combined with the surge of youth in Egypt than is the author of many of the ills that continue to plague Egypt. (Wahba, 2012) The economy has no easy fix, and the people are wrong to demand one from a new government. (Wahba, 2012) No matter who they place in power, the government will be unable to deal with high unemployment and low wages without taking measures considered oppressive and contrary to true democratic government. (Wahba, 2012)
As a result of the 2013 Coup D’état that was instigated by the military, the government is once again guilty of the types of acts that helped spark the original revolution. (Wahba, 2012) The police have been continuing to act un de4r the Emergency Laws that the Mubarek regime was notorious for. (Wahba, 2012)The interim government has been unable to make the significant economic changes demanded by the Egyptian people. (Wahba, 2012)
Indeed, observers believe that if some of the demands of the people are not met, Egypt will face a third revolution. The underlying economic and demographic issues do not change when the government changes. Few who aspire to leadership in Egypt offer any realistic solutions to their economic crisis. It is unlikely that further revolutions will cause the changes that are hoped for.
It is clear that economic causes were the more compelling factor in causing the Revolution in Egypt of 2011. (Wahba, 2012) The brunt of the economic difficulties facing the Egyptian people was taken by the young, who were the primary movers in the revolution. (Wahba, 2012)
Then fact that resolving the major political causes of the revolution did not prevent another one within two years is also telling. (Wahba, 2012) The repeated revolutionary feelings of some parts of the population were clearly not assuaged by the first revolution. (Wahba, 2012) This again points to the fact that the new government installed after the revolution was unable to quickly resolve the economic issues facing the nation. (Wahba, 2012)
As is often the case with leaders, the people of Egypt assign too much credit and too much blame to the leaders than they ought. The fact of the matter is that any government would be incapable of solving pervasive economic problems in a matter of months. The Egyptian people should allow their democratically elected government a chance to set the nation’s economy on the correct course, and not assume that just because results have been minimal thus far, that does not mean the effort on behalf of the people is not being made.
The Muslim Brotherhood is another factor in the ongoing turmoil in Egypt. While having the political freedom to act, the group represents a reactionary, over-religious viewpoint that has traditionally led to oppressive government and continued economic distress.
Continuing to revolt against the government whenever economic times are hard will only lead to the type of oppression that so many have risked and lost their lives to oppose. The long-term solution for Egypt is to invest in and support a government, not a party or individual, and allow it to take the necessary steps to enact a long-term solution to Egypt’s economic troubles.
Meguid, A., AlBanna, S, Korayem, R., & El Din, H. (2011) “The Economic Causes of the Egyptian Revolution” Retrieved November 23, 2013 from:
Rastegari, B. (2012) “Egypt’s Revolution: Causes and Developments from Legal Perspective” Retrieved November 23rd, 2013 from:
Wahba, K. (2012) “The Egyptian Revolution 2011: Causes and Effects”Retrieved November 23rd, 2013 from: