Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cairo 2011: Next Stop-an Islamic Republic?

Photo: AFP

There is a lot of confusion about the ongoing Egyptian crisis, yet it is vital that people understand what is really at stake here.
It all happened before, but unfortunately, the American leadership headed by Barak Hussein Obama seems to have a short memory- or is simply ignorant of the new Middle East-  already on its way becoming a radical Islamic caliphate.
Former US President Jimmy Carter will go down in American history as "the president who lost Iran" a major US ally, trurning into a brutal Islamic state, destabilizing the entire Middle East. Now, thirty years later, President Obama is losing western oriented Turkey, Lebanon and now Egypt to the same fate. What started a few weeks ago in the so-called "Jasmine Revolution" in Tunis- has engulfed millions of Egyptians in their "Twitter Revolution" , with the epicenter culminating in Tahrir Square urging 83 year old President Hosni Mubarak to go, under Obama's obsessive pressure.
The collapse of the old regime in Cairo, once it takes place, will have a massive  on the entire region. The Domino effect, is  shaking the rulers in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Israel's thirty year long peace treaty with Egypt is questionable and will require a comprehensive strategic re-assessment, with significant military and economic repercussion.
Obama's incomprehensible  incompetence in foreign affairs has already become deadly for Middle East and for the entire western world- his present mishandling of the dangerous developments in Tunis, Beirut and now Cairo- seem catastrophic, to say the least. 
Within days, America's position in the "moderate" Arab world crumbled into an unprecedented abyss. So many carefully built relationships, which kept this volatile region on the brink of war, by careful crisis management and wise statesmanship in Washington, have evaporated, within days, into chaos and dangerous anarchy, from which only irresponsible elements, such as Islamic Jihad can benefit.
And so they shall indeed, sooner than later, as history teaches us here, for decades, but unfortunately, these trends remain strangely unheeded in Washington, as by many European leaders, which should know better, being already next in line, as targets of Islamic fundamentalism.
Freedom and liberalism are at the roots of western society and its culture and should be nourished by every democracy- but, as history in the Middle East has, time and again demonstrated, the Arab world has not yet absorbed the benefits of this domain and extremist elements exploit free elections as convenient instruments in gaining ruthless power for their Islamic ambitions. Hezbollah and Hamas are only two recent detrimental events.
Now the Washington's oppressive demand to dismantle Hosni Mubarak's thirty year rule, which may not have been based on liberal principles, but nevertheless kept eighty million people living in peace for three decades,  within a volatile region, in which thousands of  Egyptians lost their lives in three wars with Israel. Now, with Mubarak, the Tyrant gone, and with chaos and anarchy ruling the streets, with no reliable leadership in sight, the scene will soon be ripe for an Islamic take over, which will have serious consequences. These will not only be highly precarious for the Egyptian people, longing for freedom, which will be denied them, but catastrophic for the entire region. The big question asked by secular moderates is wether Muslim Brotherhood will hijack the "Twitter Revolution"?  Indeed, many of the Egyptian seculars demonstrating in the streets of Cairo, are fearing the Muslim 'fixers in the shadows'  may emerge as Egypt's new leadership.
So who are those Islamic elements, which are sofar carefully watching events, waiting in the background, only to make their move when the right moment arrives.
Introducing the Muslim Brotherhood
Being the most organized factions in Egypt, excluding the army,  the Muslim Brotherhood has a long history in Middle East politices and foremost in Egypt. Founded by Imam Hassan al-Banna in 1928, as an Islamic political social movement, its ranks swelled to nearly two million members, during WW2, supporting the Nazis, involved in agitation against the British, espionage and sabotage, as well as support for terrorist activities orchestrated by the Mufti Haj Amin el-Hussaini. The Brotherhood has been an illegal organization, but remains the largest opposition group in Egypt, advocating Islamic reform. In the 2005 parliamentary elections, the Brotherhood's candidates, who had to run as independents due to their illegality as a political party, won 88 seats (20% of the total) to form the largest opposition bloc. However in last November elections, the Brotherhood was totally banned, which may have aggravated the tension already building up against Mubarak.
The Egyptian Brotherhood has also strong links with Al Qaeda. Dr Ayman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, had joined al Qaeda in 1998 to become Osama Bin Laden's Second in Command. Several of Al Qaeda's prominent leaders were also members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
Mohamed ElBaradie, the Nobel Laureate who ran the International Atomic Energy Agency, now aspires to serve as an interim leader, following Mubarak's regime.  He is supported by the Muslim Brotherhood, and, in turn, tries to portray the Islamic organization as a moderate, social oriented faction, which should not arouse fear in the mostly secular majority, now demonstrating against the military regime. But once the Brotherhood will gain political power filling the vacuum, those very seculars will be in for a terrifying surprise, as happened to the  secular student of Tehran thirty years ago.
But there is an even more sinister scenario lurking in the shadows. The Mubarak regime has long been suspicious of the connection between the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, based in large part on Iran's strong ties to Hamas, an offshoot of the Brotherhood. Although most oriental analysts claim that Sunni Egypt is far from coming under the banner of Tehran's Shiite influence, it is perhaps lesser known, that Egyptians are more receptive and positively disposed toward Shiism than other Sunni Arabs. One reason is the Fatimid Dynasty that was established in Egypt in the tenth century as an offshoot of the Shiite Ismaelite movement. According to official estimates, the Shiites constitute less than 1 percent of the Egyptian population (approximately 657,000), but Muhammad al-Darini, a prominent Sunni who converted to Shiism, puts the figure at 1.5 million, However the Muslim Brotherhood, although being Sunni in its religion, has already long-standing relationship with the Shiite clerics in Tehran Following the 1979 Islamic revolution, the Egyptian Brotherhood openly sided with Khomeini's revolutionaries as they overthrew the Shah. Now ignoring  lessons from the past, Obama and his aides gamble  that an anti-American Islamist government in Cairo, allied with Iran won’t emerge from the chaos. But when polled only recently, 59% of Egyptians said they backed the Islamists, which should have raised alarm bells in Washington long ago. As the world now watches the present turmoil in Egypt, there is a palpable fear that the Muslim Brotherhood will eventually seize power. With Iran already deeply involved with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, there is little doubt that, given the opportunity, Tehran's Islamic specter will also target Cairo.

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