On January 27, Egyptian President Morsi imposed emergency rule on Egypt, 2 years and 2 days after the launch of the 2011 revolution against President Mubarak for doing just the same thing. The column I wrote in the throes of that revolution looks unfortunately only too accurate about events to come.
If Egypt can move toward democracy while excluding from power the anti-democratic Islamic movements; if Egyptian defense and security services continue to co-operate with the United States; if Egypt honors the peace treaty with Israel; if Egypt protects and respects its Christian religious minority — then this revolution will truly be a liberation. But if an authoritarian government has given way to instability; if successor governments try to appease Islamism by breaking with the United States and persecuting Christians; if they connive with Hamas and abrogate the peace with Israel — then this revolution will show itself one of the great disasters in the history of the Middle East.
The most likely course is also the most depressing: Egypt opens a little, then closes again. The regime tries to buy popularity by bloating the state sector. It emits nationalist noises against the United States and Israel, downgrading co-operation with former partners. Its foreign policy pivots away from the West and toward Turkey and Iran. In this scenario, Egypt’s future would resemble its Nasserist past: exploiting nationalism to justify authoritarianism. The new dawn will yield to the old twilight.