We are told that in mere moments, we will hear the announcements of the heavily contested elections in Egypt. The two leading candidates are Ahmed Shafiq (Mubarak’s last Prime Minister) the Muslim Brotherhood’s er Mohammed Morsi. Neither are really the “cream of the crop” in terms of their respective camps, but the election process turned out this way as each side tried to not scare the other too much.
Morsi was relatively unknown among the Islamists, and this is precisely why he was chosen as a candidate for the previously banned Muslim Brotherhood (mother of Egyptian Jihad and Hamas). Other candidates it was feared, would inspire too much fear by the middle class and more secular sections of Egyptian society. Likewise, Omar Suleiman, a master diplomat and long time feared intelligence chief under Mubarak who not only survived the revolution, avoided prosecution but also became very popular as a critic of the Muslim Brotherhood post Mubarak, had earlier announced his candidacy.
Suleiman was quickly barred from running. He was considered too close politically to Hosni Mubarak, as his Vice President and spy chief. The faces of the rabble at Tahir Square did not represent the broad spectrum of society in Egypt, as I repeatedly warned from the very beginning here at the Lighthouse. These people were largely Islamists, communists, and apolitical “street youth”. A figure like Suleiman could have galvanized the Egyptian middle class behind him to stop the Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood had a large advantage over the other newly formed parties in organization, campaign know-how, and funding because of its decades of underground existence in Egypt. They also benefited from a large degree of credit from leading Mubarak’s downfall. Though the western media kept calling the rabble “freedom protesters” regardless of what they were chanting, Egyptians themselves do speak Arabic and understood them all too well.
From the very outset of the Arab Spring, as the western media naively lauded praises to the “freedom loving youth” and pressured every Western government to abandon their allies and agreements in the Arab world, at the Lighthouse I warned of what this truly was about. Only reluctantly and far too late, did the western media even begin to report on Islamist “factions” within the Arab spring. Obama himself was confused at why Iran crushed its own protests, but supported the other state’s protests. It was amateur hour. Before long the US and NATO were fighting alongside Al-Qaeda in Libya and elsewhere in North Africa, and pressuring Mubarak to step down when only weeks before Hillary Clinton had met with him, praised him and stressed what an important key ally his government was to the US. All of this, and much more we covered in earlier articles.
In Tunisia, the first elections and Constitutional assemblies were dominated by Enhada, an Islamist party. Recent months have been plagued by ever-increasing violence by Salafis and other Islamists. Freedom of speech has been severely restricted, and Islam and Sharia have been declared to be the basis for legislation. Libya’s mess is hard to describe. Thousands upon thousands of people were killed and maimed by the onslaught of the Islamist rebels, supported by NATO forces and subsequent civil war. Today, there is no centralized control of the government, as militias rule and battle for turf. In fact, Libya seems ready to split completely into eastern and western states. Hard core Islamists with terrorists pasts like Hakim Belhadj have taken key leadership positions, both of the weak NTC and the various militias. As a backlash, some of the tribes have backed Gaddafi era figures and retaken some of the Libyan territory such as Bani Walid. Thousands are being held prisoner extra-legally, killed and tortured at the mere rumor that they were Gaddafi supporters. The NTC (or Zintan militia) have also seized Western lawyers who were trying to represent Saif al-Islam (Qaddafi’s captured son). Violence, crime and Islamic extremism is everywhere in Libya. Meanwhile, the pro Qaddafi southern tribes have fled en mass, many with weapons, and have caused instability in Mali and elsewhere. Of course, Western mercenaries have been flown in and hired by the NTC to secure the oil installations, which was what the NTC rebels promised European states in exchange for their betrayal of Qaddafi.
Now there is Egypt. Mere moments before the announcements, most observers and experts are confident the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate is in the lead. In all 3 countries, Islamists have replaced the pro-Western regimes, and this was all absurdly supported by the West. The blindness the West has to eastern societies and values, and its stubborn belief in “democracy” as some sort of holy creed itself has doomed it to believe it has no enemies among nations, and that even if it did, all that has to be done to your enemy is to allow him to vote. Allies and democracies are not the same. More so, freedom and democracy are not the same. Democracy simply denotes a dictatorship of the majority over all including the minority. There is little difference between that and the dictatorship of one or a few men over all (who are likely to be more intelligent than the average citizen anyway). The US Constitution is a most clear example of that, much more than encoding democracy for the US, it encodes LIMITS on this democracy, limits on the power of government and thus ensures some level of freedom. Freedom is the lack of someone ruling over you, not that it be the majority that does so. Enemies were once foes to be defeated, now they are to be given the vote, foreign aid and F-15 jets to replace old Mig-21s.
Until now, the army in Egypt under General Tantawi has remarkably held all the real power in Egypt since Mubarak’s downfall. In fact, it was the army that allowed Mubarak to fall (or better said, ordered him to resign). It is too bad that they were not loyal enough to resist the mobs then, because they had to resist them afterwards anyway. My article on the events in Tahir square pointed out early on in the Arab Spring, that in Egypt, the army held all the power. I also pointed out that, though they could be persuaded to stand on the sidelines while Mubarak was ousted, once it was them personally being challenged, their reaction would be much more violent. So far, that is exactly what has happened. Since Mubarak’s fall Tantawi has intervened to curve the power of the courts attempting to prosecute regime figures including Mubarak, has battles protesters in the streets, and most importantly curved the powers of the new president-to-be and dismissed the newly elected parliament (that was of course dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood). Egypt’s minorities, middle class and more moderate or secular Muslims have to come to see the army as their only protection against domination by the Muslim Brotherhood. This is why many voted for a Mubarak prime minister, however unpopular that would otherwise have been. Egypt is said to be at the forefront of the Arab world and is arguably the most important of the Arab nations.
That with the massive support of the West, it is about to announce an Islamist president, candidate for a long banned terrorist group (responsible for the murder of Anwar Al-Saddat and through Dr. Al-Zawahiri ultimately the source for the 911 attack) is hard to believe.
The question is what is happening behind closed doors, and if the Generals will really give up the country to the Brotherhood? What seems to be taking place is that the army will declare them victorious, as long as they accept that they lead the government in name only. It will be a weak presidential office, and rubber stamp parliament (if it ever is allowed to convene) and real power will remain with the military. However, if the Brotherhood rejects this, it is possible that the army will declare Shafiq the winner, which will unavoidably lead to clashes and much uncertainty.
Ultimately, the Egyptians have the most to lose by giving power over to their radical Islamists. They will undoubtedly (as Omar Suleiman warned), continuously push the line in Sinai by breaking the treaty provisions, and allowing rocket and terrorist attacks against Israel as well as supporting Hamas in Gaza. This should (but unfortunately is unlikely due to the political climate in Israel) lead to Israel declaring the Camp David Accords void and sending in the IDF to recapture the mostly unpopulated Sinai peninsula. Egypt, while under the brilliant leadership of men like Sadat, Shazly and Mubarak (who was Air force chief during the Yom Kippur war) achieved what was unimaginable in 1973 ; they fought well against Israel (though ultimately were defeated), and through much sacrifice eventually regained Egyptian control over the Sinai (to my great dismay). They however were never too popular with the rabble; it was rabble pleasers like Nasser and Amer who lost the Sinain to Israel to begin with. The rabble in the Arab Street liked Marxism back then, today it likes Islam, but the rabble leaders remain as incompetent as before. Though Egypt, under Islamists propped up by the West, may lead the Arab world to break the 30 years of peace between Israel and the Arab states, it will be them who eventually will pay the higher price.