Muslim Brotherhood Wins Presidency; Egyptian-Islamist/Hamas Jihad Against Israel (Apparently) Begins
So far this year, 280 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. This has prompted no international concern or action. The new fence along the Egypt-Israel border is mostly complete, but due to difficult terrain the last portion will only be finished late this year.
At any rate, we are now at the beginning of Egypt’s involvement, directly or indirectly, in a new wave of terrorist assault on Israel. If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Egypt — a likelihood made less probable perhaps by the military’s dissolution of parliament — this offensive will enjoy official support. Even if the army remains in control, the Brotherhood and Salafists will use their considerable assets to back this new insurgency war.
The ultimate scenario would be if Hamas decided to renew a large-scale offensive against Israel from the Gaza Strip using rockets, mortars, and attempted cross-border attacks. Egyptian Islamists would send volunteers and money. The Egyptian army would not be scrupulous in stopping the smuggling of weapons, terrorists, and money across the border. As Egyptian fighters are killed in the Gaza Strip, the hysteria in Egypt would escalate.
In such a scenario, the army would also allow Hamas to have military bases and headquarters on Egyptian territory — where Israel could not attack them. Indeed, this is already happening. And the Egypt-Israel border would not be protected from cross-border attacks.
A most serious scenario would be if Egypt itself was dragged (under an army regime) or went willingly (under a Brotherhood one) to war with Israel.
At the same time, however, that’s a longer-term perspective. The army is almost certain to remain in power for the next year. The Brotherhood is not taking over Egypt at this point. That is the effect of the military’s coup: the president has no power.
If I were to speculate — and forgive me if I’m wrong on this point — here’s how I see the timetable:
– The army stays in power and announces a parliamentary election near the end of this year or early 2013.
– After the election, if it is held, the parliament would be given six months to write a new constitution. That puts us into mid-2013.
– If there is a lot of violence and conflict, the military might at some point suspend elections, and here we are back in 1952 with a “new” military regime in power for many years. I don’t see the Islamists defeating the army in a battle.
– Might there be a deal in which the Brotherhood gets limited governing power in return for doing what the army wants on key issues? Maybe.
Of course, everything here is unprecedented and unpredictable.
Where is the U.S. government in all of this? Insisting that the Egyptian military turn power over to a civilian government, which until last week would have been a Brotherhood government. Washington is merely a distant observer, and one continuing to insist on Muslim Brotherhood moderation despite that group’s extremist history and actions. The policy choice taken by Obama is to issue statements supporting democracy and to view the Brotherhood as a force that can be co-opted and moderated. The mass media generally follows this lead in setting the narrative.
A different president would understand that the Islamists are the enemy of America, and would support the military in trying to limit their power. This distinction matters, big time. It helps determine not only the fate of U.S. interests, but also the future of 80 million Egyptians, Israel’s security, and the likelihood of further upheavals and wars in the Middle East.