For more than six decades Egypt has been ruled by a military dictatorship, most recently led by Hosni Mubarak, a military man whom multiple U.S. administrations have gleefully propped up with billions of dollars in military and economic aid.
Today, more than 16 months after Mubarak was ousted from power in a bloody popular uprising, Egyptians find themselves living under an even more tyrannical and authoritarian military dictatorship.
"The date of the 17th of June is no less important than the 25th of January," Hossam Bahgat, an activist and executive director of the Egyptian Initiative on Personal Rights, wrote on Facebook.
"Our children will learn that this is the date of the end of the theatrics and the transformation into a military dictatorship."
Janauary 25, 2011 marks the day protesters first occupied Tahrir square as they protested against Mubarak. Last Sunday, June 17, 2012, is the day Egypt's military essentially declared absolute power.
Among the many questions that can and should be asked to understand how we've landed here, perhaps the most obvious, is born out of pure frustration, beginning with a low-brow three-letter American acronym: WTF happened to Egypt's revolution?
Egyptians from all walks of life have marched to Tahrir, and across the country, since January, protesting Mubarak's decades-long repressive rule, demanding dignity and the right to self-determination. But it was primarily the youth who mobilized and maintained enough pressure on Mubarak's regime to make these new presidential elections possible.
Still, somehow their youthful zeal is all but missing from Egypt's political landscape. Instead, Egyptians were left with a polarizing and pathetic choice in the recent presidential run-off. They could support the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, who is 60 or the old guard's Ahmed Shafiq, who is 70 and served as Prime Minister during some of the most violent clashes between pro-democracy protesters and government forces.
Many of my young friends in Egypt voted for neither, and instead took the opportunity to voice their grievances by writing on their ballots using insults and vulgarities.
In a country with 70 percent of its population under the age of 30, how can men in their sixties and seventies, let alone a former Prime Minister under Mubarak be expected to lead the younger generations, regardless of their political affiliation?
What is worse is that both men claim to have won the election and the ruling military seem all the more content with the confusion. In fact, rather than trying to move Egypt forward they are perpetuating the chaos.The election committee has refused to offer any results from the presidential run-off until Thursday.
The truth is, if either of the two candidates, Morsi is more deserving of the opportunity to lead. Under Mubarak the Muslim Brotherhood was oppressed and banned from participating in the political process and has seen many of its leaders imprisoned over the years.
Today, the U.S., which funds, arms and trains the Middle East's largest army has threatened it could review billions of dollars of military and civilian aid to Egypt following the military rulers' 'power grab', dissolution of parliament, and stripping the prospective president of legislative and executive power. SCAF's announcements came just as news broke that Israel moved several tanks closer to Egypt's border after a cross-border attack that left one Arab-Israeli dead.
Despite both presidential candidates Morsi and Shafiq's claims of victory, it is clear that the undisputed winner in Egypt this week is the Supreme Council of Armed Forces in what some are calling a "soft coup", but can be more accurately described as a supreme and sobering power grab.
Either way this week marks a regressive and regretful reality for Egyptians and the region.
Last Thursday, the Supreme Court, still dominated by Mubarak-era justices, single-handedly declared the recent parliamentary elections void and dissolved the parliament.
The military then issued an official decree that it would retain the power to control the national budget, appoint senior security figures, and most notably, to convene a 100-member body to draft a new constitution.
SCAF ultimately delegitimized the presidency and entire political process by announcing the president would be temporary, would not have legislative powers and would not be the commander-in-chief of the army.
These moves overturned previous commitments by SCAF, including the important promise to stand aside on July 1 and transfer power to civilian rule. Instead the military guaranteed themselves jobs for lives and warned that no one would discuss their secretive budgetary policies.
These provisions can only be seen as a desperate and eleventh-hour move to maintain control of Egypt's economic and political trajectory and as some have suggested to prevent an Islamist leader from waging war on Israel or potentially amending the existing peace treaties.
But the peace treaty was also violated almost simultaneously, following the cross-border attack from Egypt in which one Arab-Israeli was killed on Monday. Israel deployed two tanks near the Egyptian border violating the Camp David Accords that oblige both Egypt and Israel to keep the area demilitarized.
