Reuters/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany
Where were you on Jan. 25 two years ago? If you’re Egyptian, you or somebody you know was probably among the many thousands who descended on Cairo's Tahrir Square to begin what became one of the most monumental political overthrows in the world.
The Egyptians were second in a line of Middle Eastern-North African peoples to attempt to sieze power for themselves during the so-called Arab Spring.
The Egyptian Revolution of 2011 resolved itself relatively quickly, but not exactly bloodlessly.
President Hosni Mubarak, the dictator in the Land of Pharoahs, had been in power almost 30 years when about 2 million of his constituents started screaming for him to step down. During the two weeks of protests in Tahrir Square and elsewhere around Egypt, roughly 850 people were killed, 6,500 were wounded, and 12,000 were arrested.
(Another 10 died and hundreds more were injured in the protests that re-rocked the country last November in response to a power grab by Mubarak's successor, President Mohammed Morsi.)
The situation is still far from perfect. The Morsi-allied Muslim Brotherhood appears invincible, and existing opposition parties have neither enough organization nor loud enough voices to effectively speak up.
Experts say mass protests are likely to remain a staple of the Egyptian political process for some time: The fragmented state of the opposition was exacerbated last November when it failed to form a truly effective coalition against the Islamist-dominated Egyptian Assembly, led by the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm. Until the opposition is able to coalesce around an articulated message, street demonstrations will probably remain the strategy of choice.
In addition, Egypt’s economy is still hurting from the protests. The country's foreign reserves could be depleted in two to three months without replenishment, and the Egyptian pound is at its lowest point ever against the U.S. dollar. The nation's economy's main tentpole, tourism, has yet to recover, and Egypt is now trying to pull in loans from any willing lenders. So far, these have included the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood did score major points on the world stage at the end of November when they successfully brokered a cease-fire between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli government after eight days of missiles being traded between the two combatants. Morsi won accolades from United Nations diplomats and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for “assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country [Egypt] a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.”
In many ways, a new, democratic Egypt is still being born. Meanwhile, here’s a look at where the old regime's leaders, and their detractors, stand today.