Friday, February 18, 2011

Egypt: Qaradawi, World's Leading Islamist Tries to Take Charge of the Revolution

By Barry Rubin

Let history show that neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post reported on the return of the world's single most important Islamic cleric to Cairo to begin what he hopes to be the transformation of Egypt into a revolutionary anti-American state.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi spoke to a giant cheering crowd in Tahrir Square. He praised the army--to ward off it's repression and encourage it to support a thoroughgoing transformation of the country. He preached caution and patience, working with the army.

And he also lavished praise on the pro-Islamist chairman of the committee to write the new Constitution, which may not be a good sign at all.

There is one easily missed word in his speech that is the most significant. That word is "hypocrites." In the Islamist lexicon, hypocrites means Muslims who do not practice "true" Islam according to the radicals. To take Egypt out of the hands of hypocrites is to put it onto the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood--or at least similarly minded people--which, contrary to the best and the brightest policymakers, intelligence analysts, experts, and journalists is not a moderate organization.

History may show that while President Jimmy Carter may have "lost" Iran, one of his successors may have helped give away Egypt. Is that alarmist? I hope so. Watch and see.

As so often happens, Israel will be left to pay the bill. Qaradawi said he looked forward to a similar ceremony in Jerusalem, and he did not mean after a two-state negotiated solution. One of Qaradawi's main points is--sorry, I must say it to show my credibility--precisely as I predicted from the first days of the revolution, the total opening of the Egypt-Gaza border. This would mean an Egypt-Hamas alliance and a huge flow of arms into Gaza.

The army will not let this happen for now. But what might happen after elections?

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