1. The Changing role of Youth
Tracking the history shows a prominent role of youth in changing the Egyptian political life, youth, especially university students, were very active participants in politics, they were aware of the changes in the international political dogmas; universities were the place for political participation and representation of diversified ideologies. Furthermore, there existed several active political parties that had a real role in the political life. It wasn\’t until 1979 Regulations on students\’ activity were students\’ participation started to fade. Since then till few years before the revolution, statistics show continuous decline in the political participation of the Egyptian youth either inside the university or outside it.
Since 2000, responding to the regional changes, the Egyptian youth were brought back to the political life, yet their participation took the form of responses to the external events only. Al-Aqsa uprising that erupted in the fall of 2000 followed by the occupation of Iraq in the spring of 2003 played an important role in the politicization of new youth generation, where many of those involved in the solidarity with the Palestinian people activities and opposing the US war on Iraq were mainly from youth and university students. Movements such as the “Popular Committee for Supporting the Intifada,” “Egyptian Popular Campaign to confront the aggression on Iraq and Palestine,” and ” March 20 movement” had important role in shaping the minds of a new generation of activists without previous political experience, besides, such movements unified the activities of the youth from the different preexisting political orientations to work under the same umbrella, which in turn brought more youth intact.
The international most influential super powers were also promoting the change; after September 11, The United States and The European Union showed more interest in promoting democracy in the Arab region, this gave them access to interfere in the internal conditions. They started putting pressure on the Arab governments to adopt political reforms and to expand the margins of political and civil liberties. Several initiatives were announced, most notably the “Greater Middle East Initiative” issued by the Group of Eight in June 2004. Both regional and international environments were paving the way to expand the margin of freedom and to reduce the government\’s repression.
2. The Emergence of Youth Protest Movements
By the year 2004 new political activities appeared at the horizon, not only through the expanding role of the NGOs but also through the formation of social movements and new parties such as “Kefaya Movement” , “The Popular Campaign”, “The National Front for Change,” and “El Ghad political party” all were calling for political and constitutional comprehensive reforms. These newly formed groups started unifying their activities and working on similar agendas, for instance, about 30 thousand people signed the “Kefaya Movement” statement, which was considered a first in engaging civilians in the political actions, later in September 2004 the official political parties formed an alliance announcing an initiative for political and democratic reform. Concurrently the private media increased its activity either through the private stations, independent press or the internet bloggers, the opposition widespread and got out of the government\’s control and political activism spread across the country, the following exposes the role of the most influential movements;
Political activism came to the surface in late 2004, with the foundation of “Kefaya- in English enough” the informal moniker of the “Egyptian Movement for Change”, a grassroots coalition which prior to 2011 revolution drew its support from across Egypt’s political spectrum. Kefaya formed the first platform to spot the defects in Mubarak’s presidency and warned from transferring the power directly to Mubarak\’s son, the movement aimed at spreading awareness among the masses by shedding light on the political corruption, stagnation, the blurring of the lines between power and wealth, the regime\’s cruelty, coercion and disregard for human rights.
From the onset, “Kefaya” was not a political party neither in its aim nor structure. Rather, it referred to itself as a “movement” and that is credited to its initial success. The movement used simple slogans and innovative strategies to create a body that all other parties rallied around. In choosing their name they used a simple word “enough” to convey the masses frustration, their message was clear and at the likes of the political activists from different social and political backgrounds, in the same time it was easily comprehended by the masses; their peaceful, creative tactics were the main quality that attracted the people in a region ravaged by extremism, they were the first to use the new media to spread their message to the youth, as explained in details in Chapter 5, hence they succeeded not only in gaining the public sympathy but also in convincing the masses to participate.
