The democratic revolution in Egypt started a few weeks ago when its people rose up in secular protest demanding change and reform of their government and way of life. But the confrontation quickly transitioned into chaos and a vicious and violent struggle for power as the Muslim Brotherhood and other professional Islamic agitators joined in, bringing a reaction from Egypt’s security forces. The confrontations we see today in Tahrir Square have little to do with the cause of the original protesters.
Without help from President Obama the people’s revolution has succeeded. The people have won the beginning of an extended fight to secure freedom and democracy for themselves and their children. They have been promised a change in government, national elections, and the resignation of their President, Hosni Mubarak. In short, the original democratic demonstrators couldn’t have been more successful. They have tasted freedom and democracy with a promise of more to come. Violence, chaos, and strife in Egypt should be decreasing with peace rising up in its place like a warm summer sun in April. But such is not the case.
On February 4, 2011, Presiding Anglican Bishop Mouneer Anis of Jerusalem and the Middle East said, “We in the church here [In Egypt] would like to see a very gracious transfer of authority … I think the Western administrations don’t understand well the situation on the ground here. They don’t know that if the president left suddenly there would be a vacuum (like what happened in Iraq), and this will give an opportunity for extreme groups to fight and divide and to play around. I’m sorry that these administrations asked the president to step down immediately. They don’t understand the situation.”
Long ago history should have taught us that for the most part negotiations held in public, with media access to them, fail. If the United States wants to successfully stabilize the situation in Egypt, then President Obama and his staffers need to be muzzled. They need to shut their mouths and quit making unhelpful, conflicting public statements lest the world’s leaders — including Saudi Arabia and Jordan –find out what a weak and unreliable ally Obama is.
All of Obama’s talk about violence being unacceptable is for the most part directed against Mubarak’s government and not toward the Muslim Brotherhood and the radical Islamic thugs, the original perpetrators of street violence. Obama’s publicly hinting at siding with radial Islamic agitators is neither helpful to Egypt, nor to the conduct of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East nor other parts of the world.
The Muslim Brotherhood is founded upon the following principles, “Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Koran is our law, Jihad is our way, and dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” The Brotherhood is well organized and funded and, if it is successful in its coup-like attempts, will not be helpful to the Egyptian people or to the United States.
Currently the original demonstrators’, political parties, Muslim terrorists and extremists of various sorts and the Muslim Brotherhood are all boiling in the same cauldron. Obama praises the demonstrators for their “passion and dignity” in restraining themselves. He does not praise Mubarak’s government for even greater restraint when they could ruthlessly crush the protestors with little effort.
Like the Egyptian people the U.S. — with no action on its part — has won the goals and objectives it has so long championed in Egypt. To claim victory it need only accept the change and reform that Mubarak so graciously offers. Next comes helping him and the Egyptian people to enter into an honest dialogue and to successfully navigate their way through the treacherous transition waters that — with great effort — could lead to peace, prosperity and stability. In the process they just might establish a new and democratic government, one based on the rule of law, justice, freedom and democracy.
The professional, “Johnny come lately” Islamic agitators, who are the main perpetrators of today’s violence in Tahrir Square, are trying to launch a coup and prevent the forming of a legitimate Egyptian government. Their goal is to capture and subvert the original secular democratic revolution through deceit, deception, chaos and brutality. Their ranks are composed of members of the Muslim Brotherhood, professional radical Muslim agitators and terrorists — and some are foreigners to Egypt.
They have little interest in helping the people of Egypt usher in a free and democratic state, but they intend through their ruthless and determined thuggery, to co-opt Egypt’s democratic revolution, topple Mubarak’s government, and implement a radical government of their own.
The most important question that must be answered is, “Who fills the vacuum?” This is always the tricky part in a revolution, choosing the right leaders to fill the vacuum caused by the overthrow of the current government, until a new government can be put in place through fair and peaceful elections — or through terror and deceit.
If a coup should actually take place, who wins? Who ends up in control of the government of Egypt? Columnist Charles Krauthammer identifies the coup members as being, “Disciplined, ruthless and ideologically committed – radical Islamists.” Unfortunately the national and international news media seem to have allowed themselves to be duped into advancing the cause of the radical, Islamic extremists.
During the U.S. presidential campaign of 2008, over and over again the media demonstrated its determined ability to faithfully clasp to its breast the words “reform” and “change” without ever asking Obama, “Change and reform from what to what?” The media seem to be following along that same blind road in covering the current Egyptian revolution.
Throughout most of the last half of the last century the salvation of the people of Egypt was in the hands and actions of its military forces. President Anwar Sadat was a product of the Egyptian military. He was the first Arab leader to visit Israel and managed to conclude a peace treaty with Israel before he was assassinated. Every Egyptian leader since 1952 has come from the military.
Over the years political stability in the Middle East has mostly been purchased by military officers who were willing and able to tread political tight ropes strung between camps of ruthless Islamic extremists, unscrupulous politicians and dictators, and various types of inept provisional governments. No perfect democracies have emerged, but in some cases a shaky democratic stability has been achieved.
Egypt’s potential options as a result of the current protests are probably these: With the support of the military and Egypt’s rich business class, Mubarak will shepherd a messy transitional government until elections take place. He then steps down and probably leaves the country; Or, Mubarak immediately steps down and his vice president leads the transitional process; Another variation is that El Baradai becomes a figurehead for a brutal radical Islamist transition government culminating in an extremist, Islamist seizure of power; Finally, there could be a transition government made up of those protestors who started the original uprising and who may try to rule with limited military support.
All of these variations will be shaky with dozens of other variations possible. The worst case is that there will be a bloody, senseless civil war with an unknowable outcome and everyone a loser.
Which of these options will float to the surface and be implemented at this time? I cannot hazard a guess. But I pray the criminal elements of radical Islamic extremism will not be successful in grabbing the Egyptian people’s democratic revolution by the neck and wringing it. During the period of transition, Egypt will be best served if the military supervises the transition process.
President Obama should openly and forcefully stand beside the Egyptian people in this their most dangerous hour, and not end up playing “the fool” to the tune of radical Muslim extremists.