Friday, May 25, 2012

NEWS FLASH: Muslim Brotherhood Claims Victory in Egypt Presidential Election

Barry Rubin
This article is based on Muslim Brotherhood statements and leaks. The information may not be accurate. We will not know for sure until Sunday when official tallies are provided.

According to the Brotherhood, the uncompleted vote counting for president looks like this.

Mohamed Mursi (Brotherhood) 28.4 percent
Ahmed Shafiq (Mubarak era general) 24.6
Abdul Moeim Abul Fotouh (so-called “moderate Islamist” but supported by radical Islamist Salafists)  18.1
(Hamdeen Sabahi (radical anti-American “left” Nasserist) 17.1%
Amr Moussa (radical nationalist pragmatist) 11.6%.

The Brotherhood claims that this means it will win the second round. I’m not 100 percent sure but it seems very possible. A second round would be a straight contest between a secularist and an Islamist. How would voters choose?

After all, according to this the total Islamist vote is around 46 percent, not enough to win. The question would be where would the Sabahi voters go? (I am skeptical he could have gotten so many votes but we will see.)
Here are the two key points, assuming these numbers are correct:

--Once again we have been misled by “experts” and media who slanted coverage toward the alleged popularity of Abul Fotouh.  They should have backed secularists and not “moderate Islamists.” There should be some apologies and rethinking but of course that won’t happen.

--Egyptian/Arab nationalism has revived, receiving about 52 percent of the vote! And that means Shafiq could win.
Again: Caution, this is based on figures that might not be accurate.

IF MURSI BECOMES PRESIDENT (winning second round run-off):

Remember that he and the Brotherhood are now not even trying to hide their extremism, openly demanding an immediate Sharia state and a Caliphate.

This would set off a crisis that will dominate the region for a decade or two. This would be a catastrophe equal to and perhaps greater than the Iranian revolution. No exaggeration. If there isn't a war with Israel within three years (Hamas backed by Egypt or even involving Egypt) it would be a miracle.

Note that what's most important is not the presidency in isolation but:

--Brotherhood control over parliament and president and writing constitution.

--Brotherhood triumphalism, which we have seen repeatedly, belief in victory leading to arrogance and more extremism.

There will be panic. Christians and liberals will start packing their bags.

IF SHAFIQ BECOMES PRESIDENT (winning second round run-off):

The Brotherhood and Salafists would still control parliament and constitution-writing, making for a relatively weak president. But Shafiq would try to limit the radicalism, maintain good relations with the United States, and avoid war with Israel.

If the military backed him—and that makes sense—he would be strong and might succeed.

In this case, though, watch for three things:

--The Brotherhood and Salafists will make life hard for Shafiq. There will be street violence and terrorism against Christians, “modern” women, liberals, tourists, and foreign installations. Will Shafiq call out soldiers to put down each disorder through repression? Would Obama and Europe back him or condemn the military as repressive and undermining democracy?

--The Islamists would help Hamas and very possibly try to stir up a Hamas-Israel conflict in which hysteria would sweep Egypt to fight Israel, painting Shafiq as a traitor for holding back?

--As the economic situation deteriorates, they would blame Shafiq and stir up disorder against him.
Again, remember that a constitution could well be written providing for a strong parliament and prime minister alongside a weak president. That would subvert the election results.

Note: this story will be updated as needed


Professor Barry Rubin, Director, Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center
The Rubin Report blog
He is a featured columnist at PJM 
Editor, Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal

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