Israel on the doorstep of a new Islamic Republic

Monday, June 25, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

It's official: the Muslim Brotherhood has taken control of Egypt, or will do so in the very near future.

To the consternation of many throughout the region, Egypt's election commission on Sunday announced that Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi would be the next president of the largest and most powerful Arab state.

That victory comes just months after the Brotherhood and an allied Islamist group won a strong majority in the Egyptian parliament. Egypt's current rulers in the Supreme Military Council had those election results nullified, but a similar outcome is expected when new parliamentary elections are held.

Morsi scored a narrow 51.7 percent victory in Egypt's run-off presidential election against secular candidate Ahmed Shafiq, who was plagued by his ties to former dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt's evolution from secular, Western-aligned dictatorship to an Islamist-controlled regime advocating Sharia Law so closely mirrors what happened to Iran in the late 1970s that Israel is understandably concerned.

Iranians chafed under the repressive rule of their former shah, just as Egyptians did under Mubarak. Eager for change, many Iranians were quickly taken in by the promising message of the Ayatollah Khomenei, and propelled his movement to power through newfound democratic freedoms. The very same holds true for the Muslim Brotherhood and its growing support base in Egypt.

Only after attaining overall control of the country did Khomeini show his true face and plunge Iran into darkness and repression on a scale never imagined under the shah. Already, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood leadership are hinting at going down a similar path.

Despite claims to the contrary for the sake of Western consumption (the Western media has inexplicably, but predictably swallowed those lies), Morsi said Sharia will be a central component of his presidency.

During an election rally at Cairo University last month, Morsi told young Egyptians, "The Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path and death in the name of Allah is our goal. Today we can establish Sharia law because our nation will acquire well-being only with Islam and Sharia."

But like in Iran, it's not the president everyone should truly be worried about. Rather, Western concerns are more properly directed at the religious forces using the presidency as a puppet. In Egypt's case, that puppeteer is Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed al-Badi.

It was Badi, and the rest of the Brotherhood leadership, that advanced Morsi as a candidate for president, confident that he would promote the movement's core tenants.

And just what are those tenants? The imposing of Sharia in place of true democratic freedom, for one.

In 2007, former Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Mahdi Akef very bluntly explained that the movement would, given the opportunity, use democracy to gain power, and then replace it with Sharia law, which he sees as the "true democracy."

"The final, absolute message from heaven contains all the values which the secular world claims to have invented....Islam and its values antedated the West by founding true democracy," Akef told the Egyptian newspaper Al-Karama.

Current Supreme Guide Badi suggested that does not bode well for the minorities in Egypt or anywhere else the Brotherhood intends to rule.

"Allah's word will reign supreme and the infidels' word will be inferior," Badi said in a televised sermon in 2010.

What about foreign relations, in particular relations with Israel?

Morsi has publicly promised to honor all international treaties and agreements, including the Camp David Accords. But, again, it is reasonable to view that with suspicion as a sound bite intended for Western consumption.

During the run-off presidential election, Shafiq strongly cautioned that were it to gain power, the Muslim Brotherhood would provoke armed conflict with Israel by making "Palestine" the core issue for all Egyptians.

Shortly after, Morsi appeared at an election rally where a Muslim cleric with ties to the Brotherhood declared that a Morsi presidency would result in the return of Jerusalem to Islamic sovereignty.

Again, the man everyone should really be looking at when it comes to these matters is Badi, and according to a 2010 speech he made, the Muslim Brotherhood seeks jihad against both Israel and the US. "Waging jihad against both of these infidels is a commandment of Allah that cannot be disregarded," declared Badi.

None of this means the Muslim Brotherhood will declare war tomorrow. Indeed, it can't at this stage, with Egypt's Supreme Military Council wary of relinquishing full control of the state to the new president and his superiors. But the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing if not patient, and it is gaining some surprising allies in the West.

The Obama Administration seems to not share Israel's deep concerns over the Muslim Brotherhood rise to power, and that has more than a few Israelis scratching their heads in wonderment. In fact, Obama is leading the international call for Egypt's army to step aside and let the newly elected Islamists assume full control.

Another similarity with the Iranian Revolution is the American response. Like Mubarak, the former shah of Iran was an ally of the US, but found little or no support from Washington as he was toppled from power. And, like Obama with Egypt, as it became clear that radical Islamists would rule Iran in the shah's stead, the Carter Administration, rather than raise doubt and take action against further regional destabilization, expressed sympathy for and confidence in the ayatollah.

Photo: Hamas activists in Gaza celebrate the electoral victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Hamas is an offshoot of and closely allied with the Muslim Brotherhood.

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