In 12th December 2004 they organized a stand outside the attorney general’s office. Despite the few participants, the stand gained a lot of recognition and international media coverage. The protesters from different age groups carried banners that had slogans such as, “No to power Inheritance,” “Down with Hosni Mubarak” and “The Egyptian Movement for Change…Kefaya”. It was the first time since the 1970s that Egyptians had raised banners demanding the resignation of a president. Kefaya was a real inspiration for change, its main contribution was in encouraging the people, especially youth, to participate in the political life; they drew their attention to the different channels that they can use to express their opinions and demands. They showed a different unique type of opposition that dared to boldly oppose the government. They were the spark that ignited the change; following their steps since 2005 several youth movements started their political activism, most of them faded years before the revolution, yet they had a big influence in empowering the youth and involving them in the political arena. Among these the “Youth for Change movement” which was the youth arm of “Kefaya” they were able to attract youth from different parties across the country. This movement was successful in recruiting new segment of youth because their speech was so simple using slang language; they spread their message with the direct contact with people through initiating open dialogues with them, furthermore, they secretly planned for their protests at the least expected areas.
After 2005 elections the social movements declined, the factional and grassroots demands raised, accordingly, came to existence “Tadamon movement”- Solidarity- to support labor activism and the other forms of grassroots mobilization that prevailed at that time. “Tadamon movement” is nothing but a rebirth of the “Youth for Change movement” with slight changes responding to the new social and political situation, yet with the same founders and followers. The main contribution of Tadamon was their trials to bridge the gap between the social and political demands, also they were keen on drifting away from the elite speech, they tried to intersperse their message to the widest sector of the masses, This indicates beginning of the change from targeting the elites to focus on the masses. The youth believed in their ability to change; they comprehend the needs of their society, reflected its demands and involved the masses in the protest act.
The youth took their actions a step forward in the year 2009; the fear of power heredity to Gamal Mubarak led them to raise some alternatives, such as Amr Mousa, ElBaradie and Ahmed Zoweil. In 2010 as a group of young activists “The popular movement supporting ElBaradie” started a campaign to support the candidacy of Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei for presidency; it succeeded in attracting large number of supporters. The campaign also organized several events in Cairo and other governorates in order to support ElBaradei and collected signatures on a statement of change issued by the” National Association for Change”, which included activists from most of the political currents. The main contribution for this movement was in preparing many of the revolutions\’ events, also it was a platform for the different youth to work together; most of these youth later formed the ” the coalition of revolution youth “. The movement also cooperated with other youth movements as “March 10 movement” and “Ayez Haky- I want my right”.
b. April the 6
Thanks to “Kefaya” who introduced the use of internet as a platform for political activism emerged April 6, a body of educated youth from the middle class, most of them were either students or young professionals, their ages range between 20s and 30s, they wanted to bring change to the country, not only change in figures, but a comprehensive regime change. It was founded in spring 2008 as a Facebook group expressing solidarity with protesting industrial workers in Al-Mahalla Al-Kubra, they called for a strike, they randomly sent mass messages calling the people to join them, the protests escalated to calls for a national strike, and responding to their call, thousands of Egyptians flooded the streets. They were met with violent repression by police forces, resulting in four deaths and 400 arrests.
Later they formed an official movement, bringing their internet followers to the real action, and for the next two years, members studied the nonviolent tactics of Serbian and Ukrainian youth movements as well as methods for evading government surveillance and harassment. The movement had a noticeable effect among the internet groups and bloggers; they used it as their main mobilization tool and proved unprecedented success. They spread the opposition culture, adopted non-violent resistance approach, they utilized peaceful and humor tactics using the media, internet and mobile phones as their main tools. Their distinctive character was the insistence on keeping a body of youth only; they didn\’t allow any manipulations from the older generation. In 2009 and 2010 they attempted to replicate 2008 strike, but the regime was able to obstruct most of their activities.
Finally, triggered by the death of Khaled Saied and galvanized by the success of the Tunisian revolution, April 6 Youth Movement leaders announced a day of action: January 25, 2011. The people responded in relatively small numbers due to the fear of the system and uncertainty of success, yet April 6 kept on mobilizing the people, through their consistency and creative techniques they were able to increase the number of participants and bring the revolution to success. The following days witnessed increased demonstrations, marches and occupations of the main squares. Millions of protesters from a range of socio-economic and religious backgrounds demanded the overthrow of the President. The security forces violent reactions resulted in at least 846 people killed and over 6,000 injured which increased the mobilization. Protesters burned over 90 police stations, chaos and looting spread everywhere, with the increasing security violence protestors were increasing in thousands and the revolution went beyond the capital to spread across the country.