The attack, which was launched shortly after the Muslim Brotherhood declared victory in Egypt's presidential elections has raised concerns in Israel and the U.S. about the potential for lawlessness to once again consume the two countries longtime strategic partner.
"We can see a disturbing deterioration in Egypt's control of the Sinai's security," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned in response to the attack.
Since the beginning of the revolution SCAF has tried to portray itself as the protector of the Egyptian people and of the revolution. Perhaps they had hoped Egyptians, and the world, would forget or overlook the series of egregious human rights violations, its provoking sectarian divisions and the killing of hundreds and detainment of thousands more.
Though SCAF may have waited many months before beginning this final push against the revolution and reform, the military, like Mubarak, now has no clothes.
SCAF has proven it has no interest in moving forward as it has minimized the crimes of Mubarak, freed two of his sons and many more top officials. Instead, the military has kept in place the same institutions loathed by the people under Mubarak's rule and that sent them into the streets to begin with.
Though the military promised a transition to democracy through a three-stage election process, it has now delegitimized its own proposed process, proving the elections were nothing more than a charade to buy the military enough time to reinforce all the old pillars of Mubarak's regime including the military itself, the banks and the treaties and agreements with Israel and the US.
In the months after Mubarak was ousted, a political, economic and security vacuum took hold that left many who were once hopeful of a post-Mubarak era to lose enthusiasm for the future.
Cynicism about what, if anything, elected officials would be able to achieve allowed SCAF to capitalize on the current lack of optimism.
It is important to note that voter turnout was surprisingly low given the historic nature of these elections. Some estimates put turnout in the presidential run-off as low as 20 percent, revealing the public's disillusionment with the slow political process. This was only exacerbated by SCAF's announcement to dissolve the parliament shortly before polls opened on Sunday.
Still, the people have not given up. Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir square, the epicenter of the country's pro-democracy protests once again chanting "Down with military rule". The crowds saw the opposition's April 6 Youth Movement and the Muslim Brotherhood join in their condemnations of the military, despite their polar-opposite political platforms.
Egypt's infrastructure is failing. Tourism, the pillar of Egypt's economy, is at record lows. Constant threats of currency devaluation have left foreign investors outside Egypt.
Recent reports that security agents have been sent to disperse labor strikes in army-owned factories have largely been missing from the mainstream media's headlines, but only suggest that SCAF does not have the interest of the Egyptian people at heart.
The Obama administration has to put its money where its mouth is. It can warn and threaten Egypt's ruling military, but it's rhetorical condemnations are as ineffective as they are offensive, given that the military has been using American-made tear gas to disperse protests since they first erupted in January 2011.
This disconnect between the State Department's championing of the idea of democracy taking hold in the Arab world and its obstruction of the process through its support of Egypt's oppressive ruling military further tarnishes America's image abroad.
Yes, the ruling military is a crucial regional security partner, and this creates a predicament for the Obama administration, the main financial supporter of the military.
Yes, the military and Obama may both share fears of the Muslim Brotherhood coming to power in the parliament or presidential palace.
But while the military refuses to respect the democratic process and the people's choice following Mubarak's ouster, it would serve America to side with the people, or at the least the process rather than their oppressors.
In March, the Obama administration released $1.3 billion in military aid for Egypt even though the military had failed to live-up to many of its promises citing U.S. national security interests.
Congress has also approved $250 million in economic aid and up to $60 million for an "enterprise fund" for this fiscal year.
But 76 percent of Egyptians do not want to see Obama re-elected according to a recent Pew poll. This, for a man who traveled to Egypt in 2009 to speak at Cairo University as he outlined his personal commitment to engage with the Muslim World based on mutual interests and mutual respect.
Obama must decide if he wants to be associated with this counter-revolution by Egypt's military that robbed the people of their right to participate in the democratic process, or instead, show the people of Egypt the respect he promised in 2009.
Click here to join the conversation about Egypt with me live this afternoon.
Follow Ahmed Shihab-Eldin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ase