Egyptians from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and religions are back on the streets protesting in a manner that is capturing international attention.
Almost a year ago, Egyptians took the streets and, in a surprising and inspiring manner, overthrew Mr. Hosni Mubarak who had presided over them for thirty years. In the process, they dismantled many institutions and a governance system whose primary purpose had gone from serving the nation to prolonging a tired and increasingly ineffective regime.
Empowered by a new-found ability to better control their destiny, Egyptians turned to the one trusted institution -- that of the armed forces, led by a "Supreme Council." Across the nation, this institution was deemed both credible and critical for guiding the country's delicate transition from a de facto dictatorship to a democracy.
Work began on the formation of political parties, the drafting of a constitution, and the holding of free and fair elections for parliament and the presidency. Expectations were high, not only politically but also on the socio-economic front. After all, this was a revolution correctly driven by a thirst for social justice; and it was also about establishing an economy that, through the creation over time of millions of jobs and the better provision of basic social services (education, health, etc...), would serve the general good rather than enrich a privileged and pampered elite.
It was not going to be easy or immediate. After all, it takes time to build a better future, to anchor robust political and legal institutions, and to compensate for years of neglect and distortions. It also takes time to restore an economy whose fragile structure was further weakened by the inevitable short-term dislocations of regime change. And Egyptians were likely to react badly to indications, real or perceived, of undue delay and dithering.
More fundamentally, revolutions are processes rather than discrete events. They start, rather than finish, with the overthrow of a regime. They are rarely smooth or linear, and they often require midcourse corrections.
Fearing that their revolution risked stalling, Egyptians have again taken to the streets, this time for a midcourse correction. Whether it is in Cairo's Tahrir Square or elsewhere, they are asking the Supreme Council to complete the transition more quickly.
Especially in view of its central position in the Middle East and North Africa, all of us have an interest in seeing Egypt's revolution succeed in establishing a durable democracy with a healthy economy, strong institutions and a deep respect for civil liberties and human rights. The country's wellbeing is key to the stability of a region that has a huge influence on the health of an already-challenged and hobbling global economy.
A year ago, Egyptians succeeded in removing a seemingly-entrenched regime in a largely peaceful fashion. Today, they are pushing to secure a democratic process for selecting their future leaders and for ensuring greater social justice and economic benefits. This is a nation whose citizens, through their brave and inspiring actions, now feel deeply empowered to control their own destiny. They will not settle for half a revolution. Neither should anyone else.