Egypt’s Future … and Ours

I suppose I need to say something more about Egypt. Since I last wrote about the situation there, much has changed—not the least the abrupt departure of Hosni Mubarak, just hours after he said he wasn’t going to step down until September. Well, September arrived earlier than expected.

Then there was James Clapper, the Obama administration’s Director of National Intelligence, commenting in a House Intelligence Committee hearing that the Muslim Brotherhood is not necessarily an organization to fear. Here are Clapper’s precise words:

The term “Muslim Brotherhood” … is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam. They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera. … In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally.

What are we to make of such an assessment?

This is the same Muslim Brotherhood that spawned Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah. This is the organization that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and to the setting up of an Islamic caliphate from Spain to Indonesia.

This is a terrorist organization.

For now, the army is in charge of Egypt, and it has been trained by and has ties to the U.S. military. The hope is that it will be able to maintain control and methodically lead the nation into representative government. Of course, the larger problem is that the people of Egypt are not practiced in the art of self-government. Indeed, it can be questioned whether any majority-Muslim nation can handle a legitimately representative form of government, given the Muslim mentality. Some say it has worked in Turkey, but there are signs it is breaking down there. We have tried to install workable government in Iraq; the result is still uncertain.

What of Egypt? Why should it be any different? I fear it won’t be, and if the attempt fails, the Muslim Brotherhood is waiting to pick up the pieces. In fact, it already has received the proverbial “place at the table.”

The next few weeks and months will be critical, not only for Egypt, not only for Israel and the entire Middle East, but critical for the United States as well.

No Place at the Table

In a speech last night, Hosni Mubarak said he would not run again for president of Egypt in the next election, slated for September. That’s hardly going to satisfy the protesters. In the words of almost every commentator I’ve read, it’s “too little, too late.” The protesters will settle for nothing but a total capitulation and a new government run by those who didn’t work with Mubarak.

But who will those people be?

As I noted two days ago, a radical organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, wants to take advantage of this crisis to propel itself to the top. If that happens, it will not be an improvement. The Brotherhood is the umbrella group for all the terrorist movements in the Middle East, from Hezbollah in Lebanon to Hamas in the Palestinian territories. The Brotherhood has called for all-out war against Israel and seeks to kill every last Jew, if possible.

Is this really who we want in charge of Egypt?

Mubarak is no prize, but change for change’s sake is not true reform. A couple of political cartoonists have captured the point perfectly:

Careful—we might get snakebit.

In the midst of this chaos and possible takeover by Muslim extremists, what should America’s stance be? I realize we don’t have control over the situation; no president can dictate what will happen. Yet shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from taking power? One would hope so, but President Obama seems to be “making nice” with the terrorists. As reported on the Hot Air blog:

Welcome to the new reality of cold, hard choices in Egypt, and the consequences of democracy in regions where radicalism thrives.  In order to stay ahead of the crisis in Egypt, the Obama administration yesterday signaled that it supports the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egyptian politics as long as they renounce violence and commit to democracy.

Oh, well then, that shouldn’t be too hard. Surely we can expect them to do us that tiny little favor, right? For some reason, the Obama adminstration believes that allowing them a place at the table in the Egyptian government will make them into peaceful, loving, small-d democrats.

As a historian, I remember another instance when a nation thought that would happen. It was Germany in 1933. The majority party concluded that by allowing Hitler into the inner circles of power that they could keep a better watch on him and possibly tame his wilder notions. That certainly worked out wonderfully, didn’t it?

The Muslim Brotherhood is a bloodthirsty, racist, Islamist-indoctrinated abomination. It deserves no place at any table. Will the U.S. administration wake up to that reality or not? If not—if we play a role in establishing them as “respectable”—we will suffer the consequences.

Egypt, Islamism, and a Grim Future

What are we to make of the uprising in Egypt? I am not an expert in Egyptian affairs, but a little history lesson might help here as we ponder what might happen next.

Egypt was one of the earliest enemies of the state of Israel. The wars in 1967 and 1973, in particular, were primarily between Egypt and Israel, although other Arab countries joined in. In both cases, Israel came out on top, especially in 1967 when it gained a lot more territory once the war ceased.

Anwar Sadat, who took over for the deceased Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1970, made a historic decision after the 1973 war to make peace with the idea of the existence of Israel in the Middle East. This culminated in the famous Camp David Accords in 1978, where the two countries officially established diplomatic ties. That made Egypt the only Arab country to acknowledge the right of the Jews to have their own nation. This well-known photo marked a new path for Arab-Israeli relations:

Sadat’s actions made him a pariah in the Arab world. Three years later, while reviewing the military, he was assassinated by the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist transnational movement and the largest political opposition party in Egypt:

Sadat’s assassination was a major blow to the Israelis and to the United States, Israel’s strongest ally.

His successor, Hosni Mubarak, has now been in power for 30 years. He rules as a strongman with a military that has been loyal to him throughout his tenure. He continued Sadat’s relationship with Israel [strained at times] and has been an ally [of sorts] of the United States, working for a peace settlement in the region. But life in Egypt is pretty bad for most of its citizens; poverty is the rule, prosperity the exception. That certainly has fueled much of the current protest.

The key to a proper analysis of the situation is knowing how much to attribute to a general outcry against Mubarak’s heavy-handed rule and how much might be the result of agitation by the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to impose Sharia law on the nation and lead Egypt into full participation in the worldwide Islamist jihad against the West.

Mubarak, without doubt, is no great leader. His goal is staying in power and enriching himself. On that basis, I find it difficult to support him. However, if he should fall, what will emerge? Will it be the Muslim Brotherhood as the ascendant power in the state? If so, that will be a disaster not only for Egypt, but for the Middle East and success in the war on terror.

Change is not always beneficial.

If Mubarak is unable to maintain his position, we have to hope that others not associated with the radicals rise to power. If the military resists radicalism, that is possible, but the trend toward the jihadists may be difficult to stop.

Even if the radicals don’t take over, any new government will probably be more antagonistic toward Israel and America. The portent for the future is grim.