Last Friday, Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak stepped down. And almost everyone I know — whether talking heads on the news or friends on the telephone — was in high celebration mode. But I couldn’t join them. I still can’t.
What exactly is everyone celebrating?
Yes, Mubarak was a despot who denied his countrymen democracy for the last 30 years. But until last month he was among our closest and most important allies in the Middle East. Have we been pursuing an immoral policy for three decades? If yes, where are the mea culpa’s from those who were so chummy with Mubarak until so recently? How is it that President Obama is as sanctimonious today as he was when he called our Iraq war — to depose a far worse tyrant — “stupid.”
Yes, all people deserve democracy. Yet I’ve been lectured over and over on the fact that democracy is a long process. It takes time to develop democratic institutions. George Bush was foolish, I am told, to try to impose democracy on the Middle East too quickly. Where are all of these pragmatic critics now? It seems that they are out celebrating the birth of instant democracy in Egypt ….
What’s important is not who wins the battle today. What truly matters is who ultimately emerges with power in Egypt. And as of today we have absolutely no idea who this will be. Will our Google hero Wael Ghonim and his friends emerge as the leaders of a brave new democracy? Or will they be among the first executed by the new despots who ultimately seize power?
We have seen this movie before. After a similar middle class revolt in Iran in 1979, the fanatics who ultimately seized power arrested, exiled and executed those democratic souls who had opened the door to them. In the 2006 Palestinian elections, Hamas emerged victorious and eventually carried out a violent coup to seize power in Gaza. Those who opposed Hamas were not just thrown from power. They were thrown from the roofs of tall buildings.
The Muslim Brotherhood remains the only organized political opposition in Egypt. During the recent upheaval, the Brotherhood has gone to great lengths to project a new image by hiding both its role and its aspirations. And this effort has worked wonders among the amnesiacs who make our policy and report our news. Our Director of National Intelligence has gone so far as to call the Muslim Brotherhood a “secular” organization. Many talking heads demonstrate only a slightly better grip on reality by calling the Brotherhood a “moderate” group. But for those who bother to look beyond its current pose, the Brotherhood’s ideological roots and ultimate goals are as clear as they are troubling. The Muslim Brotherhood is a close relative and ideological forebear of both Al Qaeda and Hamas. Their goal of promoting Sharia law in Egypt can only be achieved if they take power. Everything else is a tactic.
I pray that true democrats willing to respect the will of the Egyptian people and live in peace with Israel emerge victorious in the power struggle now underway in Egypt. But I cannot celebrate so long as this remains so unlikely an outcome. We know not where the whirlwind now unleashed will lead.
David Brog is the executive director of Christians United for Israel and author of a new book, In Defense of Faith: The Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity. You can follow David on Facebook by clicking here and on Twitter by clicking here.