[singlepic id=97 w=320 h=240 float=left]Cairo’s population is about 18m and no government will be able to stop a popular uprising just on the basis of the laws of probability.

Egypt is complex. In contemporary terms, the country is seen from the prism of its religious importance (Al-Azhar University) and its large cultural footprint on the Arab masses (Egypt is our Hollywood). Its size (About 90m) makes it the largest Arab and Muslim country in the world.

In reading some of the Blogs, I noticed that many smart western analysts are fearful of the Muslim Brotherhood taking control of the government in Egypt. Let us assume they do. What would happen then?

For one Hamas will turn to Egypt for support instead of Iran and Syria. That may, given Egypt’s resources, create some sectarian balance very much able to freeze Syria and Iran. And if the new Egyptian government chooses instead to address the expansionist policies of Iran, then Egypt’s revolution may be a blessing in disguise for Lebanon, Syria, and Israel.

If, however, the Islamists in Egypt choose the tactic of directing their anger against Israel by siding with Iran, they will have to take into consideration a citizenry who may bolt at the notion their historic country has now become a satellite to the Wilayat al-Faqih of Iran. One important Imam from al-Azhar is all it takes to re-direct Egypt’s foreign policy. Further, Saudi Arabia fearful of Iran, will supply the necessary aid to Egypt to persuade its government to focus on the clearest of dangers.

However, given the turbulent history Islam has had with outsiders and given our modern history with how we treat the State of Israel, let us assume Iran and Egypt will merge their foreign policy goals when it comes to Israel. Iran will use violence and threats to contain dissent the way it did in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia would not be able to do a damn thing about it. It would not surprise me at all if Iran has not already sent some high-level IRGC operatives into Cairo to plant their venomous seeds.

Under these circumstances, the west must contemplate what I have suggested in my article to Reuters, mainly break the long hand of Iran by breaking off its supply routes in Syria. Syria becomes key to freezing the two new extremist giants represented by two extremist governments.

Some will say: But what if the Islamists in Syria take charge if we help you dismantle the regime? I know Syria and I know Syrians; alternative to Assad are: Secular Syrians, Socialist Syrians, Ba’athist Syrians, Minority Syrians, Communist Syrians, Islamist Syrians, and moderate Muslim Syrians. Not just the Muslim Brotherhood.

OK, you’re not convinced, so let us assume Islamists will rule Syria after Assad. What then?

Two scenarios in this case.

The most likely scenario is the empowerment of all Arab Sunnis across the region. This is good and bad at the same time (I speak as a Sunni). Good because it will contain the extremist government in Iran and choke Hezbollah, a terrorist organization. The Gulf, with its petro-dollars and need for protection by the US military, will dictate the tempo when Assad is deposed. Bad because too much empowerment of a Sunni majority will inevitably lead to oppression and atrocities, something the region can no longer afford.

The other and unlikely scenario is that extremist Sunnis, even though forming the majority in the region, continue to take marching orders from Tehran. Considering Assad and Hezbollah killed Hariri who was Sunni, it is almost certain this scenario won’t happen. The new Syria, run by extremists, will form delineating and clear lines and tip the balance towards containing the extremists in Tehran.

Two or more extremist governments watching each other. What better scenario to wish for?

As far as truly secular or moderate Muslim leaders are concerned, our turn will come when the Islamists in Damascus fail to provide what the people of Syria demanded and continue to demand: Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights in addition to economic prosperity.

We have no choice but to depose Assad if Egypt falls.

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4 Comments

  1. Rob
    February 7, 2011 at 12:28 am — Reply

    Mr. Ghadry,

    I enjoyed reading this piece, as it expands upon your prior post, but, alas, I must take issue with one central assumption that seems to be guiding your analysis throughout.

    Specifically: America’s interests are served by the perpetuation of Israel’s existence as it manifests itself today. Look, I’m not anti-Semitic and I admit that both Palestinians and Israelis have been at fault in the past. But, come on, you can’t possibly claim that Arabs or the world, in general, can possibly ignore the grave human rights violations committed against Palestinian Muslims AND Christians every day. I have a number of Jewish colleagues and friends, and I’d say about 3/4 of them would admit that there are a number of grave injustices being committed by the IDF against mostly innocent Palestinians.

