Everyone seems to have an opinion on what role the Moslem Brotherhood will have in a new Egyptian government. Some people even know what they’re talk about.
I wrote this week in my column that it is the fear of the Moslem Brotherhood that keeps Jews—unwisely, I believe—from embracing the courageous people in the streets of Cairo. I don’t expect the Moslem Brotherhood to turn into the Temple Sisterhood, but every expert I’ve read and every Egyptian I’ve spoken to has confirmed that it is unlikely for this revolution to turn Egypt into a radical Islamic Brotherhood-controlled state.
On Tuesday, the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University hosted a discussion with Daniel Kurtzer, former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and Israel, and the S. Daniel Abraham Professor in Middle Eastern Policy Studies at the Woodrow Wilson School, titled “Egypt in Turmoil.” Kurtzer has known Hosni Mubarak for over 30 years, and has deep experience with all facets of Egyptian society.
The lecture and Q and A was about an hour, but he did focus in on the Muslim Brotherhood at about the 13 minute mark.
Given how fluid the situation in Cairo is, Kurtzer only half-joked that, “The shelf life of analyis is about an hour.” Still, here are some highlights:
Mubarak is a “status quo leader. A perfect day for Mubarak is a day in which nothing happens.”
While Mubarak was “the embodiment of Egyptian stability,” he “oversaw transformational change in Egypt. You almost didn’t see it happening.” This change includes massive improvement in the economy, rebuilding Egypt’s infrastructure, a transformation of the military from Soviet arms and tactics to American arms and tactics, and securing the peace with Israel. “There was never a significant violation of the treaty,” Kurtzer said—reminding his audience that in the instability that followed Sadat’s assination, many forces and voices in Egyptian society wanted to scrap the peace with Israel.
Still, Egypt can’t produce enough jobs to satisfy its labor force. About 650,000 Egyptians enter the labor force every year and can’t find work.
The unrest hinges on the role of the Egyptian army, which, “is two armies.”
“There are the conscripts who show solidartity with people, and the army of officer corps, the embodiment of Egyptian legitimacy.”
And now, the main obsession of the West (especially Israel and the Jews I know), the Moslem Brotherhood:
“The Moslem Brotherhood since its founding in 1928 has one single goal, 25 and that is to transform Egypt into an Islamic state, and once that’s achieved it’s goal is to transform the Middle East into a pan-Arabist Islamic state…. It is flexible in tactics. ... for large periods in its history it has eschewed violence. The Brotherhood has tactical flexibility, but that doesnt change their goals one iota. That doesn’t mean necesaarily that they need to be kept out of the halls of power. It doesn’t mean they need to be hunted down. But that does mean there needs to be great caution in simplistic analysis in how the Muslim Brotherhood will act with respect to power. And the question of whether or not this movement will try to hijack a political movement for its own purposes will be kept squarely in mind. This is on the minds of the Egyptian military.One can be sure that the role of the Muslim Brotherhood will be circumscribed [by the military].”
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