…here’s just a little list of what the Muslim Brotherhood would have available to it should it decide to engage in military adventurism, courtesy of 30 years of American military aid:
- 1,005 M-1 Abrams MBTs built in Egypt
- 201 M-109A5 Self-propelled 155mm howitzers
- Stinger missiles
- 240 F-16 fighters
- JDAM precision guided Mk 84 bombs
- 8 E-2C Hawkeye AWACs aircraft
- 47 AH-64D Apache gunship helicopters
- 4 Batteries of Patriot PAC-3 SAMs
Earlier this month we stood by and did nothing as Hizbollah took down a pro-Western Lebanese government. And there are now demonstrations in the streets in Jordan, led largely by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Iranians are crowing about the Egyptian revolt. There is a long connection between the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Iranian powers that be; in fact, the Khomeinists in Egypt were profoundly influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Michael Ledeen says our response to what’s going on in Egypt is eerily similar to what the Carter administration did during the Iranian revolution – waffling and indecision which ties the pro-American government (ugly and illegitimate though it may be) in knots and prevents it from dealing with the revolution.
We’re supporting the revolutionaries out of the optimistic idea that Jeffersonian democracy will break out up and down the Nile. In doing so, we’re helping to create a vacuum that will very likely be filled by a hostile, Islamist enemy. As Barry Rubin notes:
Remember the Iranian revolution when all sorts of people poured out into the streets to demand freedom? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is now president.
Remember the Beirut spring when people poured out into the streets to demand freedom? Hizballah is now running Lebanon.
Remember the democracy among the Palestinians and free elections? Hamas is now running the Gaza Strip.
Remember democracy in Algeria? Tens of thousands of people were killed in the ensuing civil war.
It doesn’t have to be that way but the precedents are pretty daunting.
Speaking of Hamas, Stratfor is reporting that Hamas gunmen are now streaming out of Gaza and into Egypt, setting up shop there with the intention of pushing the revolution in the direction of the Islamists.
How big a segment of the Egyptian population does the Muslim Brotherhood represent? Well, they managed 20 percent of the vote in the latest parliamentary elections despite the fact the government has harrassed and jailed their people for decades. And in a recent Pew poll the data on the Egyptian street is nightmarish…
The chances for democracy and liberalism are different in every country. Tunisia has a good chance because there is a strong middle class and a weak Islamist movement. But in Egypt look at the numbers in the latest Pew poll.
In Egypt, 30 percent like Hizballah (66 percent don’t). 49 percent are favorable toward Hamas (48 percent are negative); and 20 percent smile (72 percent frown) at al-Qaida. Roughly speaking, one-fifth of Egyptians applaud the most extreme Islamist terrorist group, while around one-third back revolutionary Islamists abroad. This doesn’t tell us what proportion of Egyptians want an Islamist government at home, but it is an indicator.
In Egypt, 82 percent want stoning for those who commit adultery; 77 percent would like to see whippings and hands cut off for robbery; and 84 percent favor the death penalty for any Muslim who changes his religion.
Asked if they supported “modernizers” or “Islamists” only 27 percent said modernizers while 59 percent said Islamists:
Is this meaningless? Last December 20 I wrote that these “horrifying figures in Egypt…one day might be cited to explain an Islamist revolution there….What this analysis also shows is that a future Islamist revolution in Egypt and Jordan is quite possible.
Mubarak isn’t a good guy. Our problem is that there are no good guys in Egypt for us to look to.
El Baradei is anything but a good guy. He’s made common cause with the Muslim Brotherhood, he looked the other way as Iran built its nuclear program and he’s said that he thinks Hamas ought to be recognized as the rightful rulers of Gaza, with all the international sanctions lifted. And yet we act like he’s an acceptable solution.
At this point we don’t seem to have any options other than to stand by and hope for the best. But a good rule for the Middle East and the Arab world is never to hope for the best; instead, envision the world possible outcome and do everything you can to prevent it from happening – because that’s what’s most likely.
As an aside, did anybody else notice over the weekend that American left-wing groups are in the streets celebrating the revolution in Egypt? One such group, Code Pink, has a long association with the Muslim Brotherhood.
This is a nightmare. Perhaps the best possible end is a violent crackdown by the Mubarak regime that puts the revolution down. That’s a bad end, of course, but if an Islamist, anti-American Egyptian regime were to take hold the chances for war against Israel – a war which would have two or even three fronts depending on whether Jordan’s government were to fall just as Lebanon’s has – become exponentially more likely.
Standing by, equivocating and watching might seem to be a reasonable thing for the administration to do. The result is likely to be disastrous.