More than 10 million people in Egypt mobilized against a clumsy autocrat. Yet, their mobilization ultimately led to a military-judiciary seizure of power, with the support of centrist politicians and clerics. Call this what you like: coup d’état, elegant coup, or people’s power. None of these labels change the nature of the intervention and its aftermath: popularly supported military rule, by more or less the same military-police-judicial-business elements who were in power during Mubarak’s reign and who had struck a (shaky and incomplete) coalition deal with the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Tunisian and Egyptian revolts of the recent years sparked the imagination of many activists around the globe as “leaderless revolution”s. Yet, the strange amalgam of revolution, restoration, coup, democratization, and authoritarianism that persisted throughout the Egyptian process hints that different lessons need to be drawn from the Egyptian situation.