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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Islamist regime may follow Mubarak exit

By Swapan Dasgupta

For the past week, the eyes of the world have been riveted on the turbulence that has gripped Egypt. The scenes of tens of thousands of young, largely male, unarmed demonstrators taunting the baton-wielding police and making a complete mockery of the nationwide curfew has been enthralling. Minus the overtly religious dimension, the upsurge is eerily reminiscent of the events in Iran between 1978 and 1979 that toppled the Pahlavi dynasty and rendered his awesome security apparatus ineffective against organised mass fury. In just three days, a copycat variant of the Jasmine Revolution that sent Tunisia's Ben Ali into exile in Jeddah has sent out the unmistakable message that President Hosni Mubarak is now history.

The timing of Mubarak's formal departure from the seat of power in Cairo may not happen instantly: autocratic rulers accustomed to ruling uninhibitedly don't always give up as easily as Ben Ali. Like the Shah of Iran who appointed the liberal Opposition leader Shapoor Bakhtiyar in a desperate last-minute bid to thwart the inevitable, Mubarak could make a token gesture of accommodation to meet what he has admitted are the "legitimate grievances" of the people.

Tragically for him, it's already too late. Even in Washington, the mood is already veering towards regime change. A much-weakened US is aware it has few cards to play in Egypt. The only thing it can realistically hope for is for Mubarak to go fast, for the anger to subside fast and for a liberal democrat to step into the void and ensure that Egypt doesn't become another radical bastion in West Asia, a Sunni complement to an increasingly maverick Iran.

The real sub-text of the international concern over Egypt is the fear that it will join the forces of radical Islam and destabilise the precarious balance in West Asia.

The fears aren't entirely misplaced. The televised images of determined youngsters in jeans would suggest that the Egyptian outburst is a case of Facebook on the barricades, the 21st century equivalent of the student protests of 1968 in western Europe. Yet, the absence of visible symbols of religiosity in the protests—so unlike Iran where Ayatollah Khomeini personified the opposition to the Shah—shouldn't blind people to two disconcerting facts.

First, that since the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981, the opposition to Mubarak's autocracy has been led by Islamists, both moderate and extremists. With its extensive penetration in civil society, the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) has been the traditional and best organised opposition. It has apparently given up violence for the past two decades and the group has consciously chosen to play a supportive, rather than leadership, role in the recent mobilisation. But there is also the more militant Islamist resistance led by Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, who recruited the likes of Mohammed Atta as suicide bombers.

It is na├»ve for the West to imagine that moderate opposition leaders such as the Nobel Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei can assume a credible role in any alternative dispensation without the support of the Islamist opposition. In Der Spiegel last week, ElBaradei defended the Ikhwan spiritedly: "We should demonising the Muslim Brotherhood…They have not committed any acts of violence in five decades. They too want change. If we want democracy and freedom, we have to include them instead of marginalising them."

Unfortunately ElBaradei's message of inclusiveness isn't likely to be reciprocated. Last Thursday's New York Times quoted conservative Muslim cleric Abu Omer as lamenting that "ElBaradei and the others, they have no connection with religion." Clearly, the idea of a secular Egypt is yet to be accepted by the so-called "Arab street".

Equally ominous is the fact that one of the main criticisms of Mubarak is his alleged "betrayal" of the Palestinian cause and his understanding with Israel. Mubarak was aware that the rapprochement with Israel that followed the Sadat-Begin agreement in Camp David was never popular in Egypt. He tried to deflect this uneasiness with a curious two-track approach: peace with Israel coupled with the benign indulgence of virulent anti-Semitism within the country.

This clever ploy hasn't worked. The young protestors, many of whom are linked to the apparently moderate Kifaya movement, are virulently anti-Israel. They want a reversal of the foreign policy of Sadat and Mubarak, a development that could bring Egypt closer to Syria and Iran and threaten the fragile peace of West Asia. This is more so because the Egyptian military has been generously equipped by the United States. The prospect of these weapons being directed at Israel is scary.

Ultimately, the future of Egypt rests in the hands of Egyptians. Egypt is a country that hasn't tasted liberal democracy. It's exasperation with Mubarak is understandable and the determination to oust a regime based on repression and crony capitalism is understandable. But change brings its own imponderables and the future of Egypt is a greater cause of concern than the future of, say, Tunisia and Myanmar.

