An attempt is made to share the truth regarding issues concerning Israel and her right to exist as a Jewish nation. This blog has expanded to present information about radical Islam and its potential impact upon Israel and the West. Yes, I do mix in a bit of opinion from time to time.
Friday, May 24, 2013
Egypt and Other Islamist Systems: Will Despair Bring Moderation?
the expert on this issue, may I pose a question to you? I accept the
fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is messing up in Egypt - that they are
suffering a credibility gap between promise and performance. But could
this not also be positive in that in the process political Islam itself
gets discredited. You would recall the Islamist Revolution heralded by
Hasan al-Turabi in Sudan. However when I [met some of them] Turabi's own
students was critical about the Islamist revolution and indeed told me
there should now be a division between state and faith. Could a similar
development not happen in Egypt?”
is a clever point and it could certainly happen. Yes, by mismanaging
Egypt’s affairs the Brotherhood could become unpopular and be voted out
of office. To pose this as a question, Might Despair be Moderation’s
are examples of such things happening right now in Egypt, An
anti-Islamist media now exists to point out this
discontent though the opposition's power is sometimes over-estimated.
The mistaken lesson of the 2011 Egyptian revolution at the time was that
a lot of people protesting or voting equals democracy. Yet power
balances still matter. The old regime only fell because the old ruling
elite wouldn't save it due to exhaustion and factional conflict. The new
Islamist ruling elite won't make that mistake, at least for decades to
come. A recent poll shows how Egyptians are becoming understandably gloomy over the situation.
Egypt faces a huge economic crisis. The country has only about two
months' reserves to pay for imported food. Where is it going to get
around $5 billion a month to pay this bill? A proposed loan from the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) that would pay for one month or so is
being held up by the Egyptian government's refusal to sign the deal
because the IMF's conditions require cutting subsidies, and cutting
subsidies on food could lead to massive riots.
generally believe that repression and suffering leads to angry
responses by the masses. Yet institutions can control the situation,
reshapes beliefs, repression stifles opposition. Moreover, in Third
World countries, a predominantly poor people can--because they know they
have no choice in economic, political, and social terms--put up with a
lot more unhappiness and suffering than do middle class Americans or
Europeans who have the leisure, information, freedom, and luxury of
acting (albeit not necessarily effectively) on even minor complaints.
In short, dissatisfaction in Egypt doesn't necessarily mean change. Consider these factors:
usually leads to passivity. If the last revolution failed or was
disappointing are people going to want to mobilize for another one?
Isn’t the message that politics don’t work or the forces making the mess
are too strong? Thirty-four years after Iran's Islamist revolution a
lot of despair has only led to two peaks of moderate activity mthere.
The first was coopted (the Khatami presidency which achieved nothing);
the second was put down through repression (the 2009 Green Movement
after the regime stole an election). The Arab nationalist regime in
Egypt lasted for almost 60 years involving a lot of suffering and four
lost wars (Yemen, and against Israel in 1956, 1967, and 1973).
the time that the Brotherhood would be discredited it will be far more
entrenched in power and therefore harder to remove. Perhaps the future
elections will be fixed or not even held at all. The Brotherhood will,
for example, control the court system in future—doing so now is their
highest priority--and thus can guarantee electoral victories.
then, repression will set in deeper, discouraging open dissent.
Much of the time it is true that the heavier the penalty for speaking
out, the fewer who will do so. Even if you have a lot of discontented
people on your side it is not easy to moderate, much less, overturn an
of Iran (and this is quite interesting) during the past, especially in
the 1990s, it was argued that the visible failures of Iran’s revolution
would discourage other countries from having Islamist revolutions, And
at the time that did seem quite logical. Around the year 2000 the
Islamist movement was widely considered to have failed. Yet disastrous
precedents don't necessarily discourage revolutionary
Islamists who say, We can do it better! And it doesn't mean the masses
necessarily will not believe them, especially since Islam is such a
passionate, powerful force.
the highest goal of the Middle East peoples is democracy, freedom,
human rights, and material progress, the argument that these forces will
triumph might be plausible. But is that in fact true? Just because
people in the West think that way doesn’t make it accurate.
enthusiasm and religious passion may carry the day rather than the
school believes. Not every parent celebrates their kid becoming a
suicide bomber, for example, but a large number do. And even though they
might be angry about the children being misled by demagogues, they know
well enough not to speak publicly about it. Attacking a Christian
church also lets off a lot of steam as does blaming the Jews.
