My previous comments still largely apply, although given the Egyptian High Court’s invalidation of parliament, a Muslim Brotherhood takeover is looking a lot less likely.
Posts Tagged ‘Muslim Brotherhood’
Some people have wondered why Egypt’s high court, doing the military leadership’s bidding, just invalidated the Egyptian parliament, even though the Muslim Brotherhood’s popularity, though strong, seemed to be on the wan. I think the simplest explanation is not that they were afraid of losing their grip on Egyptian society (though that’s probably part of the equation), but that the Egypt’s military leadership prefers not be be killed. I don’t mean this in a metaphorical sense, I mean that there was real (and probably justified) fear that a government lead by Muslim Brotherhood would lead, in very short order, to the liquidation of the military leadership. I think they were facing not one but two existential threats.
First, as shown in Turkey, when a nation’s existing military leadership also acts as an independent power base, islamists are only willing to tolerate potential threats to their own rule as long as they have to. Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s islamist AKP has moved to put vast swathes of Turkey’s previously independent military leadership on trail for blocking Islamist aims in the past. Egypt’s military is just as strong a power center (albeit one considerably less scrupulous than Turkey’s); how long do you think it would take the Muslim Brotherhood to move against the military leadership after they had consolidated power? My guess is not long at all, and the military knew it too.
Second, if we take the Muslim Brotherhood at their word, it’s obvious they’re itching for another war against Israel. And why not? They regard the “Zionist Entity” as a literal affront against God, one that must be wiped off the face of the earth. Moreover, what better way to tighten control over the levers of governmental powers than with a war against a hated enemy? There are are all sorts of ways to use “emergency wartime decrees” to eliminate opposition figures and seize direct control of businesses and ministries when everyone’s focused on the military action.
And who would bear the brunt of any war against Israel? The hated military. Win, and members of the Muslim Brotherhood government are heroes to Muslims all over the world. Lose, and it could only be attributable to traitorous disloyalty by the military leadership, which would be immediately purged.
And make no mistake about: Egypt would lose. Badly. No matter how they may try to spin the 1973 Yom Kipur War as a victory, the Egyptian military got it’s ass handed to it in all four of the Arab-Israeli Wars. The Six Day War was particularly brutal, with Israel destroying all the Arab air forces arrayed against it, most on the ground, and decisively crushing Egyptian forces in the Sinai while taking minimal casualties; they could even have taken Cairo were it not for frantic pleas of the U.S. and heavy threats from the Soviet Union. Egypt lost the Yom Kippur War as well, but actually managed to bloody Israel’s nose in the Sinai, using effective anti-tank tactics to inflict real damage on the IDF before being overwhelmed. This would be pretty much the only instance where an Arab army stood toe-to-toe with the IDF (even temporarily) until the 2006 war on Lebanon, which Hezbollah would survive despite being badly mauled.
The Egyptian military knows it would lose any war against Israel for the foreseeable future (even discounting Israel’s likely nuclear weapons arsenal), and it knows the best way to prevent one is to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from coming to power. Strangely enough, in this instance the Egyptian military leadership is actually acting in the best interests of the nation, even if the end result also happens to be saving their own hide.
“Egypt’s highest court declared the parliament invalid Thursday, and the country’s interim military rulers promptly declared full legislative authority.”
Well, things are about to get very interesting indeed. Does the Muslim Brotherhood think it can take on the army in a full-blown civil war? I tend to doubt it, if only because potential sources of money and arms outside the country are somewhat preoccupied with the Syrian civil war right now (on both sides). On the other hand, this is as close to real power as the Muslim brotherhood has ever tasted; they may not want to give up without a fight.
The Guardian is providing live updates.
Another week, another Jihad roundup. I’m not sure I can keep up…
(Hat tips: JihadWatch, Instapundit, Michael Totten, Creeping Sharia.)
Things have been relatively quiet on the Jihad front this week, but there’s always something happening:
(Hat tips: JihadWatch, Fark, Instapundit, Michael Totten, and the usual suspects.)
The latest from the beleaguered President of Egypt:
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has said he would like to resign immediately but fears the country would descend into chaos if he did so.
In his first interview since anti-government protests began, he told ABC News he was “fed up” with power.
It came as Cairo saw another day of violence with clashes between the president’s opponents and supporters.
Mr Mubarak warned that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood party would fill any power vacuum if he stepped down.
Mubarak is lying. Dictators almost never want to give up power, except to pass it on to their heirs. (There are exceptions, such as Turkey or Chile, where a military dictator stepped in to prevent a radical regime from inflicting further damage, only to step back and restore control once the danger (and the lives of some political opponents) had passed, but these are the exception rather than the rule.) If Mubarak was really tired of power, he could have stepped down any time in the last 30 years.
However, his statement that that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood party would fill the power vacuum are, sadly, probably true.
Hosni Mubarak seems to have adopted an interesting strategy to deal with the unrest gripping his country: Let the worst of it rage with a minimum of reprisals and crackdowns, and then slowly but surely reassert his control using the police and the military. Such a strategy walks the fine line between appearing weak enough to let the revolution push him out of power, and a Tienanmen-type crackdown that leaves thousands dead. So far it seems to be working: Despite some blips and waivers, the army still appears to be following Mubarak’s orders. If they continue to do so, it’s hard to see how the called-for general strike can be total enough to paralyze the nation. And if gas and food continue to make it through, it’s hard to see the general masses being radicalized enough to join the call to oust Mubarak.
Also, National Review reminds us that the Muslim Brotherhood is bad news.
The Egyptian military and internal security forces have coordinated a crackdown for the hours ahead in an effort to clear the streets of the demonstrators. The interior minister has meanwhile negotiated his stay for the time being, in spite of widespread expectations that he, seen by many Egyptians as the source of police brutality in the country, would be one of the first ministers that would have to be sacked in order to quell the demonstrations. Instead, both Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and al-Adly, the two main targets of ire for the demonstrators, seem to be betting that they can ride this crisis out and remain in power. So far, the military seems to be acquiescing to these decisions.
All the protest factions (including the Muslim brotherhood, who seem quite content to stay in the background for now) have settled on Mohamed ElBaradei as the leader and presumptive transition President should Mubarak fall. ElBaradei is reported to be at Tahrir Square.
Stratfor analyzes the Egyptian military, and the possibility that Islamist sympathizers exist within its ranks.
Here’s a Wall Street Journal report from two years ago on the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s (generally successful) attempts to suppress it.
Once again, the live update sources have changed: