Sunday, July 15, 2012

Egypt -- Libya -- Islam

The events in Egypt and Libya taking place today may determine the future of the Middle East for years to come. More importantly these events may affect Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood, Palestine, and most certainly the radical Islamists. Will Islam and Sharia Law become the dominant force in the Middle East or will the more moderate Muslims prevail and turn toward modernism and the world at large? IRAN Perhaps Iran holds the key to any peace in the Middle East. It is a government dominated by a group of radical Shi’ite Clerics posing as a legitimate government. They are funding most of the violence endemic in the Arab World. They are working on the development of an atomic bomb and have already developed the means to deliver that bomb to Israel as well as Eastern Europe. The question is “will Iran use their nuclear capability to attack Israel?” I think this is unlikely because it would lead to the downfall of the current government and end the clerical dominance. Would Iran quietly provide the nuclear weapons to their Hezbollah alter ego? This also is unlikely because the relationship between Iran and Hezbollah is no secret. Would they offer nuclear weapons to Palestine in order to assist the Palestinians in their pathetic war against Israel? This might be a possibility if the radical Islamists truly want to destroy Israel. PALESTINE The first question is “Is Palestine a real nation or is it an imaginary country like Afghanistan? The Arab world pays a lot of lip service to the Palestinian “cause” but after more than 60 years of rhetoric no Arab country seems to provide the Palestinians any substantive support nor has the erstwhile government ever shown any control over the factions ruling and dividing them. True – someone is paying for the weapons used by the Palestinians but either the Palestinians don’t have enough men to use all of the weapons or there simply isn’t enough armament to effectively attack Israel. Either way it appears that the Palestinian problem is nothing more than a way for the Arab world to rally around a cause without getting too involved. As the events in Egypt, Libya, and Syria unfold the question becomes “will the emerging Arab governments opt for a peaceful co-existence with Israel and the world or will they intensify their attacks on Israel and the West? The answer to that question might lie with Saudi Arabia. SAUDI ARABIA This may be the most schizophrenic country in the world. It is a monarchy on the one hand but a theocracy on the other. There is the royal family who are westernized (ignore their traditional dress) and realize their fate may lie with the Western Powers because of their economic dependence. At the same time the Royal family is not totally confident in the support of the people and are afraid of Iran and it’s religious influence over the Saudi people. The Saudi’s are the guardians of the most sacred places in Islam, practice Sharia Law, and are expected to be the model of an Islamic state. So publicly the Saudi’s are opposed to Israel while it has been rumored for years that privately they don’t care about Israel, which raises the question of how will they react to the events in Egypt and Libya. EGYPT The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in the 1920’s as a semi-secret organization with the objective of establishing Islam as the governing authority in the Arab world. They have been opposed and outlawed ever since – at least until the recent elections in Egypt, where they received 51% of the vote. The Egyptian Military does not support the Muslim Brotherhood and has worked with the Egyptian Judicial arm to weaken the constitution and the power of the President. The military dissolved the Egyptian parliament but the new President Morsi in an act of defiance convened it and then adjourned it before the Military could act. This was clearly intended to challenge the Military. On the positive side Morsi has promised to include Christians and women in his government and has promised to govern for all Egyptians. As his first foreign visit he is visiting Saudi Arabia. This is an important visit because how the Saudi Arabian government receives him is important. They could influence him to establish a modus Vivendi with Israel, rein in the Palestinians (who rely on arms coming in from Egypt), lean toward the West and not Iran, or any combination of these. But Egypt and Saudi Arabia cannot ignore the events in Libya either and what happens there could influence what happens in Egypt. LIBYA The Libyans have over thrown Gaddafi whose government was at least nominally Islamic. The question now is will Libya become an Islamic government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood or will it lean toward the West and modernism? The recent elections in Libya have been indeterminate with the more secular National Forces Alliance headed my Mahmoud Jibril claiming victory while the Islamist Justice and Construction Party claims that it will ultimately prevail. This claim is based on the rather complicated political structure which prevents either party from gaining an absolute majority of the Parliament. Mohammed Sawan believes the independent votes in the Parliament will go to the Muslim Brotherhood giving them control of the government. At least some of the Independent parties fear the Muslim Brotherhood and see it as allied with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Other independents are opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood for fear that they would close off Libya from the West and install a conservative Islamic government. The Independent candidate stated that he had rebuffed offers from Justice and Construction Party (Muslim Brotherhood) because "Libyans are ready to experience democracy and only educated liberals with a world view can bring it." SYRIA Syria has yet to come into play due to the de facto civil war raging. The existing government is heavily supported by Iran, shelters Hezbollah, and tacitly opposes Israel. Precisely who the forces opposing the Syrian government are is uncertain. The Iraqi’s have warned that Al Qaeda troops are pouring into Syria from Iraq. If this is true it doesn’t bode well for Syria’s future. If the opposition prevails they could follow Libya and turn westward or they could establish an Islamic state with an anti-west position.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. You make good points about Iran, and that perhaps the idea of it using nuclear weapons against Israel are overstated. My primary concern would be that Iran having nuclear weapons would essentially make it impervious to any conventional attacks, since the mullahs could always hold nuclear weapons over the attackers heads. It would be Middle East MAD.