Compared to the cases of the Colored Revolutions, April 6 is a mere replication to Otpor, Kmara, Pora and Kelkel, they used the same tactics, tools, strategies, logos, even the chronology of the revolution is the same with slight differences in the use of violence. The protesters were calling for well-defined demands, with common slogans and chants, Despite the diversified grievances they were able to limit them to the following; first and foremost to end Mubarak\’s regime and the emergency law as well, to secure the basic needs, freedom and equality. April 6 movement was spreading these slogans and convincing the people to call for these demands. The government responded in different ways to control, contain or even fail the protests but it was in vain; the youth were so eager to change and were pushing the people to increase the numbers, the president delivered some emotional speeches targeting the youth and declaring that he won\’t rerun for presidency. The ruling party mobilized people to join counter protests; the police was getting more and more violent, chaos and riots spread everywhere to the extent that Cairo was described as “a war zone”.
Being aware of the previous models, the protests were strong and the organizers were confident about the masses power they even defied the curfew imposed by the government. The protests lasted for 18 days during which in an attempt to quell the masses Mubarak dissolved the government and appointed Omar Soliman, the head of the intelligence, as a vice president and ordered the minister of aviation and former chief of Egypt\’s air force Ahmed Shafik to form a new government. The international reaction varied widely between supporting the protestors and worrying about the future of the region, in the same time the protests reached its peak, the opposition united and agreed that ElBaradie represents them as negotiator for a transitional unity government. On 11 February 2011 Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that Mubarak would resign as president, turning power over to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
April 6 movement was so influential during the 18 days, the once little-regarded students’ movement became a force that helped to topple the autocratic regime, it is evident that these did not wake up one day and decide to walk into the streets in protest. On the contrary, they were trained throughout the years on how to carry out a revolution using non-violent means. This is because they had a highly organized structure, composed of specialized committees among them the “Emergency committee” which provides legal assistance for any member in need. A “Media committee” responsible for the publications of the movement and dealing with the different media channels, April 6 gave due care to this committee as they believed in the role of media to spread their message internally and externally. Emphasizing on the importance of the international influence they had a committee for the member living abroad, its main target was to maintain constant communication between the movement inside Egypt and those outside it. They had an influential role in spreading information about the movement, the violations and hurdles they face during the protests and updating the world about the progress as well. They ensured unifying their efforts and activities to appropriately present it to the world to gain support. Furthermore, they had a “educational committee” its main responsibility was to put the political and philosophical theories that revolve around culture change in a simple way and to educate the masses about it, their target was to spread the awareness about the previous successful models, theirs strategies, tactics, tools, lessons and how to copy them.
As mentioned previously, such structure and organization endorses that the organization got trained on these actions. The following shows the different trainings that the Egyptian activists acquired to be able to carry the revolution.
II. Training of activists
The chronology of the Colored Revolutions and the Egyptian one proves the diffusion hypothesis; starting with the youth, the main fuel in all these revolutions, they were using the same tactics and strategies, this indicates that they share similar ideology or were trained on using common tools. Given the human, cultural, contextual, political and geographic differences it is illogic to have all the movements using similar strategies and sequence of events unless they got trained on that or at least were ideologically manipulated to do so. One argument could relate that to the globalization effect, which is not negated, contrariwise, globalization made the training much easier.
