Revolution in Egypt depends on Assad's fate

Egypt is celebrating the first anniversary of the overthrow of Mubarak. Meanwhile, it did not bring calm to the country. As shown by the football butchery in Port Said, where over a thousand people have been killed and wounded, the instability in Egypt has increased considerably.

The parliamentary elections held in December and January and  won by Islamists represented by "Muslim Brotherhood" and Salafists failed to establish stability. This has an adverse effect on the tourism industry that before the revolution brought very tangible income to the treasury of the country. In this connection, the flow of foreign tourists in Egypt, especially from Western Europe, has markedly decreased. This, in turn, strikes a blow for millions of Egyptians employed in the tourism industry and threatens further deterioration of the socio-economic situation fraught with new shocks.

It is clear that the Egyptian revolution is far from being complete. The military, at least for now, do not intend to unconditionally surrender their positions to the Islamists. There are significant questions regarding the adoption of the Constitution and the formation of the government. Presidential elections are to be tentatively held in the summer. According to many experts, this will clarify the situation.

The Chairman of the Islamic Committee of Russia Heydar Jemal talked about possible developments in one of the most important countries in the Arab world in an interview with "Pravda.Ru":

"At what stage is the revolutionary process in Egypt at the moment?"

"This is just the initial phase. The fight is unwinding for what the Constitution will be like and who will create it. Marshal Tantawi and his military council hoped to seize the initiative and take the fruits of victory away from the winners of parliamentary elections. They wanted to create media leaders, a constitutional group for the elaboration of provisions of the Basic Law. However, the "Brothers" and Salafists do not agree with them. They are well aware that the military embarked on an unwise tactical trick to take their victory away. Now the fight for the Constitution is in full swing."

"Who else but the "Muslim Brotherhood" and Salafi and military force is participating in the ongoing struggle?"

"This is the main force. Everything else is unimportant. As shown by the last parliamentary elections, secular liberal parties have little influence on the situation. The real impact of the forces in the country called "Islamists" is proportionately larger than the recorded results of the vote. In reality, together the "brothers" and Salafists gained three-quarters of the votes, but agreed to reduce their presence in the parliament for strategic reasons, to avoid giving their opponents a reason to cling to it and stir up unnecessary conflict."

"How significant are the differences between the "Brothers" and Salafis?"

"The Egyptian situation is such that most of the local Salafists are, in fact, a branch of "the Muslim Brotherhood." Saudi Arabia traditionally uses the Salafists to expand its influence. Such groups began to appear in Egypt. For the "Brothers" they pose a threat, and there is a serious struggle between them. This is a sworn enemy. In addition, the vector of influence is well-defined: Saudi Arabia is a key U.S. ally that operates in the U.S. interests and supports respective regimes."

But the Ikhwan in Egypt were able to largely seize the situation to their advantage and take control of the Salafist movement, sharply limiting the influence of the Saudis. To make it more clear, I will draw a parallel: now, in fact, the Egyptian Salafists are in similar proportions to the Liberal Democratic Party and "United Russia"."

"One of the main intrigues is who will fight for the presidency. Earlier there were reports that among the possible candidates are the former head of the Arab League Amr Moussa and former IAEA chief ElBaradei, and the "Brothers" supposedly did not want to nominate a candidate?"

"As for secular candidates, they may well suit at a transitional stage as a temporary "stopgap" for Ikhwans. For the "Brothers" such behavior is traditional. They do not want to display their candidate and subject him to the blows of the enemies."

"How likely is the Algerian scenario in which the military send the Islamist leaders in jail and set the junta?"

"Given that the Egyptian military are tough, they might go for it if they consider that the actions of Ikhwans and Salafis are a direct threat. They well remember the example of Algeria, when the West and the rest did not actually notice this coup."

"Under Mubarak Egypt was a U.S. ally, whose loyalty largely provided the Israeli security. Will the Americans turn the blind eye to the triumph of the Islamists and support the military, whose actions are hardly consistent with the notion of "democracy"?"

"The Americans are worried and confused, and the United States has no clear set of actions with respect to Egypt. The statements about Obama's "support of the Egyptian revolution" are not welcomed by the Republicans. They did not want to overthrow Mubarak, their trusted ally. Now the American elite's position in relation to the events in Egypt is not fully determined. And not just because the outcome of the Egypt struggle is still uncertain, but because America has become an arena of confrontation between the two different groups of the international establishment that see the further developments in the world differently."

"What are the end prospects for the revolution?"

"The situation in Syria is extremely important now. If they manage to quickly overthrow Assad, the "Brothers" will have a brilliant prospect of creating the unified Arab state that nationalist represented by Nasser and his allies have not managed to create."

Sergei Balmasov


Read the original in Russian

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov