(I published this elsewhere in February of 2011. Most of what I predicted has come to pass. In fact, it has been worse than I expected.)
What is it that disturbs us about the uprising in Egypt? Surely, the Tunisian uprising of late garnered neither the attention nor the commentary devoted to the Egyptian unrest. Most assuredly, the commotion in Greece did nothing to spark such debate. Because the Greek revolts were damning to its current domestic policy the Obama administration remained silent, as the ancient country burned in the backdrop of the Parthenon. Why such speech in the case of Egypt? Freedom, solidarity, the acrimonious “step down,” words and phrases receiving demagogic royalties, as 300 people die in open conflict in the streets of Cairo.
In a morally inverted world, led by no other than the faculty lounge, the Muslim brotherhood is “moderate,” Mubarak is “domineering” at best, “despotic” at worst, and “freedom” is the motivation behind the Egyptian savagery. All in a days work. But when really examining both the cause and the potential consequences of the disturbance, a few things are noticed:
Tunisia is not Egypt. Having a modern secular ideology, the Tunisian uprising stimulated no real fear in the hearts of the west. But certainly, the autocratic despots in the region slept with one eye open. “Tunisia sticks out like a bloody thumb from the rest of the Arab world,” wrote Josef Joffe of The New Republic. Tunisian society, with its advanced economic strength, western influence, and educated population, was ripe for democracy. Due to the unpopularity of overt expressions of Muslim faith and its political influence, Christians, Jews, and Muslims live in stable peace within the country’s borders. Tunisia’s culture puts Islam in check, which is why nobody fears the consequences of the Tunisian revolution. Amusingly, Mr. Joffe proceeded to write that Egypt is “too poor” for revolution. In classic Marxist fashion, ideas and actions are contingent material phenomenon. So much for the reigning experts.
With Egypt the cause is convoluted, extensive, and hardly noticeable. Its subtle character halts no attempts by the incompetent media pundits, and administration spokespersons, from musing. “Freedom” is the only continuously chanted, cogent, yet painfully deluded reason that has thus been advanced. But there are some disturbing facts related to Egypt that would be unwise to ignore.
Egypt is not Tunisia. If freedom is both the cause and the desire, as the question should be asked in the case of any revolution: freedom from and to what? The disparity of conclusions between the American and French revolutions are enough to solidify the point. The answers to this question are based solely on the sentiments of those seeking freedom. And only people of the most naïve and idiotic mindset believe that the Egyptian revolutionaries are the Arabic equivalents of a Patrick Henry. Perhaps a convulsing, rabid, fanatical Robespierre is a more exact historical association.
According to a June, 2010 Pew opinion survey of Egyptians:
“Fifty nine percent said they back Islamists. Only 27% said they back modernizers. Half of Egyptians support Hamas. Thirty percent support Hizbullah and 20% support al Qaida. Moreover, 95% of them would welcome Islamic influence over their politics. Eighty two percent of Egyptians support executing adulterers by stoning, 77% support whipping and cutting the hands off thieves. 84% support executing any Muslim who changes his religion.”
Rapidly we begin to see where a democratic Egypt may go: Iran 79-80? Writing on Israelnationalnews.com, in an article entitled “Women in the Cairo Street Scenes: a Troubling Photo Essay” Dr. Phyllis Chesler, Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the City University of New York, expresses her exhaustion with the situation:
“For days now, the mainstream and leftstream media have been telling us that the Muslim Brotherhood is not dangerous, not radically Islamist—but that even if they are Islamist that they are popular amongst the people. Western leftists view the Brothers as engaged in a Hamas-like form of soup kitchen social work/theocratic totalitarianism, but who nevertheless have earned the right to be democratically voted into power by the people. They have been invited to join the negotiations with Mubarak’s regime.”
“When given the opportunity, the crowds on the street are not shy about showing what motivates them. They attack Mubarak and his new Vice President Omar Suleiman as American puppets and Zionist agents. The US, protesters told CNN’s Nick Robertson, is controlled by Israel. They hate and want to destroy Israel. That is why they hate Mubarak and Suleiman.”
