The coverage of recent events in Egypt is further proof that Western elites
cannot see the forest for the trees. Over the past week, leading newspapers have
devoted relatively in-depth coverage to the Egyptian military authorities’
repressive actions in subduing protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo,
particularly during their large protest last Friday.
That is, they have
provided in-depth coverage of one spent force repressing another spent force.
Neither the military nor the protesters are calling the shots anymore in Egypt,
if they ever were. That is the job of the Muslim Brotherhood.
proximate cause of last Friday’s mass demonstration was what the so-called
Twitter and Facebook revolutionaries consider the military’s slowness to respond
to their demand for ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s head on a platter. The
military responded by announcing that Mubarak and his sons will go on trial for
capital crimes on August 3.
Beyond bloodlust, the supposedly liberal
young sweethearts of the Western media are demanding a cancellation of the
results of the referendum held in March on the sequencing of elections and
constitutional reform. Voting in that referendum was widely assessed as the
freest vote in Egyptian history. Seventy-seven percent of the public voted to
hold parliamentary and presidential elections in September and to appoint
members of a constitutional assembly from among the elected members of the next
parliament to prepare Egypt’s new constitution.
The protesters rightly
assert that the early elections will pave the way for the Muslim Brotherhood’s
takeover of Egypt, since the Brotherhood is the only well-organized political
force in Egypt. But then, the liberals said they wanted popular
The Facebook protesters demanded Mubarak’s immediate removal from
power in January. They would not negotiate Mubarak’s offer to use the remainder
of his final term to shepherd Egypt towards a quasi-democratic process that
might have prevented the Brotherhood from taking over.
In their fantasy
world – which they inhabit with Western intellectuals – the fates of nations are
determined by the number of “likes” on your facebook page. And so, when they had
the power to avert the democratic Islamist takeover of their country in January,
they squandered it.
Now, when it is too late, they are trying to win
through rioting what they failed to win at the ballot box, thus discrediting
their protestations of liberal values.
Their new idea was spelled out
last week at an EU-sponsored conference in Cairo. According to the Egyptian
media, they hope to convince the military they protest against to stack the deck
for the constitutional assembly in a way that prevents the Brotherhood from
controlling the proceedings. As Hishan el-Bastawisy, a former appellate
judge and presidential hopeful explained, “What we can push for now is that the
Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has to put some guarantees of choosing the
constituent assembly in the sense that it does not reflect the parliamentary
So much for Egypt’s liberal democrats.
AS FOR the
military, its actions to date make clear that its commanders do not see
themselves as guardians of secular rule in Egypt. Instead, they see themselves
as engines for a transition from Mubarak’s authoritarian secularism to the
Brotherhood’s populist Islamism.
Since forcing Mubarak to resign, the
military junta has embraced Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim
Brotherhood. They engineered the Palestinian unity government which will pave
the way for Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian Authority’s legislative and
presidential elections scheduled for the fall.
Then there is Sinai. Since
the revolution, the military has allowed Sinai to become a major base not only
for Hamas but for the global jihad. As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
warned on Monday, Egyptian authorities are not asserting their sovereignty in
Sinai and jihadists from Hamas, al-Qaida and other groups are inundating the
Last week’s move to open Egypt’s border with Gaza at the Rafah
passage is further proof that the military has made its peace with the Islamic
takeover of Egypt. While the likes of The New York Times
make light of the
significance of the move by pointing to the restrictions that Egypt has placed
on Palestinian travel, the fact is that the Egyptians just accepted Hamas’s
sovereignty over an international border.
Many in the West argue that
given Egypt’s increasingly dire economic situation, there is no way the military
will turn its back on the US and Europe. By all accounts, Egypt is facing
economic collapse. By summer’s end it will be unable to feed its population due
to grain shortages. By November, its foreign reserves will have dried
But rather than do everything they can to convince foreign investors
and governments that Egypt’s market is safe, the military junta is taking steps
that destroy the credibility of the Egyptian market. To please both the
Mubarak-obsessed protesters at Tahrir Square and the Muslim Brotherhood, the
military refuses to reinstate natural gas shipments to Israel.
is Egypt denying itself hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues by cutting
off gas shipments to Israel, (and Jordan, Syria and Lebanon). It is destroying
its reputation as a credible place to do business. And according to the New York
, it is also making it impossible for the Obama administration to help the
Egyptian economy. The Times
’ reported this week that the US tied President
Barack Obama’s pledge of $1 billion in debt forgiveness and $1b. in loan
guarantees to the Egyptian authorities asserting sovereignty in northern Sinai.
