Thursday, September 20, 2012

Whither Egypt

Karnack the Magnificent gazed into his crystal ball and foresaw the future of Egypt is bleak. Ra, the Sun God, is setting on one of the greatest cultural heritages in the world.

The Egyptian people in their glorious 6,000 years of recorded history have experienced at best a nanosecond of democracy.  Pharaohs, The House of Ptolemy, Romans, Byzantines, Persians, Turks, French, British, pashas, khedives, sultans, kings and dictators have ruled Egypt - everyone but the Egyptian people themselves.

The Muslim Brotherhood is currently consolidating political power in Egypt. It controls the legislative and executive branches and is reining in the military.

Its credo is “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader, Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.” This credo, unlike the professed goals of political parties in western democracies, does not include bettering the material lives of the citizens during their life on earth. Rather, it aspires to the soul, to religious salvation in the next life.

It does not support pluralism, freedom of releigion, or of the press.

The question is what happens when the populace turns on the Muslim Brotherhood because of its failure to improve their lives? What happens when the euphoria lifts and hunger sets in?

The Egyptian economy is sinking fast. Tourism to the Jewel of the Nile has dried up. Energy exports to Israel are at risk. Foreign currency will become a sorely needed commodity.

If history is any guide, The Muslim Brotherhood will not peacefully surrender power. Instead, a ruthless dictatorship of religious intolerance will rule, not immediately, but soon enough. Egypt has already seen anti-Christian riots directed against the Coptic Christian 15% of the population.

The Iranian Revolution witnessed the flight of hundreds of thousands of Persians, both Jewish and Muslim. Quite a few managed to get their assets out of Iran. America is the great beneficiary of these refugees.
One assumes that the middle and upper classes in Egypt are at least contemplating emigrating from Egypt, ensuring the loss of a stabilizing middle class. The younger, educated generation, the force of last year’s revolution, will emigrate or sullenly suffer, as in Iran.

The students have been pushed aside, as history consistently shows that in most violent revolutions, the radicals displace the moderates.

That premise is a problem in Egypt because the Muslim Brotherhood is being pushed in turn by the even more religiously conservative Salafis, cousins to the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia. The Egyptian Revolution is not over, but the odds do not favor democracy.  The Muslim Brotherhood may have to show more intolerance and radical acts to maintain power.

Always remember, they have Allah on their side.

The past week has shown how easy it is to manipulate the Arab Street by demagogues, especially in the name of Allah. A large segment of the Egyptian population hates both Israel and the United States. The temptation to launch a Jihad against Israel, perhaps in concert with Hamas and Hezbollah, may prove irresistible to Egyptian leaders as a means to relieve the domestic pressure cooker.

Egypt deserves better.  

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