Moderate indeed. Unfortunately, Saladin would be far too judicious for the Egyptian populace to embrace, forget Suleiman the Magnificent. It appears, by all accounts, only a President bent on the destruction of Israel, as is the case with Iran, or a monarchic Saudi model will work for Egyptians, of which Mubarak is neither, El Bardai maintains elements of both. And one thing remains painfully clear, democracy will only be a means by which Islamic policies are put in place and then all semblance of this “freedom” drivel will vaporize into the mist of sharia totalitarianism. Freedom from Mubarak and his regime, which has done everything possible to keep Islam at bay since the assassination of Anwar Sadat by the “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood for making peace with Israel, will translate into freedom to subjugate women, kill Israelis, fund terrorism, advance a Caliphate Ideology, all with the doting confluence of the western liberal elite. We hardly need to look at the recent attempts at democracy in the Middle East for evidence. As Former PLO terrorist and now pro-Israel activist, Walid Shoebat, opined:
“What did democratic elections in Muslim majority nations do? Iran is now a theocracy, Lebanon is in a state of chaos, Palestine is still a state of psychosis, Sudan is on the verge of splitting, and Turkey’s democratic elections are slowly emerging as an axis that will eventually lead to an Islamist alliance against Israel and the West. Soon, we’ll also see North Africa – in the name of democracy – remove all their dictators so they can elect you know who!”
One can sense his frustration.
1) Obama and his administration are clueless when it comes to the Middle East, and verily duplicitous in the rhetoric expressed for freedom as an ideal in the region. Extending from Morocco to Pakistan, snaking to Indonesia and dredging deep into sub-Saharan Africa, the region is aflame with unrestrained autocracy. If thus, the question remains: why was Obama silent when protesters took to the streets of Tehran? The protesters having demanded a secular democracy in the western tradition, a supposed ideal, they got nothing but silent slurs from Obama. Some of them will rot in an Iranian prison for life, and many of them are dead. Where was the “step down”? This is to be expected from the man who demanded that the U.S. remove troops from Iraq as the struggling democracy sought to fight off extremists, no doubt many of them members of the “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood.
Obama’s Middle East policy can be summed up with almost mathematical/function like precision. Reactions are predicated on initial conditions: Pro-western, anti-Muslim riots in Tehran. Silence. Anti-western, pro-Muslim riots in Egypt: “step down.” Pro-western regime: “evil colonial puppets.” Anti-western regime: “I am sorry, America has been arrogant.” Democratic and Capitalist Israel: treated with disrespect and condescension. Fictional Palestine or Hamas: catered to, aided and sometimes lauded. It is disgusting.
2) The Israelis. Many have worried that the Israelis will be the losers in this atrocious game. And they are right. Unless Mubarak stays in power, or somehow the peace treaty with Israel is continued under a new regime, they will lose. But the loss is mutual. If relations with Israel erode, the much more fragile Egyptian economy will decline. Egypt will find itself more reliant on peace with Israel than it would like to admit. Israel needs Egypt not, with a new wave of European investment in its economy, she will thrive for decades to come. And if it comes to military conflict Israel will suffer casualties, but we should have no doubt who will be the victor.
3) The Iranians and other Muslim States: Iran will use the fertile ground in Egypt to try and grow more proxy organizations, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, perhaps even absorbing the Muslim Brotherhood as its own patron dagger.
Hamas in the Gaza strip will exert more bravado. Mubarak was good at keeping the Gaza strip contained, blockading transfer of weapons, or anything, on the Egyptian side. With Mubarak gone, weapons transfer will resume, refilling the arsenals that are used against Israeli civilians in Sderot and the Negev.
Saudi Arabia will seek to profit somehow from this, mostly by sitting there and raking in the profits due to skyrocketing oil prices. As they do so well.
Syria awaits a new and long-desired alliance with Egypt against Israel, the likes of which have not been seen since 1973.
While the Israelis are busy monitoring the situation in Egypt, Hezbollah in the North will use this as a time to prepare for their nearly annual showdown.
4) Europe. Europe awaits the opportunity to chastise Israel with U.N. resolutions for any necessary defensive action taken. The European intellectuals have already started to blame Israel for the unrest in the most creative of ways.
In conclusion, this situation is typical of the Middle East and is not at all surprising. Muslims will destroy any remaining credibility that they may have gained with the success in Iraq, liberals will be sated as an anti-western regime arises, and Israel will be blamed for everything. Democracy in the Middle East is one of the most dangerous things possible, because all too often it expresses the desires of the Muslim street, the Imams, the fanatics. Not until the Muslim world shows us that they are willing to live in peace with Israel, fight terrorist elements in their midst, and join the world community, will they be free of dictators. Period. If the west should understand anything about the Middle East, it is a lesson that Israel learned a long time ago: even the moderates want to destroy western culture, they just don’t say it as often.