Monday, June 13, 2011

US and Egyptian activists trying to delay Egypts elections

Egypt is a Muslim country. While it has a larger population of minority religions, Islam is fundamentally approximately as important in Egypt's national life as it is in Iran's. Islam is far more important in Egypt's national life than Christianity is in US life. An accountable government of Egypt is going to reflect Islam's importance to the people of that country.

The United States and some seemingly westernized secular activists in Egypt seem opposed to the idea of Egyptians being able elect leaders who represent their values. The United States by offering aid and communicating to Egypt's current military dictatorship that the aid is contingent on freezing Islamist influences from political power, the activists through a number of suggestions to delay elections.

Unlikely in the first election, but in future elections these Westernized Egyptian activists may form the core of a movement similar to that of Iran's Green Movement which, probably in coordination with outside forces hostile to Iran, put forward an evidence-free narrative of stolen elections that ultimately lead to pointless destruction and loss of life.

Nobody in power in Egypt has so far expressed sympathy with either the US goals of denying Islamist parties participation in government or the activist goal of delaying elections. There have been repeated expressions of the desire of the army to return to the barracks and remove itself from what should be a civilian political process.

Just as the US has been working behind the scenes to convince Iraq to host US troops after the expiration of the current status of forces agreement between the US and Iraq, the US is working to pressure Egypt's colonial military dictatorship to remain in power. Unlike in Iraq, we have not yet seen expressions that the Americans consider their efforts successful.

There is a competition of forces in Egypt, and the results of that struggle will be much clearer in September. Until then, Egypt and the entire Middle East are waiting.


Lysander said...

I don't think the Muslim Brotherhood enjoys that much support. In a parliamentary system, they would certainly be an influential king maker party. In a winner take all presidential system, they could not win the presidency and for this upcoming election, they are not even trying. Two points I would make:

1) In the West "Muslim Brotherhood" is sort of a catch all phrase that refers to anyone opposing US/Israeli policies. But the fact is, Egyptian leftists, labor unions (who tend to be very anti-MB) feminists, Wafdists, etc ALL oppose US/Israeli policies with equal or greater vehemence than the MBs

2) I do not trust the MB leadership. I suspect they would cut a deal with the west if it helped put them in power. They would gladly make Egypt a Saudi Arabia without oil. Pious on the outside, corrupt on the inside and collaborationist to boot. (I don't think they will succeed, but I think they might try)

The west does not seem to mind an Islamic style government in SA, even though it is much more restrictive than Iran or anywhere else for that matter. Whe was the last time you heard a major western politician demand that SA cut back a bit on be-headings and floggings or allow women to drive? My fear is that the MB leadership (perhaps not the grass roots) would happily look for a deal like the Saudis have.

Arnold Evans said...

"My fear is that the MB leadership (perhaps not the grass roots) would happily look for a deal like the Saudis have."

I don't fear that just because I don't think the Saudis could win contested elections.

From what I can see, there is an Egyptian consensus post Mubarak that the next political system should have regular contested elections, and if that is the case, I expect to see Egypt stabilize as an independent country.

I know the United States wants to see Egypt accountable to the US congress rather than the people of Egypt, the way Egypt is now along with other colonies of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others, but I don't see how the US could pull that off (in Egypt or any of its colonies) with regular contested elections.

The US uses the term "Islamist" to represent any anti-American party but there is also the issue that it is impossible for a Muslim country to prevent religious people from having some degree of organization, and religious people in the Middle East, only because of Zionism, have a strong tendency to be anti-American.

Which means that every Middle Eastern society, because of Zionism will have at least one organized anti-American faction that will be difficult or impossible to keep out of competitive politics.

I'm starting to think that today this is a stronger factor because there was a more prevalent idea in the 1950s through 1980s that Islam makes a society "backward". I think Iran and more recently Turkey have done a lot to dispel that, which undercuts the rationale for keeping religious people out of politics.

I don't think there is an Egyptian societal consensus that people like the Muslim Brotherhood should not be in politics today while there might have been more during Nasser and Sadat's times.

Unless religious people are not allowed to compete in elections, and I see no indication that Egypt will sign on to that, despite US hopes, I don't see Egypt as Saudi Arabia without oil but with elections as possible.

George Carty said...

In my view you can't be an "Islamist" unless you want in institute Shari'ah Law. Then again I've never heard anyone describe the Saudi regime as "Islamist"...

Arnold Evans said...

The US opposition to Islamists is not due to opposition to Sharia law in Muslim countries. The US opposes parties coming to power that would direct resources against Israel.

Today, the catch-all phrase for parties that would do that, especially if they have any religious basis at all, is Islamist.

Other than that, the US literally could not care less what type of law political parties would impose on their own people. Or that people would vote to live by.