Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - Egypt is fast devolving into chaos. The street fighting has left hundreds dead and wounded. Christian churches have been set ablaze and Christians fear for their lives. The Egyptian military has already begun to take the severe actions that they threatened against the masses in the streets who support deposed president Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Reverting to the brutal tactics of previous rulers, they have been rounding up leaders of the Brotherhood, in an effort to restore order,and firing on crowds of anti-government demonstrators.
The situation continues to deteriorate. Egypt, which was once the symbol of stability in the Arab world, is now the poster child for the failure of the region to realize the democratic dreams of those who first demonstrated for revolution.
Significantly, the Muslim Brotherhood is finally showing its true face to the world. After years of protesting that they were a peaceful organization, uninterested in political power, they have now raised their hands in violence against those whom they hold responsible for their loss of political power. Once the military deposed Morsi and put a new civilian government in place, they discarded their facade as a ‘peaceful’ organization and returned to the sword depicted on their logo. They urged their supporters to go into the streets with guns, clubs, and whatever other weapons they could find to “fight for Islam”, embodied in Morsi’s return to power. Chanting, “Our souls, our blood, with that we defend Islam”, followers of the Muslim Brotherhood have poured into the streets by the thousands, firing their guns, attacking tanks, setting vehicles on fire, and defying the army’s efforts to restore order.
In the wake of the renewed violence, Vice President Mohammed El Baradei has resigned, saying he cannot be “responsible for one drop of blood”, and veteran Sky News cameraman, 61-year old Micky Deane was shot to death by a sniper, suggesting that journalists may have also become targets.
Not unexpectedly, the American response, coming from the President’s vacation site on Martha’s Vineyard, was vague and weak. Speaking for the President, White House deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that the Egyptian interim government “must respect human rights of their people”, denying that there was any ambiguity in the American position. No doubt the message has fallen on deaf ears. The chances that this half-hearted remarks will have any impact whatever on the Egyptian government is non-existence. The violence, once begun, is likely to run its course, and the sides will not stop themselves for a plea to respect anyone’s rights.
America’s foreign policy in the Middle East has been to either side with Islamist factions, including al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, or to take no position at all. The administration sided with Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood until after the coup that deposed Morsi’s government, and then took a neutral position, refusing to call the action a “coup”.
Little has been said about the loss to the world of the stability which Egypt represented under the rule of Hosni Mubarak. On the contrary, he was demonized and his overthrow was hailed as a victory for democracy. But as GerardDirect observed at the beginning of the revolution, Mubarak’s government maintained a peaceful, if not friendly, relationship with its neighbor, Israel, and was an ally to the West. By living up to Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, Mubarak was able to maintain a stable coexistence throughout his presidency. Morsi, prior to his election, was on record as wanting to abbrogate the peace treaty and “march on Jerusalem”.
Meanwhile Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Libya have become hotbeds of terror, and jihadis from Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the Muslim world are flooding into those areas to join the fight for radical Islam. The combustible environment gets increasingly unstable every day. Over 100,000 have already died in Syria, including civilians who have been tortured and murdered in cold blood by fighters on all sides of the conflict.
In Libya, the presence of al Qaeda continues to be felt, without any repercussions from the US. America’s lack of leadership throughout the region contributes to the chaos, as Egypt becomes the latest failing state, to be followed shortly, we predict, by Jordan and Lebanon.
Sitting in the middle of all this violence is Israel, still the only stable democratic nation in the region, may have to defend itself against a tide of terrorism emanating from all of its neighbors, with little help from the one nation supposed to be its greatest ally – the US. The President has adopted a public laissez faire policy, supported by strategic leaks and lofty pronouncements. At the same time, the US is actively supplying weapons and supplies to ‘rebel’ groups, including al Qaeda linked organizations. The US no longer has any influence, so we are trying to buy our way into the “minds and hearts” of the terrorists by funding them and providing them with weapons of war, leaving our true ally, Israel, to fend for itself. This policy can only make the situation worse, since it has historically been the deterrent of a strong America, coupled with Israel’s daunting military power and peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, that have helped to keep the region relatively calm over the last thirty years.
Today’s alarming escalation of violence in Egypt may well serve as added tinder in an already highly flammable region. The lack of a strong American deterrent will allow the current situation, unchecked by the threat of a strong American response, to deteriorate rapidly. Unchecked, terrorists will be empowered and those whose goal it is to overthrow democratic systems and submit them to Shariah law is likely to spread like wildfire.