There is nothing inevitable about the shape of post-Mubarak Egypt. There are many possibilities and the prophets of doom may well be proved wrong. However, the experience of Iran is a warning that the ouster of a hated regime through a popular uprising doesn't always result in the creation of something more wholesome. History is not always the story of mankind's unrelenting march to progress: one step forward often leads to two steps backward.

Sunday Pioneer, January 30, 2011

11 comments:

No Mist said...

we have examples closer home too ... Nepal also erupted in mass protests but is till mired into anarchy ... Bangladesh stabilized after 20 years ...

and India too was stable after independence because it had 'gone through the pains' before independence itself.

so there is no short term solution to liberty ... it has always been won with blood ... and egypt, tunisia will be no different.

Anonymous said...

One can be sure of a fundamentalist Islamic regime in Egypt now, virulently anti non-muslim. The remaining 10% coptic christians will be decimated. Israel will be faced with another Hamas type govt. govt. in Egypt. Seems the middle east is heading for a major war in the next 2 years, possibly nuclear.

Anonymous said...

Indian Muslims including the anti Narendra Modi, anti Vastanvi, the deceptively liberal Shabana Azmis,Javed Akthars,Shah Rukh Khans, militant Kashmiris & their cheerleaders extending till Kerala, Kanyakumari & the illegal Bangladeshis with bogus ration cards, passports etc OUGHT to remember the following vital truth.

When Kuwait was invaded by Iraq none of the above mentioned Indian/Bangladeshi muslims were embraced & accommodated by the Iraqis.In the name of Islam or Ummah or 'Babar masjid trauma'.

The same hindu haters were desperately trying to return to India then , hungrily grabbing the free food , biscuit packets etc generously offered by several Hindus & Sikhs at Mumbai airport.

Alas , gratitude is so evanescent.

Why else would Shakespeare's "Ingratitude sharper than the serpent's tongue " enjoy such an indelibly evergreen status ??

Anonymous said...

Indian Muslims including the anti Narendra Modi, anti Vastanvi, the deceptively liberal Shabana Azmis,Javed Akthars,Shah Rukh Khans, militant Kashmiris & their cheerleaders extending till Kerala, Kanyakumari & the illegal Bangladeshis with bogus ration cards, passports etc OUGHT to remember the following vital truth.

When Kuwait was invaded by Iraq none of the above mentioned Indian/Bangladeshi muslims were embraced & accommodated by the Iraqis.In the name of Islam or Ummah or 'Babar masjid trauma'.

The same hindu haters were desperately trying to return to India then , hungrily grabbing the free food , biscuit packets etc generously offered by several Hindus & Sikhs at Mumbai airport.

Alas , gratitude is so evanescent.

Why else would Shakespeare's "Ingratitude sharper than the serpent's tongue " enjoy such an indelibly evergreen status ??

Anonymous said...

What about all the "conspiracy theories" that have been doing rounds for quite some time now in the Islamic world? Is it really true that the 'Muslim Brotherhood' has been financed & promoted by a faction of AL-Qaeda? Will this uprising in parts of North Africa & middle east eventually take on a more Pan Islamic stature, where-in even the Saudi ruling faction would not be spared? What would be the implications of such a revolution in the middle east on the world?... All these questions are not being debated at all in the mainstream world media.

As we all know, the initial uprising in Iran began as a more secular hatred for the Pahlavi dynasty which was hijacked by the fundamentalists. In 1995, when the Taliban came in to picture in Afghanistan, most people believed it to be a genuine student uprising against the faction-ridden warlords and accepted it. Later on the world realized the real nature of the Taliban, but at a great price.

The present happenings in the Islamic world in general and Egypt & Tunisia in particular give us an eerie reminder that fundamentalism & Islam are a lot more mainstream than we care to accept! It is time we prepare ourselves for a more bleaker world than ever before!

Anonymous said...

Hindus (read BJP) needlessly behaved like bollykolly filmstars stridently demanding the Tricolor be honoured in Kashmir. Knowing fully well the muslim appeasers are calling the shots all over India.

Did not Indians self congratulatorily preen at having planted the Indian Flag in the very Moon itself ?

Histrionics are not effective in achieving anything worthwhile at all. Recently Supreme Court upheld that Hindu Temples would be bled to subsidize Haj pilgrimages. Why can't they subsidize Haj pilgrimages from funds pouring from Islamic countries towards mosques building ? None of the Islamic countries around subsidize including Pakistan. Their own Islam religion disapproves of it. Why pick exclusively on Hindu Temples?

It is a breathtakingly astonishing fact that Islamic countries where lot of Indians of various religious hues live DO NOT APPEASE.

This is another reason I am not that enthusiastic about a Ram Temple at Ayodhya. That also would be looted by the same government of appeasers.

Without addressing this important issue why talk of building Temples ?

Indian muslims are a volatile bunch of people. Recall during cartoon protests an Indian MP of Uttar Pradesh announced a hefty cash reward for muslims dispensing Islamic style of justice to The Dutch cartoonist.

To deal with the congenital appeasers of India BJP should demand forthrightly that Indian muslims & exclusively INDIAN MUSLIMS ALONE get appointed as personal bodyguards , black cat commandoes , chauffeurs for Indian politicians including all in Congress ( Rahul Sonia Chidambaram manmohan Singh included)Mulayam Singh Yadavs , Yechurys , Prakash Karats , Bardhans- in short the communists, DMK- the perennial appeasers , President of India & all Governors dancing to the tune of appeasers ,all Judges , VIPs - you get the drift.

This is the most potent way of dealing with the appeasers.

Tricolour hoisting amidst baton charges are so Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi styled wimpy impotent lacklustre histrionics.

To ensure this Hindus need solidarity. It would take only a nanosecond for Indian Muslims to turn against the Hindus of India.

Anonymous said...

Hindus (read BJP) needlessly behaved like bollykolly filmstars stridently demanding the Tricolor be honoured in Kashmir. Knowing fully well the muslim appeasers are calling the shots all over India.

Did not Indians self congratulatorily preen at having planted the Indian Flag in the very Moon itself ?

Histrionics are not effective in achieving anything worthwhile at all. Recently Supreme Court upheld that Hindu Temples would be bled to subsidize Haj pilgrimages. Why can't they subsidize Haj pilgrimages from funds pouring from Islamic countries towards mosques building ? None of the Islamic countries around subsidize including Pakistan. Their own Islam religion disapproves of it. Why pick exclusively on Hindu Temples?

It is a breathtakingly astonishing fact that Islamic countries where lot of Indians of various religious hues live DO NOT APPEASE.

This is another reason I am not that enthusiastic about a Ram Temple at Ayodhya. That also would be looted by the same government of appeasers.

Without addressing this important issue why talk of building Temples ?

Indian muslims are a volatile bunch of people. Recall during cartoon protests an Indian MP of Uttar Pradesh announced a hefty cash reward for muslims dispensing Islamic style of justice to The Dutch cartoonist.

To deal with the congenital appeasers of India BJP should demand forthrightly that Indian muslims & exclusively INDIAN MUSLIMS ALONE get appointed as personal bodyguards , black cat commandoes , chauffeurs for Indian politicians including all in Congress ( Rahul Sonia Chidambaram manmohan Singh included)Mulayam Singh Yadavs , Yechurys , Prakash Karats , Bardhans- in short the communists, DMK- the perennial appeasers , President of India & all Governors dancing to the tune of appeasers ,all Judges , VIPs - you get the drift.

This is the most potent way of dealing with the appeasers.

Tricolour hoisting amidst baton charges are so Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi styled wimpy impotent lacklustre histrionics.

To ensure this Hindus need solidarity. It would take only a nanosecond for Indian Muslims to turn against the Hindus of India.

Anonymous said...

Missed out other very important Indian appeasers deserving to be compulsorily surrounded & protected by talibanised fire & brimstone belching Muslims are :-

I am calling from the bunker Barkha Dutts , Rajdeep Sardesais, Prannoy Roys N Rams of Hindu and I am sure sharp Hindus can add more to the list. Irrepressible energies of Muslims would be well channelled thus.

Kiran Raivaderra said...

Dada, I wish someone had checked the proof. Barring that, it is as usual enlightening. Thanks
One word for Anonymous. When you have so much to say by way of comment, why don't you write your own blogs?

Hindu WB said...

Comin gback to indian perspective,
the recent anti-hindu violence in Deganga , West Bengal bears an ominous sign for the majority hindus of india.

Unchecked muslim infiltration from bangladesh/Communist regime/ Vote bank politics combinedly thwarted west bengal to its present pahetic state.

Anonymous said...

I hope US and other countries understand the big picture. After Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan, slowly the entire Islamic world will be under Islamic fundamentalist rule with the guise of fight for liberty. That means Al Qaida will have lot of resources to fight against non-Islamic world including control over oil resources. I am wondering why the similar fight for democracy was not successful in Iran? The pattern here is easy to recognize. Either convert to Islam or perish.