In analyzing any of the modern peaceful revolutions there are two significant factors affecting the youth; Gene Sharp and CANVAS, the former is the founder of Albert Einstein Institution , also he is the author of “The Politics of Nonviolent Action” and “Three-Volume Classic on Civil Disobedience” were he proposed a pragmatic political analysis of nonviolent action as a method for applying power in any conflict, his writings were very influential on the modern peaceful revolutions in general and on the youth in particular. Gene Sharp is said to have high influence on the Egyptian Revolution, many of the activists and bloggers translated his writing into Arabic and spread it among the youth. He focused on the use of peaceful resistance techniques which were widely accepted and utilized by protestors. Furthermore, the youth were working on “attacking the weaknesses of dictators” , for instance, Ahmed Maher a leader of April 6 mentioned how influential was the documentary “How to Start a Revolution” arguing that “Gene Sharp\’s books had a huge impact among other influences”. Several reports stated that Sharp\’s writings have been used by the Egyptian activists, especially those in El Baradie campaign, moreover, the Muslim Brotherhood posted Sharp\’s book “From Dictatorship to Democracy” on their website during the revolution. Several agencies and institutions accused Gene Sharp of being a U.S. tool manipulating youth on other countries to revolt against their governments. Although many scholars and activists denied such accusation yet it\’s evident that Gene Sharp\’s writings on peaceful resistance and revolution techniques proved to be very influential in different parts of the world. The following discusses how the Egyptian youth were influenced by their counterparts in the colored revolutions countries, the impact of different training channels and external influences as well.
1. The Impact of Colored Revolutions
The main training channel for the Egyptian youth was the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) it was founded and is still managed by members of Otpor. Since the burst and diffusion of the Serbian revolution Otpor leaders received global recognition for their successful revolutionary tactics, the youth in neighboring countries followed their footsteps in toppling down their regimes. The founders of Otpor, set up this training facility to train youth members in other countries by exporting their model and techniques, youth activists from different countries contacted Otpors\’ leaders to copy them, the leaders started to travel and arrange secret meetings with student unions to train them. CANVAS found some hurdles in exporting their model to some countries, Belarus for instance; however, it worked with the following cases as Kmara, Pora, Kelkel and in Egypt too. In fact, these revolutions ran along similar scripts, used almost the same symbols, and had the same quality of non- violent resistance.
Definitely, the revolution didn\’t erupt suddenly in one day or after the calls of April 6 movement, the frequent workers’ strikes and grass root movements that occurred since 2005 signaled the birth of a revolution; several evidences show the preparations and trainings to carry a successful revolution. When it comes to the activists training, various organizations pertinent interests in democratic promotion trained and funded the youth groups in Egypt. CANVAS is the most prominent among these organizations; the techniques applied by youth were just a copy of Otpors\’. CANVAS leader, Srdja Popovic, admitted in an interview that his organization trained the members of April 6 Movement. According to Popovic, they taught the activists that non-violence is a more powerful weapon compared to violence and trained them on using peaceful resistance tools as violence will only cause bloodshed and armed resistance from the government. Popovic also revealed that part of their training entails teaching activists how to infiltrate the police office with their ideologies with the goal of influencing the police to believe that they were also victims of the regime. After all, the goal of non-violent revolutions is not to take power violently but to allow power to change hands to their side.
In Egypt the training process wasn\’t that easy, they faced some troubles on different levels, as for the activists, the lack of proper communication, unaccepting the differences, the inability to unite the different opposition parties and students, the fear and mistrust between the activists, it was all about the passivity, fatalism, and fear of their own citizens additionally the movement\’s development played a role; the more developed the movement the easier to steer the gear and on a broader level the situation in Egypt forced them to work clandestinely and in disguise, the previous democratic practices weren\’t supporting the change, the levels of freedoms and increasing repression threatened the activists, affected the training and the probability of the protests success. CANVAS curriculum was the same, yet the methodology change according to the masses response, in the Egyptian case, Djinovic said, “activists sometimes argued that the strategies wouldn’t work in the Islamic world, yet the same training proved success in Lebanon and the Maldives, both predominantly Muslim countries”.
CANVAS taught the Egyptian youth certain tactics that could thrive their movement; such tactics were all based on the soft peaceful tools that require minimum degree of media freedom, without it their success will be at risk. A book titled “how to protest intelligently” including tactics and strategies of peaceful protests was circulated among the masses as shown in annex (1) . These ideas were mainly driven from the documentary “A Force More Powerful”. The training included planning for these actions; the trainees listed their own creative tools that are feasible to the society. CANVAS tools usually include using leaflets, banners, sit-ins, boycotts, picketing and music, however, the Egyptian youth complained that the nature of the Islamic society won\’t accept some of these tools; hence they picked what copes with the nature of the society.
