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Egypt Elects Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists

 5 December 2011

By Yisrael Ne'eman

The first round of results from the Egyptian elections is no great surprise except for the magnitude of the Islamist victory. Even though elections were held in the more "liberal" districts including Cairo, the Muslim Brotherhood and extremist Salafis won an estimated 40% and 20+% of the vote respectively. They will increase their power when the more conservative regions have their chance to vote over the next two months. Somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of the Egyptian parliament will be dominated by Islamic groups in one form or another. One fact is for sure, Western media and in particular the more left wing commentators were completely wrong, these having expected the elections to represent liberal approaches to democracy, freedom, individual rights and an overall open society. Now instead many will hail the free and democratic election process – short lived as it may prove to be. Already there is speculation that the Brotherhood will align itself with the liberal more secular parties and banish the Salafis to the opposition. To believe the common Islamic understandings and values to be less of a cohesive factor than a loyalty to human rights and the democratic system of government is to underestimate the power of belief in the infallibility of Allah and Sharia law.

Islamists favor elections when assured of victory or need to test the waters. They are far less willing to concede power should they expect a reversal in fortunes a few years down the road. The Islamic world views Western liberalism as a foreign implant – which it is. Elections are to be used as a tool for the benefit of Islam while the peoples' will is not a value in itself, unless that "will" conforms to "Islam is the Answer". In the future elections will be superfluous should they be deemed so by the clerics, or elections will be limited to the correct political sphere such as in Iran. True, there is a liberal opposition alongside those who continue to support the previous regime and military. However within a few years one can expect the Facebook/Twitter young liberals who are credited with sparking the revolution to be ushered into oblivion if the election results have not done so already. The military will undergo an Islamization through a synthesis with the Brotherhood and its Salafi allies. These two share one major value, a great distaste for democracy.

Parliamentarianism will not gain hold despite the elections. In the foreseeable future one can expect the curtailment of women's and minority (Coptic Christians) rights in the New Egypt. Individual freedoms were generally repressed in Egypt and will continue to be so but more harshly. There are those who claim Egypt and the Arab/Muslim World are going backwards. From a liberal democratic Western perspective this will be proven true, however from the Islamic understanding all are making great positive strides towards full faith and trust in Allah. "Backwards" is a very subjective term. Sharia law can be expected to take root more firmly and some form of "Enabling Act" eliminating parliament, such as was in 1930s Germany may be considered.

The West is impotent to influence almost anything. It does not matter if one is speaking of Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, Liberals or anyone else. There is no real leverage on Egypt even should the Americans decide to halt all military aid. Egypt will begin a period of reconsolidation where the immediate issues have little to do with war. The peasantry and urban destitute constituting the vast majority of Egypt are concerned with the next life as much as they are with this one. Religion plays the ultimate role. Over the decades they have seen little improvement, if any, in their daily existence and do not have great expectations. Egypt can get by on a subsistence plus economy while the emerging Islamic state will dominate infrastructure, following the Iranian example.

The Islamic revolutionary direction is unstoppable and irreversible. It must run its course and can be expected to be accompanied by a fair amount of violence both within its society and towards outside elements whether it be the West in general or Israel in particular. The Jewish State can expect increasing terrorism on its Egyptian border but a full scale war within the next few years does not appear likely. If and how long the peace agreement will hold up is not clear. But more about this at another time. Egypt has the ability to lead and others who already have Islamic regimes such as Sudan and Saudi Arabia will follow alongside those with emerging Islamist governments such as Libya, Tunisia and Morocco. The moderation of the last two will be challenged. Transition is coming to Iraq after the American exit and the secular Ba'ath regime in Syria is on the way out. These two countries may break into pieces, but their Sunni Muslim religious elements will form the new power elite in areas remaining under their domain regardless of the new governing constellations.

So how should the West respond? Firstly there is no ability to intervene successfully. However it must be made clear that there is to be no "export of the revolution" meaning Jihad. What is called "Defensive Jihad" to reclaim lands previously ruled by Islam is as out of the question as is "Offensive Jihad" where Islamic governments decide on world conquest. It must be made clear to the Islamic world that any Jihad will be countered with massive punishing force leading to major infrastructure elimination and the complete disruption of those societies. Much more problematic will be the battle against terrorism. Western vigilance to ensure its own well being is only part of the battle. Countries harboring terrorists must be made to pay the price with serious damage being done to their interests. The West can attempt containment and mutual non-aggression but no one knows whether the Islamic World will agree.

Egypt is a major player in the Arab and Islamic World with a population of over 80 million. The people are truly voting their conscience and democracy will not be the winner. The West needs to confront the new rising Islamic powers throughout the world, insure its own values and societal well being and hope they will not be forced into another major clash between Islam and Christendom. When reviewing Islamist beliefs and philosophies one understands that the chances of keeping the peace are not particularly good.