Posted on 21-08-2013
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

The Egyptian military appears to have crossed its Rubicon and decided to crush the Muslim Brotherhood.  By arresting the Muslim Brotherhood leadership it will probably cripple the hierarchical organization in the short run.  However, it makes the chance of an Islamist insurgency all that much more likely.  Perceiving themselves cheated of a democratic mandate some Islamists will likely turn to violence.  History never repeats itself exactly, but the Egyptian army appears to have gambled that they will have the staying power to crush an insurgency like Algeria did.  It is a dangerous gamble that will likely have bloody repercussions.  Egypt is much larger than Algeria and at the heart of the Arab world, not a country out in the fringes of the Sahara.

The Egyptian military bears much of the blame for the potency of the brotherhood.  Under the corrupt dictatorship of Mubarak, the secular opposition was crushed.  The Brotherhood was allowed a measure of action and allowed to organize.  This allowed the Pharaoh to point to the emerging Islamist threat for Western aid.  Now the army is out to crush an entity it allowed to develop strong roots during Mubarak’s inefficient and corrupt misrule.

This leaves America in a horrible situation.  On the one hand it tosses half-hearted denunciations of the brutal Baath regime in Syria – the Islamist opposition there not helping matters.  At the same time it will turn a blind eye as its (still) official ally slaughters its opponents.  Even though he knows better this places Barack Obama back with the much maligned American hypocrisy during the cold war.  So far American attempts to mildly criticize both sides have drawn the ire of both sides.  What happens if the Egyptian public turns on the army if there is a repeat of the corrupt authoritarian rule from the Mubarak years (a likely option) is anybody’s guess.

In the short run the public violence in Egypt will likely die down.  In the long run it appears we will see Algeria on the Nile.

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