Everywhere I go people are talking about the “revolution” in Egypt and how wonderful it is that the people have risen up to over-thrown the evil government.
Before last week, the Egyptian government consisted of a president (Hosni Mubarak) who ruled as Head of State and who was also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. This is not terribly unusual, afterall Obama is also both Head of State and head of the American military.
But there is a big difference: Egypt has been under martial law since 1981!
In short, the Head of State in Egypt rules through the power of the military.
So what actually happened in Egypt?
Essentially, the head of the military resigned and was replaced by the person who was #2 in the military and who is now the defacto head of the military – and Head of State.
So the bottom line is that right now Egypt hasn’t had any kind of change in it’s government at all. Last week the country was under the power of the military, and this week it still is. The only thing that has changed is the guy who was in charge of that military.
Of course, that’s not to say that major changes won’t happen. It is yet to be seen if the next president to be elected will continue enforcing martial law. With any luck, the people of Egypt will be able to conduct free and fair elections that lead to a decisive change in the way it’s government conducts the business of running the country.
But make no mistake – right now the changes that have occured in the government of Egypt are entirely symbolic. There has been no revolution, the government has not been over-thrown.
All that has happened is the head of the government has been replaced.