Around the world, people are enthusiastically greeting the “Egyptian Revolution” — the astonishing victory won by the historic 18-day People Power Uprising. As events move more rapidly than anyone can anticipate, not only has Mubarak been deposed, his corrupt parliament has been dismissed and new elections promised within six months. People’s ecstasy in the aftermath of these great victories belies the fact that Mubarak’s authoritarian system remains intact –nay, strengthened–by the ascension of Suleiman and the military to supreme power in Cairo. While the world hails the Egyptian “revolution,” a more sober assessment of recent events would question the accuracy of that label, at least for now.
If we look at other countries for comparison (and there are many recent examples of People Power Uprisings suddenly ending the reign of longstanding authoritarian regimes), I am especially struck by parallels with Korea’s 1987 June Uprising, when for 19 consecutive days, hundreds of thousands of people illegally went into the streets and battled tens of thousands of riot police to a standstill. On June 29, the military dictatorship finally capitulated to the opposition’s demands to hold direct presidential elections, thereby ending 26 years of military rule.