World View: Analysis of the Crisis in Egypt

World View: Analysis of the Crisis in Egypt

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Dozens of Egyptian pro-Morsi protesters killed by security forces
  • Generational Dynamics analysis of the crisis in Egypt
  • The Muslim Brotherhood
  • Egypt’s future

Dozens of Egyptian pro-Morsi protesters killed by security forces

Pro-Morsi supporters carry an injured man to a field hospital on Saturday (AP)
Pro-Morsi supporters carry an injured man to a field hospital on Saturday (AP)

Dozens of pro-Morsi protesters were killed on Saturday by live firefrom government security forces. Army spokesmen are claiming that thepro-Morsi protesters started shooting first, and there is someevidence that one or two snipers fired at security forces in order tocause a confrontation. But there’s no doubt that most of thefirepower came from the security forces, and most of the targets werepro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Egypt’s health ministryreported 38 deaths on Saturday, while the Muslim Brotherhood claimed amuch higher number — 120 people killed, 4,500 people injured.Al-Ahram (Cairo)

Generational Dynamics analysis of the crisis in Egypt

When the Egyptian Revolution began in January, 2011, I began writingfrequent generational analyses of what was going on. Much of what Iwrote was widely disputed in comments by many people, but now, 2-1/2years later, those analyses and predictions have turned out to becorrect. As I’ve been saying since 2005, there is no web site,analyst, journalist, politician or pundit with anything close to theconsistent predictive success of my web site and GenerationalDynamics, and my challenge to anyone to point one out is still open.

There was a negative story line that I saw repeatedly from analystsand journalists across the political spectrum. Those on the righttended to adopt the entire story line, but even pundits on the leftadopted various parts of it. The outline is as follows:

  • The Egyptian Revolution would be a repeat of Iran’s Great Islamic Revolution of 1979.
  • The Muslim Brotherhood would hide its intentions until it was in power, and then it would use violent tactics to kill anyone opposing it, including Egyptians, Jews, Coptic Christians, Israelis, and Americans, and then would establish a harsh Sharia law state.
  • Alternatively, some people predicted a takeover by the Army, and the establishment of a strict Sharia law state, in cooperation with the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Either way, Egypt would abrogate its peace treaty with Israel, and would end the blockage of Hamas in Gaza.

Some parts of these mainstream predictions turned out to be true. Theones who predicted that the Muslim Brotherhood would come to powerwere right, and the ones who predicted that Army would come to powerwere right, although they each came to power at different times. From thepoint of view of Generational Dynamics, the outcomes of elections andpolitical decisions are chaotic events (in the sense of Chaos Theory),so I didn’t make any predictions about who would be governing.

However, it was pretty clear, from generational considerations, thatmost of the rest of the above scenario was wrong. The following is asummary of what I wrote in “4-Feb-11 News — The lull before the storm in Egypt as ‘Friday of Departure’ approaches” and “3-Feb-11 News — Violence between protester factions kills three in Egypt” and <#inc ww2010.weblog.subref e110131e110131b ""31-Jan-11 News -- Millions riot in Egypt as the Westfears a Muslim Brotherhood victory.""#>.

The Muslim Brotherhood

The most important generational consideration regarding the MuslimBrotherhood involves the following two facts:

  • Although they were violent in the war between Jews and Arabs in the late 1940s, they completely renounced violence in the early 1980s.
  • The vast majority of Egyptians are under age 30.

Thus, the vast majority of Egyptians have never known violence fromthe Muslim Brotherhood. That would include members of the Brotherhooditself. Of course, there are some old geezer politicians in the MBwho dream of the old days when they could blow somebody up, but thoseare a tiny minority by this time.

As I’ve written dozens of times, it’s a basic principle ofGenerational Dynamics that even in a dictatorship, major policies andevents are determined by masses of people, entire generations ofpeople, and not by politicians. What politicians say or do isirrelevant, except insofar as their actions reflect the attitudes ofthe people that they represent, and so politicians can neither causenor prevent the great events of history. It’s a consequence of thisprinciple that it’s extremely unlikely that the Brotherhood is goingto return to its violence of the late 1940s. And now, 2-1/2 yearsinto the Egyptian Revolution, we can see that’s true.

