By Ryan Jones
As Egyptians prepared to elect a new president on Wednesday, a noted Egyptian philosopher explained that this was not true democracy and polls suggested the future of relations with Israel did not look promising.
Israelis have been warning since the start of the Arab Spring that Egypt's revolution would ultimately result in increased oppression for Egyptians themselves and a straining of ties with Israel that could easily lead to war. Western officials initially brushed aside those concerns, but the recent parliamentary takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood validated the Israeli position.
Now Egyptians are readying to complete their democratic revolution by holding their first truly free presidential election. But the frontrunners in that race only give greater cause for concern.
Of the four men leading the pack of 13 presidential contenders, two are Islamists closely affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohammed Mursi is the official presidential candidate fielded by the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that has never hidden its hostile feelings toward Israel. Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh is a leading Islamist who left the Brotherhood to form his own political movement. Abolfotoh has called Israel an "enemy state" and believes the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in America were an "inside job."
In an interview aired on Sada Al-Balad TV last month, Egyptian philosopher Murad Wahba warned that if either of those men win, the result will not be a democratic and free Egypt.
"We're not even in the ballpark" of democracy, said Wahba. "If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over the presidency, it will herald the beginning of a comprehensive process of Islamization, from top to bottom."
As for external relations, Wahba suggested war with Israel would be inevitable should the Muslim Brotherhood control both the parliament and the presidency.
"For the Muslim Brotherhood, war is something one initiates, in an effort to convert the region and the entire world to Islam. Therefore, the Muslim Brotherhood is ideologically required to start wars," explained Wahba.
When told that even Mursi and Abolfotoh had publicly promised to honor the Camp David Accords, Wahba reminded his interviewer that both men had qualified those promises with a "but."
"I always pay attention to the expressions they use when they talk about their commitment to the international agreements. They always add the qualifier: 'But it's subject to change and to discussion.' That is their tactic," said Wahba. "It is these expressions that will enable them to send the Egyptian army to initiate war against Israel in the future." [Translation of the Wahba interview provided by MEMRI—Middle East Media Research Institute]
What if the Muslim Brotherhood does not take the presidency?
The two leading "secular" candidates are former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, who also called Israel an enemy state, and Hamdeen Sabahy, who promised greater Egyptian support for Palestinian terrorism against Israel.
All four candidates seem to be in line with Egyptian popular opinion when it comes to relations with Israel.
According to a Pew poll published last week, 61 percent of Egyptians want to annul their nation's peace treaty with Israel. Another poll conducted by Jerusalem's Menachem Begin Heritage Center found that a small 56 percent majority of Egyptians want to maintain the current peace agreement with Israel, and that only 18 percent desire war with the Jewish state. However, 80 percent of respondents said relations with Israel, whatever form they take, should remain cold.
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- 13 battle for Egyptian presidency, 3 stand out • Jerusalem Post
- Egypt to hold historic presidential election • CBC News
- 'Arab Spring' not working well for Egyptian Christians • OneNewsNow