The democratic forces in Egypt, are, in nature, quite a long way from any democratic process that the West would recognise.
The Muslim Brotherhood (The Society of Muslim Brothers) is its actual name originated in Egypt in 1928 and, since then has spread its power across the Islamic world. Its stated aim is the spread of the Koranic teachings and Sunnah (the establishment of the sayings and customs of the Prophet); it also takes an alleged non-violent stance to the West and has a reciprocal hostile relationship with Al Qaeda, although, in Islamic affairs it is always dangerous to be overly prescriptive in forecasts. A recent survey shows that 22% of the population would prefer a non democratic government and 59% are in favour of segregation of the sexes in the workplace.
|What happens if he goes?|
Fr Luciano Verdoscia, an Italian missionary would disagree with this forecast. He believes that we are witnessing a joyous revolution of the youth of the country. I acknowledge that he is an eye witness and as such must be taken seriously but I believe him to be wrong. Maybe an optimist but wrong nevertheless.
What is certain is the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood will have its extremist elements and these may well fight their way to the top with the aid of Al Qaeda support. If Mubarak goes as seems likely, there will be a mother of all power struggles to gain control of the country that has the tenth largest army in the world, well equipped and ready to go. But where?
For over 60 years, Egypt has been a buffer for Israel; an uneasy alliance but one that has insured Israel from the worst excesses of many Arab countries.
Now, if the extremists gain power, this alliance disappears out of the window and Israel loses its only 'ally' in the Middle East.
The unrest that began in Tunisia and then moved to Egypt has already spread to the Yemen, Lebanon and Jordan. It is not inconceivable that Saudi Arabia, bastion of Wahabi Islam, is next. It already faces a massive problem (in common with many other Arab countries) of an unbalanced population with some 50% being under the age of 21.
Added to this is the Saudi culture of non or minimal work for males and the tip of the social iceberg begins to emerge. Young Saudi males, frustrated by an religiously oppressed society, get their kicks, if they are poor, from drinking cologne (sold in large containers as it has legitimate volume usage in such a hot climate). The effect of this is blindness or, even, madness. The more well heeled young Saudi males jump into their 4x4s on a Thursday night and head for the Bahrain causeway and the fleshpots and bright lights of Bahrain itself. A long weekend of alcohol and sex and then back to a week of public continence.
The Israeli Defence Ministry must be working overtime in assessing scenarios and devising strategies and for Egyptian Christians, Copts and Catholics, the outlook is bleak. For the past ten years or so, a more radical form of Islam has been emerging in Cairo and other major cities. Women who once never thought of wearing a yashmak or abeya now fear to go out in public without being so dressed and the veil or niqab is rapidly increasing in use also.
The spate of recent attacks on Christians has abated but only, I suspect, because of the Mubarak issue. And the backing of the USA for Egypt must make for an uneasy situation in Washington, Cairo and Riyadh where, if I am not mistaken the Saudi influence will have been at work, not fomenting, unrest but pouring oil on the troubled waters.