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EGYPT- ISLAM IS NOT THE SOLUTION!

Anti-Morsi demonstrators marching in Cairo on June 28, 2013. (photo credit: Lilian Wagdy)

Is Egypt now teetering on the brink of civil war after the army's overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi? Al Qaeda leader Ayman Mohammed al-Zawahiri says 'Yes', and has declared, 'The campaign for Egypt is not over, it has just begun!'. Now hiding in exile, the Egyptian born al-Zawahiri has sounded this battle cry to his fellow Egyptians: 'The revolution in Egypt must continue, and the (Sunni) Islamic nation must be prepared to make sacrifices'. Egypt has become the focal point of the drive for power by radical Islamist movements in the current Arab Spring. The outcome of the confrontation in Egypt could have far reaching consequences, not only for Israel, but throughout the entire Islamic world. 

In Egyptian controlled Sinai, al-Qaeda and other Jihadists, who back Morsi, have launched a series of raids on Egyptian Army positions, killing and wounding a number of security personnel.

 Egypt is reeling after the stunning military coup led by Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Fatah al-Sisi that has overthrown Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi. Dozens of his Muslim Brothers have been killed, and hundreds more in the subsequent bloody clashes with the Egyptian Army and secular Egyptians. In Egyptian controlled Sinai, al-Qaeda and other Jihadists, who back Morsi, have launched a series of raids on Egyptian Army positions, killing and wounding a number of security personnel. Egypt, the largest Arab state is now 'the sick man on the Nile'. In Jerusalem, Israeli leaders refrained from any comment that could be construed as intervening in the current political firestorm that is sweeping Egypt. But, it can be said that Israel is breathing a sigh of relief that Morsi and his radical Muslim Brotherhood have been toppled. 

 Islam is not the solution...

…not only has the economy continued its free-fall, but Morsi angered the more secular Eyptians by focusing on an Islamist constitution, appointing Muslim Brothers to key positions, and trying to bring the Egyptian Army under his sway.

 After his election over a year ago, Morsi failed to deliver the goods. Most Egyptians are even worse off today than they were before. The Muslim Brotherhood rose to power on the slogan of 'Islam is the solution' for curing the poverty-stricken nation. But, not only has the economy continued its free-fall, Morsi angered the more secular Egyptians (who spearheaded the anti-Mubarak revolution in 2011) by focusing on an Islamist constitution, appointing Muslim Brothers to key positions, and last but not least, by trying to bring the Egyptian Army under his sway. These were the ingredients for igniting the big political explosion, a counter-revolution that has forced the Islamists out of office. The deftness of the military coup raises suspicion that Gen. al-Sisi may have been working hand in glove in organizing the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood. Just look at Egypt's vital statistics:

  • Population- 82,000,000 with one million more babies to feed every year
  • Annual per capita income: $2,800
  • Rampant unemployment
  • Little foreign investment
  • Steady deterioration in already poor health care and social services

 Economic outlook: going from bad to worse - so is it any wonder that a majority of Egyptians reached the conclusion: 'Islam is not the answer!'  

 What happens now?

President Morsi (right) and General al-Sisi (left) with visiting U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (center) on April 24, 2013. Al-Sisi, later sanctioned the removal of Morsi. (photo credit: Secretary of Defense)

 After Gen. al-Sisi arrested President Morsi for 'failing to meet the demands of the Egyptian people', Muhammed Badie, the movement's spiritual leader told hundreds of thousands of Muslim Brothers in Cairo's Freedom Square, 'We will not back down and we will return until President Morsi is returned to his rightful office!'. On this score, Al-Sisi stressed that the Egyptian Army has no intention of administering the country. With this in mind, he appointed Adly Monsour as provisional president until an early election can be held. 

 

 

 

 Ramifications for Israel...  

'The Egyptian Army will now be able to take on the radical Islamists in Sinai who threaten Israel because it will not have to give an explanation to a Muslim Brotherhood government back in Cairo'

 'The Egyptian Army will now be able to take on the radical Islamists in Sinai who threaten Israel because it will not have to give an explanation to a Muslim Brotherhood government back in Cairo' - that is the assessment of IDF Gen. (ret) Amos Yadlin, the former commander of military intelligence. Indeed, the expanse of Sinai has become a mini-Afghanistan, an almost no man's land, which has attracted al-Qaeda, the Salafist movement, and other militants from all over the Middle East. But if the Egyptian Army is hard-pressed to maintain law and order across Egypt, it might not have the necessary forces to available to deploy in Sinai. On the other hand, the Palestinian Hamas government in Gaza may pay dearly for betting on the wrong horse, Mohamed Morsi. However, bearing in mind that Hamas is the Palestinian offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood, it could not have been otherwise. There is certainly no love lost between the Egyptian military and Hamas and the Jihadists who recently killed sixteen Egyptians soldiers. The Islamist terrorists gunned down the Egyptians in an ignominious raid, catching them off-guard during prayers. Hamas was already in hot water with its former sponsor Iran as a result of the Hamas decision to support the Syrian rebels against Assad. 

...the Egyptian High Command has played a very responsible role in preserving not only the peace treaty with Israel, but possibly preventing a bloody civil war on the scale of Syria.

 A state of emergency has been enforced both in the Suez Canal zone and southern Sinai. While Morsi froze all political contact with Israel after taking office, this was not the case with the Egyptian Army which maintains close coordination with the IDF. The Egyptian Army has also blocked most of the underground tunnels from Sinai into the Gaza Strip, purportedly by flooding them with sewage water. An indicator of the close cooperation was Israel's approval for the Egyptian Army to deploy additional forces in Sinai, above the demilitarization accord, to cope with the Jihadists.  

While Morsi froze all political contact with Israel after taking office, this was not the case with the Egyptian Army which maintains close coordination with the IDF.

 At least one Israeli commentator has raised the possibility that Egypt might attempt to deflect attention from the domestic turmoil to the tension between Gaza and Israel. One scenario could be Cairo's cajoling Hamas to launch more rockets at Israel thereby triggering an Israeli response and a new flare-up. However, the Egyptian military is well aware that this could torpedo any hope for future American and Western aid. Moreover, the Egyptian High Command has played a very responsible role in preserving not only the peace treaty with Israel, but possibly preventing a bloody civil war on the scale of Syria. Consider this: after the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood won the general election, fair and square, but by less than one percent. As was widely predicted in Israel, the Muslim Brotherhood was far better organized than anyone else to win. But even then, it just squeaked in because many Egyptian voters did not have any viable candidate, other than a former Mubarak crony. In other words, they voted for Morsi in order to get rid of the Mubarak man. 

 Is there a solution?...   

Protest at Tahrir Square, Egypt (photo credit: Jonathan Rashad)

 But that's all history. What can the international community do now to help out Egypt as it may be dangerously close to a civil war?  After giving Mubarak the boot in 2011, the Obama administration is cautious. On one hand, America's democratic DNA categorically rejects military coups against elected governments. In fact, U.S. law prohibits the granting of financial aid to any such country. But on the other hand, after witnessing the vitriol of the gigantic protests by the rival camps in Freedom Square, Egypt's only hope may be that the Army may prevent the outbreak of a terrible civil war. One possibility could be that the U.S. work with Gen. al-Sisi on a deal for an international aid package in return for the Army's commitment to step aside after the formation of a coalition of secular and Islamist forces that would work for an economic recovery. Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Sunni states in the Gulf certainly have a vested interest in seeing an Egyptian recovery that would deal a severe blow to al Qaeda and radical Islam. Granted it's a long shot, but it will be up to the Egyptians to now step back from the brink before it's too late. 

David Essing

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