The youth of April 6 followed CANVAS training and benefited from their reputation as their followers, using the same techniques they were able to gain international recognition. Since their beginning they worked on unifying the opposition and attracting youth from different currents. They also trained the Egyptian youth on how to choose the right moment to start the revolution; if the movement is not packed with the opposition the protests won\’t be successful. Although the peaceful resistance mainly relies on the mass mobilization, it should come to action when it is backed with societal support to face the government\’s aggression, or else the turnout will be poor and the movement could lose its credibility.
Sharp\’s ideas and CANVAS training both stated that the power of the government lays in the masses obedience, the main aim of a social movement is to stop this obedience, to deprive the government from its power, Sharp argued “….. a government is like a building held up by pillars” , the movement should pull the dominant pillars to the opposition camp; for this to be successful it has to be very peaceful and to use the tools they trained them on so as to prevent any governmental control or repression to their actions, the training included drawing a power chart encompassing these pillars in each society and working on dismantling it.
In the Egyptian case these pillars were the people, the police and the military. Starting with the people, a wide sector of the society was marginalized which increased the anger, the middle and lower classes were suffering from increasing prices, deteriorating economic and social conditions; it was easy to manipulate them however they suffered high degree of apathy. The actual doers in the revolution were the youth from the middle and upper class, those who were aware of the previous successful models and were open to the international society, they had access to the social media, they were connected to bloggers and youth groups, they shared with the activists the same virtual public sphere. This pillar was easy to manipulate, they were the first and the most responsive category of participants, in the same time the most influential one.
The second pillar was the police; the scenario was different from the Serbian one, the Egyptian police was so repressive, used a lot of violence and torture, they weren\’t applying the law on the contrary they were misusing it, especially the emergency law. Based on the training, the organizers paid due attention to the past experiences with strikes and demonstrations and devised new tactics in dealing with the police, they were keen on encouraging the protesters neither to initiate any violence against the police forces nor to respond to their actions violently. With the spread of the calls for mass demonstrations on January 25, the Ministry of Interior placed its antiriot forces on full alert forty-eight hours prior to that day, it also deployed all its forces to control and decisively crack down on the demonstrations, leaving no back-ups available. Aware of this tactical error, the protesters managed to keep the antiriot police engaged and deployed for relatively long periods of time, Demonstrators started from mosques and side streets in poor neighborhoods, they tried to stay peaceful yet the public anger ended up with some violent actions against the police forces took the form of burning the most violent police stations and torturing the policemen. Eventually due to the increased discontent from the youth weren\’t able to manipulate this pillar they wearied them till they withdrew from the streets.
The last pillar is the military; their role came to surface after the third day of the revolution when the police forces retreated from the streets the military interfered to control the situation. Protestors showed them great convivial, this prevented any use of violence. The public had confidence in the military due to the history of the military institution and the obligatory military service which make every family have a solider in it. Furthermore, the military institution showed a lot of signs rejecting power heredity and they kept on declaring that the military\’s credence is to the country not the power. Following the teachings of CANVAS, April 6 tried to manipulate the military, they insisted on using peaceful tools, people started taking photos with the soldiers and the tanks, some of them were sleeping under the tanks\’ wheels to show trust in the military and to prevent them from getting inside Tahrir square. This pillar was the most important to the path of the revolution; the protestors and the nature of the institution were in favor of the revolution. The military protected the square and they had their share in toppling down the regime.
The evidence on the training wasn\’t only obvious in the techniques and strategies, other evidence was in an interview conducted by Al-Jazeera News with Mohammed Adel a member of April 6 and a famous blogger who admitted that he was in Serbia where he learnt how to conduct peaceful protests and how to handle possible violence from the security forces. Adel documented his training and compiled it into a guide, whom he distributed to members of both “Kefaya” and “April 6” movements, furthermore, he brought Arabic subtitled copies of “Bringing down a Dictator” and continued to download similar books. The connection continued between the Egyptian youth and the Serbs, they kept on emailing and getting consultation from their mentors, although Adel never returned to Belgrade again yet he provided mini replications of CANVAS workshop to the Egyptian youth stressing on unity, nonviolent discipline, the importance of having clear goals and how to keep the members engaged.
