Cairo and Damascus — always at the heart of Arab politics — are again starring in the real-life drama of Arab turmoil that the media’s idiot-savants called the “Arab Spring.” Somehow, the “Arab Spring” does not look so rosy.
Egypt may be the most important Islamic country, centrally located and equipped with thousands of advanced U.S. tanks and fighter jets. It is run by the extremist Muslim Brotherhood — an organization that essentially fathered al-Qaeda.
Egypt’s new leader, Muhammad Morsi, has decapitated the pro-U.S. heads of his army. He put large forces on his border with Israel, violating the treaty with Israel. Meanwhile, Egypt now flirts with Iran, catching Western intelligence flat-footed.
Syria, armed to the teeth with chemical and biological weapons, is splitting apart, and its weapons may fall into the hands Syria’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and rogue elements tied to al-Qaeda.
For decades, Egypt and Syria led the Arab world to militant nationalism and war. Briefly, Egypt and Syria came under the pan-Arab umbrella of Egypt’s Gamal Abdul-Nasser to produce “The UAR — The United Arab Republic.” Today, militant Islam unites them, and they might call themselves “The UJR — The United Jihadi Republic.”
Mass protest in Egypt and bloodshed in Syria did not bring the moderate democracy foreseen by Tom Friedman of The New York Times, Fareed Zakaria of CNN, or Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton of the USA.
Today, our “experts” and leaders have no answers, only pretense. President Obama and Secretary Clinton plan to meet Egypt’s Morsi in New York, after he meets again with Iranian leaders. They have not condemned Egyptian treaty violations.
Gen. James Clapper, who directs U.S. intelligence agencies, called the Brotherhood a “moderate” and “secular” organization with “franchises” throughout the Mid-East — a vision of a kind of Arab-Islamic McDonald’s.
But the Muslim Brotherhood wants fast results, not fast food. Anyone who says the Brotherhood is moderate or non-violent is offering us a Whopper.
Officially, the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty still exists, but Egypt has just remilitarized the Sinai Peninsula, violating the treaty. Supposedly, the Egyptian army is fighting terror in Sinai and then will remove its massive forces and weaponry. Those are fond hopes. As the Arabs say, inshallah — if God wills it.
Inside Egypt, the ancient Coptic Christian community faces tremendous violence. Scores of Copts have died, and thousands are fleeing the country. The U.S. is silent.
In Syria, the Brotherhood has not yet consolidated power. When it does, there may be a bloodbath beyond the 20,000 already killed. Over 300,000 refugees from Syria fled to nearby countries. Some flee what comes after the Assad regime.
Once again today, there is a certain ideological parallel in Egypt and Syria, because the Muslim Brotherhood is emerging as the main force in both countries.
That means that Israel’s northern and southern neighbors will be ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that is the ideological father of al-Qaeda and Hamas. The Brotherhood was founded by Hassan Banna in Egypt in 1928, and it took its name from the dreaded Ikhwan — the shock troops of the Wahhabi movement in Arabia.
Its express goal has not changed in 80 years — to overthrow “corrupt” Arab regimes and to install Islamic law and practice as close as possible to the model of Muhammad ruling in Mecca and Medina (where no Jews or Christians are allowed to live).
In other words, the Brotherhood was founded before Israel existed, before America went into Iraq and Afghanistan, etc. Keep all these facts in mind, because the same Western prophets who foresaw an Arab Spring are now going to offer the following predictions, prescriptions, and excuses:
- The Brotherhood leaders in Egypt and Syria are really moderate democrats and can be coaxed into staying moderate and at peace with Israel, the U.S., etc. through continued American aid.
- Coaxing the Brotherhood to remain moderate will succeed only if Israel unilaterally withdraws from the West Bank and most of Jerusalem. If Israel does not meet these just demands, it will have no one to blame for the results but itself.
- In Syria, the Brotherhood will stay moderate only if Israel pulls back immediately from the entire Golan Heights
- If the Brotherhood — in Egypt or Syria — turns “militant,” it will be only because Israeli built more settlements or attacked terrorists in Sinai and Gaza, or because the U.S. antagonized the Brothers by helping Israel.
Just remember that all these prescriptions and excuses are what the Arabs call kalaam fadi — “empty talk.” There is no real way to coax the Brotherhood to be moderate for long, because being moderate is not in its nature.
The Arab Spring went by fast. Start singing “Stormy Weather.” We may soon see the UJR — the United Jihadi Republic.
Dr. Michael Widlanski, an expert on Arab politics and communications, is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat, published by Threshold/Simon and Schuster. He was strategic affairs adviser in Israel’s Ministry of Public Security and teaches at Bar Ilan University.