Ron Ben-Yishai

Egypt vote: The day after

Part 1 of analysis: Islamist Egypt will be hostile to Israel, bodes badly for Mideast’s secular regimes

Dr. Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood is the first president of Egypt’s second republic or the fifth president of the republican Egypt. Yet any way we look at it, this is a historical event in three different ways.


Firstly, for the first time in Egypt’s history, the country’s government adheres to blatant religious-Islamist ideology. Secondly, the era of secular colonels who ruled Egypt since the 1950s has officially ended. Thirdly, for the first time in Egypt’s history, a president was elected in truly democratic elections.


The first two facts do not bode well from Israel’s point of view. An Islamist-ideological regime, as moderate as it may be and even if it does not impose Islamic Law on Egypt, will be hostile to Israel based on its very nature and worldview. This worldview sees the Middle East as “Dar al-Islam (The House of Islam) where there is no room for infidels like us, except as second-class subjects.


This is what happened in Iran in the 1970s and more recently in Turkey, Gaza and Tunisia. This will also be happening in Egypt, regardless of the ongoing power struggle between the Muslim Brotherhood and the generals of the Supreme Military Council.


The Muslim Brotherhood and its allies command the Egyptian street, which has turned into a force that dictates decisions on the domestic front. The Council fears the street and the Brotherhood, which for the time being is the only element capable of influencing the military rulers.


Yet another negative aspect from Israel’s point of view stems from the fact that Egypt is a leading political and cultural element and a model for emulation in the Arab world. The country’s political, religious and cultural history grants Egypt supremacy regardless of its economic or military power.


Hence, Egypt’s Islamization constitutes a very negative harbinger for secular regimes that rely on the army, not only in Lebanon and in Syria but also in Jordan and in the Palestinian Authority.


Heightened terror threat?

The same is true in respect to Israel. Should the Arabic domino effect continue to favor political Islam, the chance of securing a peace agreement with the Palestinians is nil. Moreover, under this state of affairs, the peace treaty with Jordan faces a significant threat, and we may also find various terror groups associated with the Brotherhood, the Salafists and Global Jihad on our borders with Syria and Jordan.


Indeed, it is no coincidence that Hamas’ leadership in Gaza was quick to celebrate Morsi’s appointment as president last week already, even before the official vote count ended.


The main positive aspect of the Egyptian vote from an Israeli point of view has to do with the Egyptian government becoming more democratic and more transparent than ever before. History shows that states boasting democratic regimes do not rush to declare war on each other. This fact has many reasons, among them the fact that democratic governments must be accountable to the people.


Hence, we can assume that should Egypt maintain a democratic process, more or less, the risk of an all-out war with Cairo will decline. However, this rule of thumb is mostly valid in the long run, and there is no certainty that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood will adopt Turkey’s Islamist model, rather than an Iran-style theocracy.


Part 2 of article to be published Monday evening



פרסום ראשון: 06.25.12, 11:27
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