First, it has not been a victory of the people; it has been a decision of the army. The army has decided Mubarak had to go, and democratic clothes were to be bought, but this does not mean much. They did the same to the king sixty years ago. In fact, historically, the army has always owned Egypt. It would be interesting to trace the lineages of today’s officer corps, and of the high bureaucrats and businessmen who are their associates. I think one would find that most of them are quite old and go back the Mameluks.
Journalists who wish to show how knowledgeable they are repeat that “the army has ruled Egypt for sixty years.” Add a zero, at least. The military Mameluk caste seized the country in the age of the Crusades and never really let it go. The Turks defeated them in 1520, but the Mameluk’s remained in charge beneath the Turks, and when the Turkish grip grew feebler, they came back up, as much masters of Egypt as they had ever been.
Indeed, the social resilience and continuity of army power in Egypt is remarkable, given that their external records is none too imposing. They were defeated by the Turks, by Napoleon in 1798, in the Greek war of Independence (1821-30), by the British in the 1880s, and by Israel several times. Nonetheless they are extraordinarily good at keeping power at home in their own hands.
As for the opposition, everyone has heard of the sinister influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, but has anyone reflected on the equally sinister fact that waves of revolt always follow Friday preaching in the mosques?