Presumably this means they must renew gas shipments to Israel and fight
The fact that the military would rather facilitate Egypt’s
economic collapse than take the unpopular step of renewing gas shipments to
Israel ought to end any thought that economic interests trump political
sentiments. This situation will only get worse when the Muslim Brotherhood takes
over Egypt in September.
AND MAKE no mistake. They intend to take over.
As they did in the lead up to March’s constitutional referendum, the Brotherhood
is using its mosques as campaign offices. The message is clear: If you are a
good Muslim you will vote for the Muslim Brotherhood.
When Mubarak was
overthrown in January, the Brotherhood announced it would only contest 30% of
the parliamentary seats. Last month the percentage rose to 50. In all
likelihood, in September the Brotherhood will contest and win the majority of
the seats in the Egyptian parliament.
When Mubarak was overthrown, the
Brotherhood announced it would not run a candidate for president. And when
Brotherhood Shura governing council member and Physicians Union leader Abdel
Moneim Aboul Fotouh announced last month that he is running for president, the
Brotherhood quickly denied that he is the movement’s candidate. But there is no
reason to believe them.
According to a report Thursday in Egypt’s Al-
’s English edition, the Brotherhood is playing to win. They are
invoking the strategies of the movement’s founder, Hassan al-Banna, for
establishing an Islamic state. His strategy had three stages: indoctrination,
empowerment and implementation. Al-Masry al-Youm
cites Khairat al- Shater, the
Brotherhood’s “organizational architect,” as having recently asserted that the
Brotherhood is currently in the second stage and moving steadily towards the
Now that we understand that they are about to implement
their goal of Islamic statehood, we need to ask what it means for Egypt and the
On Sunday, Brotherhood Chairman Mohammed Badie gave an interview
to Egyptian television that was posted on the Muslim Brotherhood’s English
website iquwanweb.com. Badie’s statements indicated that the Brotherhood will
end any thought of democracy in Egypt by taking control over the media. Badie
said that the Brotherhood is about to launch a public news channel, “with
commitment to the ethics of the society and the rules of the Islamic
He also demanded that state radio and television begin
broadcasting recordings of Banna’s speeches and sermons. Finally, he complained
about the anti-Brotherhood hostility of most private media organs in
As for Israel, Badie was asked how a Brotherhood- led Egypt would
react if Israel takes military action against Hamas. His response was honest
enough. As he put it, “The situation will change in such a case, and the
Egyptian people will have their voice heard. Any government in power will have
to respect the choice of the people, whatever that is, like in any
In other words, the peace between Israel and Egypt will die
of populist causes.
SO FAR, Israel’s responses to these strategically
disastrous developments have been muted and insufficient. On Wednesday, the
Defense Ministry announced that Israel is speeding up construction of the border
fence between Egypt and Israel. The 210-km.-long fence is scheduled to be
completed by the end of 2012.
While this is an important move given
Gaza’s effective fusion into Sinai with the border opening, it does not address
the looming threat from Egypt itself. It does not address the fact that with
Mubarak’s ouster, a previously all-but unthinkable outbreak of hostilities with
Egypt has now become eminently thinkable.
Facing the prospect of a Muslim
Brotherhoodruled Egypt in September, Israel’s government must begin preparing
both diplomatically and militarily for a new confrontation with
The West’s intoxication with the myth of the Arab Spring means
that currently, the political winds are siding with Egypt. If Egypt were to
start a war with Israel, or simply support Hamas in a war against Israel, at a
minimum, Cairo would enjoy the same treatment from Europe and the US that the
Hezbollah-dominated Lebanese government and army enjoyed in 2006. To block this
possibility, the government must begin educating opinion shapers and political
leaders in the West about the nature of the Muslim Brotherhood It must also call
for a cut-off of US military aid to Egypt.
Militarily, the government
must increase the size of the IDF’s Southern Command. The Egyptian armed forces
have more than a million men under arms. Egypt’s arsenal includes everything
from F-16s to Abrams tanks to first-class naval ships to ballistic missiles to
sophisticated pontoon bridges for crossing the Suez Canal.
The IDF must
expand its draft rolls and increase its force size by at least one division. It
must also begin training in desert warfare and develop and purchase appropriate
With the Iranians now apparently moving from
developing nuclear capabilities to developing nuclear warheads, and with the
Palestinians escalating their political war and planning their next terror war
against Israel, it stands to reason that nobody in the government or the IDF wants
to consider the strategic implications of Egypt’s reversion from peace partner
But Israel doesn’t get to decide what our neighbors do. We can
only take the necessary steps to minimize their ability to harm us.
time to get cracking.
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