Amid fears of the rising influence of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization in post Mubarak Egypt, the county’s Military Council suggested that the Egyptian military would not allow “religious extremists” to rule Egypt.
“Egypt’s military rulers have said they will not allow religious ‘extremist factions’ to control the country, the Al Masry Al Youm newspaper reported Tuesday.
“‘Egypt will not be ruled by another Khomeini,’ members of Supreme Council of the Armed Forces were quoted in the report as saying at a meeting with newspaper editors.”
This suggests that the Egyptian military will play a political role even after elections later this year occur, putting in a civilian government. This announcement may allay some fears of an Islamist dominated Egypt, hard on the border with Israel, occupying the Suez Canal.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the Middle East’s oldest terrorist organization, has seen its popularity rise after the fall of Hosni Mubarak. Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen have demanded, for example, a formation of an Egyptian “modesty police” to enforce public behavior by Egyptians, similar to Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Even more ominously, Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the leaders of the uprising that overthrew Mubarak, rumored to be affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, and a candidate for president of Egypt, has announced that he would declare war on Israel if Israel were to attack Gaza. This would mean a scrapping of the Camp David Peace Accord and a return of Egypt to the status of an enemy of Israel.
The idea of a hostile Egypt, antagonistic to both the United States and Israel, ruled by Sharia Law, is a nightmare that keeps western diplomats awake at night. By announcing that the Egyptian military will not permit that to occur, the military council is attempting to allay those fears.
Egypt would be hurt very badly by a shift in its diplomatic stance. Much of its balance of trade is provided by tourism, both to the familiar sights such as the Pyramids and the Temple of Karnak, but also to new Red Sea resorts where tourists from both the Middle East and Europe travel to relax. An Islamist Egypt would find itself without that kind of tourism that pours hard currency into the Egyptian economy.
Worse, Egypt would very likely lose any conflict with Israel, bereft as it would be of American support. It would lose the Sinai for the third time in its history and this time it would not get it back as easily as it did before. The Sinai would be a buffer between a hostile Egypt and the Israeli homeland. It also has oil reserves that Israel would find useful to develop.
Hence, it is not surprising that the Egyptian military, which would bear a lot of the brunt of such a policy, has announced that it has veto over it.
Sources: We will not allow ‘another Khomeini’ to take control of Egypt, army says, Haaretz, April 5, 2011
Post-Mubarak Egypt has Islamists calling for modesty police, David E. Miller, The Jerusalem Post, April 4, 2011
ElBaradei: We’ll fight back if Israel attacks Gaza, Ynet, April 4, 2011