--Many people give up, thinking (or knowing) that there is no
real road immediately visible for transforming their societies into prosperous and democratic ones.
benefit materially by supporting a dictatorial regime. The government
better ensure that one of these groups are military officers.
is also often true that outside observers look at every specific
development in isolation,
ignoring the revolutionary rulers’ ideology and blueprint. With the
armed forces apparently determined to be passive, there is only one
effective institution holding back the Brotherhood: the courts. Judges
were appointed under the old regime, are largely secular, and many of
them showed pro-democratic independence even under the Mubarak
way or another, however, the Brotherhood is moving toward replacing the
judges by forcing them into retirement. And then the regime will name
its own judges who will interpret things the way the Brotherhood likes
as well as having a very high priority on making Sharia the law on most
aspects of life.
Here and here are two articles about the battles over the courts.
The same process will be happening in the schools, mass media, religious and other institutions,
finally reaching the entrance and promotion of Brotherhood sympathizers in the officer corps. Here's an editor arrested for exposing the creation of Islamist death squads to target oppositionists. Here's a
new law that would intensify government control over non-government
organizations, an issue that helped inspire the revolt against the old
regime. And this is a description of how Egyptians made desperate by the increase in crime are lynching criminals. And here you can read a
description of how most of the new cabinet ministers are Muslim
Brotherhood members. And here we see Ahmad Maher, a leader of the April 6
Youth Movement, which began the revolt and served as a Brotherhood ally
then, being arrested on his return to Egypt. [Maher, by the way, accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza a while back and
insisted that Egypt must intervene on behalf of the Islamist regime of
Hamas. This shows the lack of moderation by many of the supposedly
it is very sobering to consider the Sudan, my colleague’s example of
anger at an Islamist government leading to moderation. While the extreme
Islamists did become discredited there eventually, the process took
almost 25 years. Even today, the country is under an authoritarian
dictator. And it is very significant to note that Sharia law largely
continues to rule the country. The current Sudanese dictatorship, which
has been credibly accused of genocide against Black Africans in the
south, merely uses the pedestal provided by the Islamist predecessor. On
its behalf, the Muslim clerical association has just called for jihad against anti-government rebels.
is a more advanced country than Sudan and the Islamists there are badly
split. There are now four main Islamist parties in Egypt. Yet they can
also work together and are all pushing in the same direction. The
moderates are still weak even if you add in all the other non-Islamists
(including radical nationalists and leftists). And the opposition to
Islamism is more fragmented than the Islamists, lacking even an ideology
Remember, too, that the governmental responses to the factors of unpopularity and economic failure are demagoguery, the
scapegoating of foreigners, and international adventures.
as one resort, the Egyptian regime--unlike Iran or radical Syria-- now
enjoys the assistance of wealthier Western countries and international
while anger and despair are going to rise in Egypt these factors are
not in themselves enough to bring down a
regime. Unless the army is convinced that the country is going to fall
apart--and perhaps not even then--the Brotherhood is going to be in
power for a long time. And that also applies to everywhere else
Islamists are ruling--in the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkey, and
perhaps soon Syria.
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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 next
book, Nazis, Islamists and the Making of the Modern Middle East,
written with Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, will be published by Yale University
Press in January 2014. His latest book is Israel: An Introduction, also published by Yale. Thirteen of his books can be read and downloaded for free at thewebsite of the GLORIA Center includingThe Arab States and the Palestine Conflict, The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East andThe Truth About Syria. His blog is Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.