Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Things You Need To Know About the Middle East, December 2010

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
29 December '10

(A regional roundup. Y.)

The Egyptian government so arranged the parliamentary elections that the share of seats held by the opposition declined from 20 percent for Muslim Brotherhood supporters alone to only 3 percent for all of the half-dozen opposition parties put together. In other words, the regime didn't just steal the election--which it does regularly--it over-stole the balloting. One can sympathize with the idea of the current government of President Husni Mubarak not wanting the revolutionary Islamists from taking power, and one can understand how the regime wants a nice stable situation for the succession next year presumably to Husni's son Gamal.

But they overdid it.

What is worrisome here is that by showing the Muslim Brotherhood that even if it bows its head to repression (with 1,000 members arrested in the days leading up to the election) it won't even get the tiniest crumbs from the government. And that seems to mean--judging from Supreme Guide Muhammad Badi's hardline statements even earlier (see here and here)--that the group may step up efforts to overthrow the regime. There's no question of violence in the near-term, but what about four or six or eight years down the road, especially if Gamal falters as president or the ruling elite splits in factional disputes.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that we've been told by some that the Brotherhoods are really moderate and deserve to be engaged in dialogue, the Jordanian branch has now called on Arab governments to send their armies to Afghanistan in a Jihad to kill Americans and other NATO forces there . When one actually looks at the materials in Arabic of the Egyptian or Jordanian Brotherhoods or their sister organization Hamas, one finds an extremist rhetoric not that much different from al-Qaida's ideology, though not that group's tactics...yet.

(Read full "Things You Need To Know About the Middle East, December 2010")

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