As soon as the protests started getting recognition and massive mobilization the youth got more confident and started circulating an anonymously authored pamphlet titled “How to Protest Intelligently” , it was sort of the revolution\’s manual including the main protests\’ goals and action plan. The guidelines comprised CANVAS workshop ideas and the action plan was similar to Otpor\’s, it emphasized on nonviolence and commiserating the police.
The Egyptian model proves that the youth were aware of the previous models, their tactics and strategies; April 6 movement knew about Otpor and embraced the fist as its logo even before Mohamed Adel went to Belgrade. The Serbs kept supporting the situation in Egypt, they were proud of the Egyptian youth and training them, during the revolution Serbian newspapers published that the same fist, referring to April 6\’s logo, that brought down Milosevic is toppling down Mubarak. They kept on monitoring the revolution\’s progress and mentioned that April 6 were applying the training properly. The power charts Adel listed in his training was really representing the real situation, they managed to involve all the society and they were able to pull the most important pillars. The protestors were following the guidelines of a successful revolution, they were so cooperative, peaceful and tolerant, they provided a new role model to the Middle East region.
2. Democracy Promotion Policies
Just like all the other nations that witnessed uprisings the training was done in the guise of development, especially the social development. This was meant to allay any doubts or suspicion from the ruling elite. Moreover, they used public meeting places as opposed to secret training centers, therefore, the government had no reason to suspect what was going on.
The main bodies that provided such support and trainings were the human rights activists who enjoyed the advantage of the trainings that were offered by international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Such trainings included cyber activism and political protests which were offered in the United States and European countries. They were highly involved in either financing or training the activists through different bodies such as Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy Institute who participated in training the youth in Egypt and other countries that experienced revolutions, among the efforts to foster democracy in the region were the fund channeled through these organizations to campaign for democracy. Egyptian Youth went to the United States to equip them with knowledge that would help them in applying democracy in their country. U.S. veteran activists put thousands of hours into training activists on strategies of mobilizing and organizing crowds. Other training sessions on mobilization and reactionary tactics took place not just in the U.S but also in other countries around the world. The youth activists were trained on isolating politics from their protests and to instead focus on the social needs and human rights prominence. Despite the geographical differences, all the countries that experienced uprisings had similar agendas. All the activists centered their protests on the need for social reconstruction. Although the protestors were affiliated to political parties, especially the opposition, most of the youth movements fought for human rights such as poverty reduction and elimination of corruption rather than political causes.
One of the important training realms was offered to activists is the use of technology. In 2008, some Egyptian youth went in a fellowship program to the United States where they were trained on how to use technology in the process of enforcing a revolution; the training included the use of social media, text messages, and blogs. American companies such as Google and Facebook collaborated with the State Department and the Columbia School of Law to offer technology training to the activists. The main sponsors for this training were the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Freedom House; also there were several State Departments that were highly involved in the training of youths from Egypt. According to Bassem Fathy, one of the Egyptian activists involved in the training, it helped them in organizing and building coalitions using technologies such as Facebook and Blogs, these platforms were protected by the United States to avoid any manipulation by the state. On the other hand, the youth were trained on how to take advantage of government lapses and corruption cases in order to publicize issues and win more followers. Such use of technology was common in the Ukrainian Revolution, the youth used technology to mobilize the masses and the process was very successful, the same technique were adopted by those organizing the Egyptian revolt; the use of technology was instrumental in the call for the protests.
The training process was also done under a lot of intelligence in order to avoid suspicion from the government. Evidently, the Egyptian government was skeptical about foreign influence on local politics. Given its blind eye, the foreign NGO’s were able to train the activists in the guise of development. The same tactic had been used in Georgia where organizers either exported activists or trained them from within Georgia. Apart from coding the training, the activists were trained in small cells. This form of training shielded the activists from any external interference from the government and other sympathizers. Mostly, the organizers of training sessions opted to meet the youth in conspicuous places such as stadiums and public places in order to remain innocuous. The training also equipped the activists with skills on political marketing, media relations, mobilization and recruiting skills. This knowledge would help the activists to propel the change process across Egypt. As shown in the next two chapters; Mobilization and recruiting helped the activists to gather enough protestors who would partake the marches against the regime. Also the media played an important role in the Egyptian revolution, April 6 established a cordial relationship with independent media. Paired with the use of technology, these skills helped to bring the revolution to success.
