Sunday, May 15, 2011

By The End of This Year Egypt Might Be Run By a Radical Islamist Regime

This article--in an earlier version--was my Jerusalem Post column. I own the rights so only link to this site if forwarding or reprinting.

By Barry Rubin

I'm not saying this lightly. For the first time, there is serious evidence not only for an Islamist-controlled parliament but even potentially for an Islamist president! It's Iran all over again except in 1979 Carter didn't publicly demand the shah's overthrow and aksi say he had no problem with Khomeini taking over. In fact, though, that's what Obama did in Egypt.

First the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood said it wouldn't run a candidate for president and would only contest one-third of the parliamentary seats.

Next, it said it wouldn’t run a presidential candidate and contest just 50 percent of the parliamentary seats. Even that is misleading since it could arrange with other Islamist parties not to compete against each other, thus potentially adding 5 to 10 percent more Islamists, that is a majority, to parliament..

Now, the Muslim Brotherhood says it will run a presidential candidate who might even conceivably win the election. Oh, but he will run as an independent. So that doesn’t count?

One reason for this change on the presidential election is that earlier on the Brotherhood was backing Muhammad ElBaradei. But since the two broke up over the referendum regarding the election timing and rules--ElBaradei thought the changes were too favorable to the Brotherhood so they dropped him--they had no one to support. By the way, the Brotherhood won that referendum by a landslide.

Ah, but it's okay because, according to Reuters, Abdel Moneim Abul Futuh, the Brotherhood’s candidate for president is a leading "reformist member" of the Brotherhood's Shura Council, its highest governing body. Right! He wants to reform Egypt into being an Islamist state.

An al-Ahram poll (it's still early, of course, to know how people will vote) shows Amr Moussa and Abul Futuh are tied at 20 percent with ElBaradei at 12 percent.

Note that since a presidential election would come after a strong Brotherhood showing in the parliamentary election, a lot of voters would be likely to want to join what seems to be the winning side. Also note that the Brotherhood candidate will have a strong organization behind him while Moussa won’t even have a party at all and ElBaradei’s forces should be pretty weak and concentrated largely in Cairo.

Then add into the mix that Abul Futuh will also be supported by non-Brotherhood Islamists while ElBaradei is running against three other “moderate democratic” types in competition for that sector of the votes.

The bottom line is that for the first time this week a Brotherhood takeover of Egypt in 2011 is really possible. Let me underline that point: before one could conceive that this might happen. Now there is hard evidence and real reason to believe that it might actually take place.

Up until now, I had thought that Amr Moussa might be Egypt’s next president with a strong Islamist presence in parliament but not a majority or near-majority. But now Moussa himself predicts that the Brotherhood will have, along with its allies, a majority. And even more recently it is possible that a Brotherhood leader will be elected president.

So here are our alternatives:

Best-case scenario: A radical nationalist president, Moussa, and a strong Islamist contingent in parliament that will also have a big influence in writing the new Constitution. Moussa is anti-Israel and anti-American but might be restrained by his pragmatic streak. On the other hand, the need to play demagogue—he won’t have any money to subsidize food more and provide additional jobs—and to keep the Islamists happy or even outbid them—pushes him toward adventurism.

Worst-case scenario: A Brotherhood president and parliament transforming Egypt into an Islamist state, backing Hamas fully, subverting U.S. influence and other Arab states, and potentially playing jihad in a full-scale war with Israel.

Remember that President Barack Obama said that having the Brotherhood in government is okay with him. So I guess he'll just watch the result of his handiwork and cheer on the results of the process he helped set in motion.

A taste of the future was provided by the massive anti-Israel demonstrations in Cairo today.

Supposedly the rally was to protest sectarian violence within Egypt but it turned into one favoring more sectarian violence next door.

The Brotherhood has now escalated its demands to breaking diplomatic relations with Israel and expelling the Israeli ambassador. Remember all of those articles and statements about how the revolution was good for Israel if only those silly Israelis woke up and understand reality as well as people in Washington DC and the Upper West Side of Manhattan?

Oh, and guess how the demonstration was largely organized. Ready? On Facebook! Hahaha. Those youthful hip twittering moderate young people!

We can also look forward to similar demonstrations in Palestine’s capital, after independence takes place, demanding an abrogation of the Israel-Palestine peace treaty and the end to Israeli occupation of…Israel.

After people finally figured out in April-May what they should have known in January-February about Egypt, might be better to learn the lesson now rather than to repeat the same mistakes infinitely?

PS: Love the AP's "evenhanded" explanation of the Right to Return issue:

"The Palestinians have long maintained that the refugees have a moral and legal right to return to what was once Palestine—including land which is now Israel. But Israel has argued that granting the right of return would compromise the country's identity as the world's only Jewish state."

Yes, all those riots and massive terrorism leading to bloody civil war, with all the neighbors joining in, followed by the genocidal murder of millions of Jews and the transformation of Israel into an Arab and possibly (probably?) Islamist state that would ally with Iran, work to overturn all the region's non-radical regimes, trigger additional wars and massive suffering, and destroy U.S. influence in the Middle East would definitely be an inconvenience.

Ah, but it's okay because, according to Reuters, Abdel Moneim Abul Futuh, is a leading "reformist member" of the Brotherhood's Shura Council. Right! He wants to reform Egypt into being an Islamist state.

An al-Ahram poll (it's still early) shows Amr Moussa and Abul Futuh are tied at 20 percent with ElBaradei at 12 percent..

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