Monday, January 31, 2011

Flash: Egyptian "Moderate Democratic" Leader Negotiating Coalition Government With Islamists

Barry Rubin

As I've been warning, Muhammed al-Baradei, seen as the leading "moderate, pro-democratic" leader in Egypt is negotiating with the Muslim Brotherhood to form a national unity government. That doesn't mean the negotiations will succeed but it gives a clear glimpse of what a post-Mubarak regime Egypt would mean.

If you believe that al-Baradei, with no real political experience or any organized movement behind him, can dominate the Muslim Brotherhood, I have a bridge over the Nile I'll sell you. Let's assume that al-Baradei became Egypt's president. The Muslim Brotherhood might get key ministries such as education and social welfare, transforming large sectors of Egyptian society, putting thousands of their supporters into key positions, and consolidating power for the next step.

What effect would such a coalition have on Egypt's policy toward the United States and Israel? Would U.S. economic aid and military sales continue to such a regime? One of the new government's first steps would be to end all sanctions to the Gaza Strip, allowing weapons and terrorists to flow there freely.

This development shows precisely why the existing regime should be preserved--without Mubarak and with some reforms--rather than overthrown.

There should be no more illusions about what's happening in Egypt. If the Brotherhood is so weak, why is it the proposed partner in the next government?

The key factor now is the army, which al-Baradei--with no good prospects of it happening--hopes to win over. Will the army support Mubarak, get rid of him and preserve the regime, or remain passive and watch as a revolution happens?

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at and of his blog, Rubin Reports,

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