Whilst the protesters called for toppling down Mubarak\’s regime, the international responses varied, some were supporting the democratization process while others were showing concerns about creating a power vacuum in such a strategic country which could affect the whole region.
The protesters exerted a lot of effort in broadcasting their revolution and its progress, they succeeded in capturing the world\’s recognition. April 6 youth have worked together with other activists, international bodies and nations to gain international support, they used the media, and especially the social media, to announce their takes on the revolution.; they drew the attention of the international bodies and interested nations, such support articulated in receiving consultation and funds from these bodies, this had its influence on the strength and destiny of the revolution.
George Soros Foundation was among the bodies that supported the youth in Egypt, the foundation partnered up with CANVAS and together they took part in organizing and implementing April 6 trainings, they also supported them in planning and funding the revolution, The George Soros open society institute was famous for its work with USAID in supporting the campaigns in Egypt during the revolutions. They were known not only to back April 6 but also their protests and activists.
The Egyptian youth got support not only from the international organizations, but also from countries. Few countries were involved in supporting the movement including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Norway and many others. April 6 has always been linked with external financial support from abroad and accusations of plotting revolutions against the country. They received this international support due to the fact that other nations were interested in helping Egypt to achieve social and political change.
Starting with the United States, although they always supported Mubarak\’s regime, since 2008 they started supporting the regime change, this was done through backing the opposition, emphasizing on the need for a new parliamentary democracy. The United States secretly supported, and more of controlled, the opposition, it manipulated the opposition to support an unwritten plan for a change to a new order before the September 2011 presidential election. Throughout 2008-2009, The United States was seen to have contacts with the opposition with the plan for change even though it did not have the same plans as the protesters. Since then Obama\’s administrations aimed at restoring political reforms without interfering with the stability of the region, yet with regards Egypt\’s turmoil Washington supported the change.
The United Kingdom also supported the change, it was on the frontline fighting for the rights of the human rights activists and founders of April 6. The UK has offered its support to the movement by calling on the interim leaders of the Egyptian government to make sure they maintain the obligations of the international human rights of the Egyptians; this includes the freedom for expression and assembly by the Egyptians and youth movements in their activities that are meant to restore the democracy of the country.
From the international support, the youth learnt that they have to maintain a certain degree of organization since it takes long time to beat or overthrow an entire system. The youth followed the Colored Revolutions models to achieve success. They learnt how to create a cross-ideological, religious, political and social solidarity among the members of the society.
Scrutinizing the factors affecting the youth shows that the regional and external forces had a major effect since the beginning of the youth activism till toppling down the regime. First the regional changes were the reason behind the revival of the Egyptian youth activism as a response to Al-Aqsa Intifada, and the war on Iraq. The second factor is the external powers, there is a direct relation between democratic promotion and youth activism, evidence shows that when the US and EU were in favor of the democratic promotion the youth activism increased and they were able to form a lot of youth social movements, however, on 2005 as the external pressure decreased most of the movements collapsed. The third factor is the domestic policies, responding to the government\’s repression the youth opted to create their own public sphere using the internet which was the main platform for revolution. The last factor is the political culture, an insight in these movements show that they were originated from Kefaya, political activism wasn\’t a common practice till the revolution; youth were politically apathetic. Activists were limited in number; they changed their mission responding to the political and societal changes. One of their main targets was to spread the activism culture in the society, to inform the people about their rights and to motivate them to participate. The youth were able to deal with this efficiently, they approached the masses instead of the elites, they motivated the largest sector of the people not the decision makes, and they enforced the change from down up, they eventually succeeded in creating their own model of success and brought the change to the country.
Based on the Colored Revolutions models and from the previous we can infer that in the modern revolutions, the youth were among the main factors that brought the democratic change to the country. Coupled with this role is the influence of the mass mobilization and collective action, without them the youth couldn\’t have been able to bring the change to the country. Such role will be explained in details in the following chapter.