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A very bad Brother act, part II.

NOT EVERYBODY GETS two cracks at a revolution but the Egyptians seem to have been given exactly that, with the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood by the military.

The Bros must be really angry at being removed so quickly, after spending so much time getting themselves organised and lying about their intentions. When the protests first started a couple of years ago, they were the darlings of the western media.

“No, no,” they said, “we have nothing to do with these protests”. Then it turned out they did.

“No, no,” they said, “we have no intention of playing a part in the political process.” Then they formed their own party to take part in the political process.

“No, no,” they said (again), “we have no intention of fielding a candidate for the presidential elections.” Then they did. And won.

They did pretty well for a bunch of liars and got an easy pass from the goons in the media who didn’t see the problem with them (hint: it’s in the two words of their name). And how could the media be wrong when the west’s Messiah in Chief, Obama, cheered them on? The influence of the Brotherhood is strong in Washington: they’re up close and cosy with Hillary Clinton via her personal aide Huma Abedin and her family, for instance, and Obama seems pretty cool with Islam.

TWO YEARS AGO the commentators were ecstatic about a coup that removed the rulers of Egypt. Now they’re upset about a coup that has removed the rulers of Egypt. This time, however, they’re agonising over the purity of democracy. Typically, they seem to think that democracy in and of itself is a guarantee of those nice things we like in the west – human rights, respect for women and children, toleration of a diversity of sexual, political and religious beliefs, a desire to live in peace with one’s neighbours, etc. Considering the Bros take the Koran as their constitution I think we can say that wasn’t going to happen. What did happen under their governance was the persecution of the Coptic Christians, terrorist attacks in the Sinai peninsula, a collapse in tourism, and increasing poverty and hunger.

But now the Brotherhood have been deposed, there are liberal voices saying this will send a signal to all Islamic extremists that the democratic route is a waste of time and thus encourage them to carry on using violence. It’s a plausible idea, from a liberal point of view – which is precisely why I don’t buy it. Call me an old-fashioned racist Islamophobe, but it seems to me that violence saturates Muslim politics and that you can’t have one without the other. Having a vote doesn’t decrease your chances of being butchered on the street.

The furrow-browed western apologists for the Bros, such as Jonathan Freedland, draw parallels with Algeria, where the military prevented the Islamists coming to power via the ballot-box, provoking some intense and vicious bloodletting. Freedland may have a point there, although the two situations may only be superficially similar. He’s way off target, however, when he also mentions Hamas, whom he describes as “internationally shunned”. Hamas, he may wish to recall, are recognised as a terrorist organisation. And so committed to the political process that one of their first acts on gaining power was to chuck their Fatah opponents off rooftops (something Morsi’s supporters have just done to a couple of teenagers who had the democratic temerity not to agree with them). Being internationally shunned is the least of their worries.

So will some Islamists use this as an excuse to renounce the democratic process and carry on killing people who disagree with them? Certainly. Does it make any difference? No, of course not.

And it’s probably worth remembering that the Bros are partly responsible for Mubarak coming to power in the first place. He replaced Sadat, who was assassinated in 1979 – by members of an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

And what was Sadat’s great sin? That’s another element the media have been happy not to talk about very much: Israel. Sadat made a peace treaty with Israel, and thus, placed him in the antechamber of perdition. In all the wars the Arabs conducted against Israel it was the Egyptian army that took the greatest casualties. Sadat had both the intelligence and the courage to see that continuing to war against its neighbour was of no use to his own country. Mubarak maintained that peace. With him gone and the Bros in place, it was likely something was going to change, even though Morsi made conciliatory noises and seemed willing to put aside the Brotherhood’s claim that the state of Israel had no right to exist.

I should think (from my informed vantage point in an armchair thousands of miles away) that the Egyptian military had no desire to find themselves being hammered once again by the Israel Defence Force just to satisfy the Islamists’ lust for Jewish blood, and much preferred the status quo where they kept the show on the road and pocketed the dosh from their multitudinous business ventures. Democracy doesn’t come into it.

I should also think it reasonable to assume they put together a plan for just such a coup as soon as they realised that Mubarak was on his way out and the Bros on their way in. We’ve already seen from their treatment of protestors that the army are happy to stamp on anyone who gets in their way. They’ve already started shooting down Brotherhood supporters in the street. And the Bros are now demanding an intifada.

Nasty business, these revolutions. Best not have too many of them.

Michael Blackburn.


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