    Whoever takes the reins from Mubarak is going to have a very difficult job of producing the kind of quick economic results the Egyptian masses want, at least on a short-time scale. My guess is that whoever takes power (even if it isn’t the MB) will flame the Israeli-Palestinian issue domestically (and very probably, internationally, as per your analysis) to temporarily appease the masses.

    But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? The whole Israeli-Palestinian issue has been a means to whoop up the masses (again, on a local and international level) since the Israelis began to completely disregard UN Resolution 181. And it’s never going to end until Israel grants Palestinians equal political and civil rights or complete state sovereignty (not partial, full).

    • February 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm — Reply

      Any abuse of human rights of the Palestinians by Israel, if and when proved, dwarfs the abuse of Arab rulers of their own people. Non-Palestinian Arabs paying attention to one million Palestinians while ignoring 350 million Arabs getting abused is tantamount to becoming a partner-in-crime. Besides, as an Arab who needs to learn from the west after 400 years of a closed-Ottoman rule that yielded ignorance and misery, Israel, to me, is oxygen. Killing the only hope for a better future for my country is far more dangerous than stupid. I support a strong Israel because I love Syria. Thanks for your comment.. Farid

      • Rob
        February 11, 2011 at 5:38 pm — Reply

        Where to begin, where to begin…

        At first, I thought I would respond to your (near) denial of Israeli abuses against Palestinians by citing this article that talks about how 39 ex-Israeli soldiers came forward and admitted witnessing, first-hand, the abuse of Palestinians:

        http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2008/0425/p07s03-wome.html

        But, then, I figured that you would counter by pointing out that these charges could be embellished or isolated, which completely blows my mind.

        So, for now, let’s just assume that Israel is not a major violator of human rights. Let me now address your other assertion that Israel is a model for its Middle Eastern neighbors and “oxygen.”

        I’m not going to argue that Israel is worse than other Arab regimes, although I’m sure I could fairly effectively. The bottom line is that Israel is no better than its other neighbors. Sure, it has elections and is considered a “democracy,” but here’s the problem: 4-5 million Palestinians that live inside what is officially known as Israel have zero political and civil rights. That’s not a democracy the last time I checked.

        Okay, so let’s just say that Israel is at the same level as pretty much all other Arab countries then. But, unless my memory of history has completely left me, I can’t recall any modern Arab regimes engineering the massive displacement and killing of millions (not thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands) of pre-existing inhabitants in complete violation of a UN-SC resolution.

        Yes, Arabs still have a great deal to learn, but I don’t think we should be looking to Israel to teach them that. Whether or not they are right, the vast majority of Arabs hate Israel and are afraid by it. There’s less than a zero chance that Arabs will spontaneously come around to Israel’s side, so let’s not kid ourselves.

        And, finally, let’s return to why Assad and his band of thugs are still in power. For good reason, Syrians are scared to death of Israel. I would be, too, if I were completely mismatched militarily. The average Syrian sees Assad (and I’m sure the regime encourages this line of thought) as the only obstacle to Israeli domination. Perhaps, then, Israel is the biggest obstacle to progress for Syria.

      • February 12, 2011 at 6:59 am — Reply

        Rob, our prisms point to different angles. What Israel does to the Palestinians and the Palestinians do to Israel has no bearing on the larger issue: What Assad does to my Syrian people. I am a Syrian and not a Palestinian. When we free Syria, we will consider our interests only. If the Palestinians contribute more to my country than Israel, then Syria must follow its national interests. My personal opinion? Israel will contribute more, ergo my position. Today, Syrians must care about Syria and not Palestine or their cause or their enemies. The Syrian Cause is more important than the Palestinian Cause and the abuse of my Syrian people by Assad is more important than the abuse of anyone to anyone else in the region. Simple, cold calculation. I appreciate taking the time to post your comments.. Farid

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