WASHINGTON – Defense Minister Ehud Barak said there is no room to compare the current developments
in Egypt to Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979.
"I don't believe that something similar to the Iranian events 30 years ago is happening now. I think that the Egyptians, they have their own way," Barak
said during an exclusive interview with ABC's "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour, which was taped before Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was ousted.
However, Barak warned against Egypt holding elections too soon, saying the only group ready to run and win an election would be the Muslim Brotherhood.
"The real winners of any short-term election, let's say within 90 days, will be the Muslim Brotherhood, because they are already ready to jump and the -- usually in revolutions, if they are violent, there is an eruption of idealist sentiment at the first moment and later on, sooner than later, the only group which is coherent, focused, ready to kill and be killed if necessary, takes power," he told ABC.
"That should be avoided in Egypt because that could be a catastrophe for the whole region."
'Don't threaten us with this.' The interview (Photo courtesy of CNN)
Barak said he did not believe the Brotherhood when it said it would not present a candidate for presidency, but added "I think that we should not very easily compare them to, I know, to the most extremist groups of terror and so on. It's an Egyptian version. Many of them are less extremist."
The Egyptian army has stressed it was committed to observing the country's international treaties, including the peace treaty with Israel.
In the interview, the defense minister said, "I don't think that the relationship between Israel and Egypt is under any risk."
Asked by Amanpour if another democracy in the Middle East took "away some of (Israel's) specialness because Israel has always prided itself on being the only democracy in that region," Barak said, "Don't threaten us with this. I would be happy to meet with you at the moment that all neighbors will have the same civil society and the same respect to the rule of law and the same kind of active, vibrant democracy that we have."
Turning his attention to the protests against King Abdullah's regime, the defense minister said, "I think that Jordan is strong. I think that they will hold on. I believe that they've already opened their parliament and their system, the press and others, to many voices... And I hope and wish that they will remain stable for a long time."
Asked whether a people's representative Arab Middle East will be more likely to make peace with Israel, Barak said, "If you would make it overnight, probably not." However, he said, he said, there are opportunities for the Middle East to move in what he considers the right direction.