Sunday, December 23, 2012

Islamist Egypt

While many in the West have been beguiled by the illusion of a democratic Egypt arising from the so-called Arab Spring, in fact the Egypt that is in formation is an Islamist one.  The final round of elections on the new constitution took place yesterday with every indication that the new constitution will be approved by a majority (ca. 60%) of the population.  Although Pres. Morsi of the Moslem Brotherhood rescinded his power grab giving himself absolute power following massive anti-Morsi demonstrations, nevertheless he went ahead with the vote on the constitution that he and the Constitutional Committee with a Moslim Brotherhood majority hurriedly drafted.  I have not read this dcoument, but from all accounts it makes Egypt into an Islamist State, with Sharia law and scant regard for human rights.
Paradoxically, at the same time Egypt has been adhering to the Peace Agreement with Israel and has been engaged in discussions to ensure that the ceasefire between Hamas in Gaza and Israel that Egypt mediated following Operation Pillar of Defense will remain in effect.  This requires Hamas to stop firing missiles into Israel, to stop attacks on the common border and also requires Israel to suspend all air strikes and targeted assassinations.  So far the ceasefire has been holding, even though its requirements not to allow arms to be smuggled into Gaza have not been implemented. 
But, Pres. Morsi, in his previous functions in the Moslim Brotherthood was responsible for anti-Zionist activities and has represented the MB's policy of regarding the Israel-Egypt peace treaty as being unfair to Egypt.  That is why they want to rescind it and this could be a major destabilizing action.  At present we do not know if Egypt under Pres. Morsi and the MB will in fact try to rescind or replace this Treaty, but a lot depends on what they do.  If after cementing his hold on power and implementing the new pro-Islamist Constitution, Morsi then decides to replace the Treaty, it could greatly upset the current balance of the Middle East.  If however, even with an Islamist State he decides to focus on domestic control rather than risk a foreign adventure, then there may be stability for some time to come. 


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