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It's inaccurate to assume that most Egyptians--with the exception of a corrupt minority who have successfully accumulated wealth and power--want to change the status quo.
Change is more complicated than simply softening the regime's iron fist. A strong security apparatus is not the only factor that allows an authoritarian regime to survive. More important is the fact that those who benefit from the regime outnumber those who wish to change it.
The question today is how our current regime, unqualified as it is, has remained in power for so many years, while largely failing to deliver any positive results.
Hosni Mubarak's regime has held power longer than any ruler since Mohamed Ali. While the latter succeeded in building an empire, this regime has failed to inspire its citizens. It did not have a tight grip on security until lately, yet the regime has still managed to stay in power for 30 years.
I believe the secret lies in the regime's successful policy of active restraint: It does not intervene in any social conflict lest it risk offending or placating different parties. The regime has always preferred to let people engage in disputes to the point of exhaustion. In cases where the regime feels threatened, it has intervened tactfully.
The regime has thereby succeeded in creating supporters, who are not necessarily corrupt but who benefit from its presence. Supporters are generally average citizens who are not involved in politics. Their assessment of public and private institutions is based on benefits they derive therefrom, and the possibility of improving their living standards.
The regime has also created an atmosphere of tolerance for corruption, in which corrupt individuals evade punishment while others are unjustly found guilty. Widespread recklessness, negligence and a lack of professionalism are all the results of the actions of this regime. Thus we face not only government corruption but systemic corruption of Egyptian society at large.
The power of this regime actually lies in its very weakness as a government.
Supporters of the regime have outnumbered those who want to change it. While these supporters are not necessarily corrupt, they are complicit in the existing system.
Egypt can and must undergo political change. Those who champion change must know that both the regime and society need to be reformed. And I do mean reform, not revolution, as the latter is an exceptional phenomenon in the history of nations. Existing state institutions must retain their competence, and a new democratic society that values hard work and creativity over riots and demonstrations must arise.
Betting on an undemocratic regime however is not in anyone's long-term favor.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.