Revenge of the Felool: Why Egypt is settling for the remnants of the old regime
It’s hard to be an Egyptian revolutionary these days. You gave your blood and sweat to overthrow Hosni Mubarak last year — but now one year later, some of the most senior officials from the ancien regime are leading the pack to replace him. It’s a trend that appears to only be accelerating: Multiple polls this week showed Ahmed Shafiq and Amr Moussa — Mubarak’s former prime minister and foreign minister, respectively — as leading the pack in the May 23-24 elections.
Shafiq and Moussa have long been dismissed by protesters as felool (“remnants”) — officials fatally compromised by their association with the old regime. The word’s very connotation suggests that they will eventually be swept away in the new order — but judging by their showing in the upcoming elections, rumors of their political demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Shafiq’s pitch to voters is simple: Only he has the experience necessary to restore Egypt to stability and prosperity. “He has material, tangible results. You can feel them, you can see them. He’s not talking what he could have done,” Shafiq spokesman Karim Salem said of the former minister of civil aviation. “When you land in Cairo airport, or any airport in Egypt, you can feel the difference.”
Sure, you might ask, but is it really compelling to tout one’s experience in a regime that was, after all, overthrown by the Egyptian people? To hear Salem tell it, Shafiq’s role was largely bureaucratic. “[Shafiq] was a core professional. He would take whatever assignment, do it, and succeed with it,” he said. “You can’t say from an absolute perspective that everything [under the previous regime] was corrupt, everything was bad — there were good things too.”