The same generational reasoning applies to the prediction that theBrotherhood would abrogate Egypt’s peace agreement with Israel. Anysuch major decision would have to come from the masses of people, andif so, then it would have happened while Mubarak was still in power.The fact that the peace agreement was in place for over 30 yearsindicates that the people of Egypt really want to have peace withIsrael, and nothing about that is particularly surprising. Nor is itsurprising that, even when the Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi came topower, no attempt was made to abrograte the peace treaty.

As for violent attacks on Jews and Coptic Christians, there have beensome isolated incidents, but after 2-1/2 years, it’s clear thatthere’s going to be no widespread attacks. Pro-Morsi and anti-Morsidemonstrators have been targeting each other, not Jews and Christians.

Here’s what I wrote about the protesters in 2011:

  • They are NOT demanding anything related to Hamas.
  • They are NOT demanding anything related to al-Qaeda.
  • They are NOT shouting, “Death to Israel!”
  • They are NOT shouting “Death to America!”
  • They are NOT burning Israeli flags.
  • They are NOT burning American flags.
  • They only want the resignation of Mubarak.

The political objectives have changed (depose Morsi or reinstateMorsi), but there’s absolutely no sign that the masses of Egyptianpeople want a relationship with Hamas or that they want to kill Jewsor Christians.

What I’ve said repeatedly since then was that I’d be willing to changemy mind, but before I do, I’d have to see crowds of Egyptians inTahrir Square burning Israeli flags and chanting “Death to Israel!”Until that happens, it’s almost completely impossible that anysubstantial action will be taken against Jews or Israel.

Now let me briefly return to the question of Iran. There was awidespread mainstream belief that Egypt’s revolution would be a repeatof Iran’s 1979 revolution, with the Muslim Brotherhood taking powerand installing Sharia law.

As I wrote in 2011, this was never going to happen because ofsignificant differences between the two situations: Iran has ahistoric fault line between the monarchy and the clerics, and there’sno similar fault line in Egypt; and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was avery charismatic leader, and was greatly loved by Iran’s population.There has been no similar figure in Egypt today, certainly not MohamedMorsi, who is not particularly loved, even by his supporters.

Egypt’s future

I wrote in 2011 that there were no major fault line among Egyptians in Cairo, and sothere would be no civil war. In the last few weeks, it appears thata fault line is developing between pro- and anti-Morsi people.

However, I don’t look at it that way. Despite the clashes between the Armyand Muslim Brotherhood supporters, I’ve little more than political differencesbetween the masses of people supporting Morsi, and the masses of people opposing.According to a number of news stories, the two groups have gone out of theirway to avoid confronting each other violently. It there were real animusbetween the two groups, there would be a hell of a lot more blood in the streets.

What’s really remarkable about the past year was how it proves the basicGenerational Dynamics principle that it’s generations of people, not politicians,that decide great events. In this case, Mohamed Morsi and the MuslimBrotherhood came to power last year. They took control, gave themselvesdictatorial powers, rewrote the constitution, and imposed Sharia law,just as many people had predicted that they would. But look what happened!Morsi’s actions were unacceptable to tens of millions of Egyptians, andnow Morsi is gone, and there’s no Sharia law. In the end, it was themasses of people who decided, not a politician.

So my prediction is that there will NOT be a civil war between pro-and anti-Morsi demonstrators. This political conflict will beresolved somehow — I would not predict how — and life will go on,with no more than isolated instances of violence. I don’t want to belittlethese isolated instances, but my point is that there won’t be all outcivil war.

Finally, as I pointed out in 2011, there is one major fault line inEgypt that has to be considered — the Egyptians in Cairo versus theBedouins in Sinai. (See “12-Feb-11 News — As Egypt’s president Mubarak resigns, tension grows in the Sinai”.) This is a true, genuine fault line,headed for a major confrontation, quite likely toward war. And itwon’t be war between Israel and Egypt. It will be war with Israel andEgypt as allies versus the Bedouins, the al-Qaeda jihadists, andprobably even some of the Gazans.

The long-run Generational Dynamics prediction for the Mideast is a newgenocidal war between Jews and Arabs, refighting the genocidal warbetween Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine in1948, and the creation of the state of Israel. Two years ago, I wrotethat there’s no clear trend that would allow me to predict whose sideEgypt would be on, and that’s still true today.

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