Now that we have covered Egyptians want real democracy over Sharia law (Part I of this interview), and Obama’s fluid policies have cemented the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist dictators over Israel, who will rise up to lead Egypt in the right direction; one that is forward-thinking, progressive, modern and offers its people the most basic freedoms, liberties and opportunities? I turned once again to my newfound Facebook colleague and friend, DC-based counter-terrorism expert and author, Walid Phares:
Q: Who, in your opinion, are the most likely candidates to push the dial for real democracy not some Islamist-centered-Sharia law version of “democracy?”
Phares: As I mentioned earlier, the real forces for secular democracy and secularism in the Greater Middle East are reformers, civil society groups, women, minorities, labor, peasants, and political parties that believe in liberal democracy. These are very large segments of societies, but the problem is that Islamists have more money, backed by satellite TV, are better organized, and ironically now supported by the Administration of the largest democracy on Earth. How historical it is to see the leading democratic government in the world backing the Islamists against the ferment of democratic forces in the Middle East.
Q: Besides continuing the peace treaty with Israel and cooperating on closing arms smuggling tunnels and jihadi-inspired infiltration attempts, how can Egypt leverage and replicate the success Israel has had in nation-building and establishing democratic rule?
Phares: First, Egypt is undergoing political change. This is not the old Egypt of Mubarak. The Muslim Brotherhood has priorities. They will maintain a very precarious peace in Gaza while allowing Hamas to arm. Meanwhile, Morsi and his allies will seize the institutions of power in Egypt, sideline the secular opposition, and then, once in full control of the army, work on dismantling the Camp David Agreement.
This is not a secret; these are the well known principles guiding the Islamists in the region. They will use all influence they have in the US gradually to gain momentum and embolden Hamas to act as a regime and as a supporter to jihadists in all of Palestine. Morsi’s intentions are not synonymous with Israelis or Americans to isolate Hamas. To the contrary, Morsi wants to break the blockade by opening Egyptian borders wide to Hamas, but only as he seizes Egypt.
Q: Besides doing an overhaul on the newly-worked-yet-same-limiting-constitution, how would a newly elected Egyptian president go about making real democratic reforms?
Phares: The current President is a Muslim Brotherhood leader; he will pass the constitution via referendum, then start a gradual implementation, making sure he will insure victory after victory. The Egyptian opposition is warning us what we see in Egypt is a transition from one type of dictatorship to another type.
Unfortunately, the academic and media elites in the US are badly influenced by the Brotherhood lobbies and thus are portraying Morsi’s steps as going in the direction of democratic reforms; while in his last declaration he clearly is leading the country towards authoritarian rule where seculars, women and minorities will suffer. The American public must listen to the message of the Egyptian opposition, which is liberal and secular and eventually inclined towards peace and prosperity.
Q: Obviously, Egypt won’t fix its economic problems overnight. What is a realistic time frame of a new Egyptian president and administration enacting a revised constitution that will do a 360 on the ongoing economic woes, poverty, joblessness, hopelessness required to boost morale on the ground and bring about a real democratic reform?
Phares: Serious economic reforms need a serious series of political reforms, moving the country towards political freedoms and market economy while preserving social justice. That is not what the Brotherhood intend to implement.
These Islamists want power, imposition of tight Sharia, and a collective form of power where Islamist elites would concentrate economic powers in the hands of the Brotherhood regime and their Salafist allies, not at the service of working and middle class. You’ll have an Iran and Sudan type of economies where the Islamist financial elite would own the main centers of finances and use this influence to maintain power.
To address all the issues pertaining to real crises such as poverty, jobs, and social tensions, you need to have a government that believes in freedoms and man-made social justice. That is not what the Jihadists and the Islamists are promoting or believe in.