The only certainty in Egypt these days is that Hosni Mubarak is out. Whether it happens in the next few days, or in several months, his time is up. What isn’t certain, is what the future holds for Egypt and the rest of the world without the dictator that has been an ally of the West and a much-needed element of stability in the region.
Barack Obama and other world leaders are urging Mubarak to step aside and allow democratic reforms. This may seem a noble goal, but little thought is being given to who will succeed the Egyptian strongman. Any successor he might name himself would likely be unacceptable to those demanding change, and after thirty years in office he has few political rivals.
The group best positioned to take control of the government is the Muslim Brotherhood, and though banned from holding political office themselves, they get around this by running as independents. Their current strategy is the backing of Mohamed ElBaradei, who is emerging as the main opposition leader.
ElBaradei hasn’t spent much time in Egypt in recent years. In fact he has been out of the country since 1964, devoting many of those years to heading the United Nations nuclear inspection program. Despite being part of an organization that requires political neutrality, he says Israel is “the number one threat to the Middle East,” and attacks America and Israel for the “civilian carnage” they cause.
The Muslim Brotherhood, although claiming to oppose violence to achieve their goals, seem to limit this non-violent philosophy only to Jihad against the corrupt Western democracies. They agree with ElBaradei that Israel is the enemy, and must be destroyed by any means possible. Speaking for the Brotherhood, Muhammad Ghannem stated that “the people should be prepared for war against Israel,” saying the world should understand that “the Egyptian people are prepared for anything to get rid of this regime.”
The United States has backed Mubarak by providing Egypt with one of the largest arsenals in this part of the world, and if it falls into the hands of the extremists war is inevitable. Peace is always precarious in the Middle East, and a stable ally of America willing to respect a peace accord with Israel has been instrumental in maintaining a delicate balance of power.
The Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t limit its activities to the Arab world. They have established themselves as a political force throughout Europe, especially in Germany, by employing the same strategy currently being used in Egypt (the backing of respected candidates). Americans shouldn’t be deluded into thinking that they don’t have ambitions on this side of the ocean. They see their work here as a Jihad aimed at destroying our culture and replacing all religions with Islam. While they may not support terrorism against the West, there is no question that they seek our destruction.
President Obama is increasingly forceful in urging Hosni Mubarak to step aside. Given the present alternatives, this haste is likely a mistake. The most likely successor will be the Muslim Brotherhood, and with this group’s attitude towards Egypt’s neighbor, Israel, and its formidably armed military, the consequences will be catastrophic.
If The Muslim Brotherhood succeeds in Egypt, other Islamic countries in a state of crisis could prove easy pickings. Western leaders, instead of hastening events in Egypt, might be better off using what diplomatic influence they have to try to stabilize the situation long enough to buy some time for other leaders to emerge.