The success so far of the Arab Springs has been inspirational - it has shown the power of ordinary citizens to seriously influence the politics of their countries. However, the real crux of the matter is whether or not these countries can convert the success of having deposed dictators into a path to real democracy. And only after this can the Arab Spring be called a triumph.
Though, the Egyptian army’s questionable approach to preparing for elections and the drafting of a new constitution has raised some serious concerns. If we take a look back to when the army previously took hold in the 1950s, they promised a quick return to democratic rule. But the following decades were far from that.
Protesters have been it clear that they still reserve a deep cynicism towards the army. This has been worsened by that fact that many military figures who were involved in the decades of autocrat rule under Hosni Mubarak have largely escaped convictions. Moreover, the continuation of emergency law has made it extremely difficult for civilians to use the justice system against some of the atrocities of the army both past and present.
However, these qualms aren’t so warranted when we consider that the conditions of the 1950s were very different to the present; no longer is the West willing to accept autocrats for increased influence in the Middle East. Instead, the continuous pressure from developed nations on repressive states means that a democratic outcome becomes far more realistic.
That isn’t to say the Egyptian army are completely correct. Egypt and Tunisia are the models on which the wider Arab Spring is based, and therefore the army’s sluggishness may lead to a lack of belief that protests have been successful. However the West should not get too involved. The most important feature of egypt’s transition was that it was completely engineered from within the country, and that is what inspires most other protestors in other nations. So once again, the focus returns to the Egyptian people who must continue to show their hunger for change.