After the Islamist Mohamed Morsy was declared the victor in Egypt’s presidential
elections on Sunday, experts were divided about the ramifications for Egypt,
Israel and the wider Middle East.
Zvi Mazel, a fellow of The Jerusalem
Center for Public Affairs and a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden,
said Morsy’s election victory meant that Egypt’s 2011 revolution had
“It’s a confirmation that democracy is not on the agenda in
Egypt,” Mazel said.
He noted that the stated goal of the Muslim
Brotherhood movement, which was founded in Egypt in 1928, is to introduce
Shari’a law and Islamize the world.
“Israel should worry,” he added,
saying that while Morsy pledged to honor Egypt’s international agreements, he
also suggested bringing the issue of the 1979 peace treaty with Israel to a
Morsy had said many times that his plans were to conquer
Jerusalem, Mazel noted, adding that the Brotherhood would likely work to
gradually create an Islamic state in Egypt.
That could result in Egyptian
support for Hamas, including an open border to the Gaza Strip and open provision
of weapons to the terrorist group, Mazel suggested.
In recent weeks, the
Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took power after president
Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February 2011, have made a number of moves to secure
power, including putting in place laws empowering it to veto any new
Citing recent concerns that there could be a conflict
between Morsy and SCAF, which has pledged to hand over control to the new
president by July 1, Mazel said it was likely Morsy would move to overturn a
recent order to disband Egypt’s parliament, in which case the country’s draft
constitution would have a heavy Islamic influence.
Morsy could also move
to weaken the military, by retiring high-ranking generals and replacing them
with his own men, Mazel said, adding that while this could take some time to
accomplish it would mean that Morsy was free of the army.
Mazel said the
army had failed to win its battle with the Brotherhood after Mubarak was ousted,
and had been unable to reach a compromise with the Islamist movement.
US, which failed to offer support to the army, was partly to blame, Mazel
“The army was isolated and attacked by the Muslim Brotherhood,” he
added, noting that young Egyptians, disillusioned and unhappy at SCAF’s decrees,
had also supported the Brotherhood.
While Mazel pointed to the
Brotherhood’s history, its rhetoric and its stated aims of an Islamic Middle
Mira Tzoreff of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and
African Studies at Tel Aviv University offered a more optimistic
Tzoreff, who has written about the Brotherhood, said while Morsy
would almost certainly spout more hardline Islamic-sounding rhetoric, there
would likely be a gap between what he says and what he does.
politically and economically, Morsy will have to adopt policies acceptable to
all Egyptians, including liberal and secular people, Tzoreff said.
does that, he might succeed in unifying Egypt and pulling it out of the
socioeconomic mire,” she added.
According to Tzoreff, Morsy is
“theoretically capable” of succeeding, but only if he cooperates with SCAF and
other parties and does not become a captive to his Brotherhood
Noting a speech Morsy made last week, in which he talked of
becoming the president of all Egyptians, Tzoreff said the newly elected leader
did not make any reference to Shari’a law but instead said he would support a
Even though the Brotherhood’s ideology has always been to
Islamize Egypt, reality will force Morsy to take a different tack, Tzoreff
Referring to claims that Morsy’s election could result in Egypt
becoming more like Iran, Tzoreff said that this was unlikely to
“There is quite a difference between Egypt and Iran,” she said,
noting that Egypt’s Brotherhood leadership had a predominantly secular
education, whereas Iran’s leaders have a completely religious
“Morsy himself has an engineering doctorate from an American
university,” Tzoreff said. “This is very significant.”