I would add to Aaron's concerns regarding the evolving shape and stature of Egyptian democracy an ominous warning issued by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), presaging the Muslim Brotherhood's decision to field el Shater:
"We ask everyone to be aware of the lessons of history to avoid mistakes from a past we do not want to return to, and to look towards the future."
I'd hazard that the warning can be read one of two ways. First, as some Islamist leaders in Egypt are suggesting, it can be understood as a thinly veiled allusion to Nasser's elimination of the MB in 1954. On the other hand, it could be suggestive of the SCAF's unease about their grip on power… not to mention their considerable financial holdings.
In terms of domestic politics, the Brotherhood currently controls approximately 50% of the Egyptian Parliament. If they were to capture the executive office, the movement could threaten the ruling junta's significant business interests -- which are currently shielded from government oversight. A win at the ballots would mean MB control of the parliament, the constitutional assembly and the presidency…not to mention the bank vaults, national industries and corporate rentiers that line the pockets of the strongest and most enduring elements of Mubarak-era oligarchy.
If we're prognosticating worst case scenarios…complete MB control of the mechanics of government rings in right behind the SCAF's dissolution of the parliament or preclusion of the presidential elections, which would likely entail violent reprisal and potential state fracture.
Of course, the Obama administration's decision to flagrantly ignore Congressional conditions for aid to our "allies" in Egypt removed any leverage the United States held to press the Cairene cabal to meet the demands of civilian rule, transparent election and the protections of free speech and assembly.
So either way you cut it, we're stuck supporting the mullahs or the generals… all on the American tax-payer's dime.
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