The political situation in Egypt seemingly changes by the hour. The CJN spoke with three Middle East experts and a student who recently spent time in the country to get their opinions on what has become a fluid and potentially dangerous situation for the region.
(Media-Newswire.com) - The political situation in Egypt seemingly changes by the hour. The CJN spoke with three Middle East experts and a student who recently spent time in the country to get their opinions on what has become a fluid and potentially dangerous situation for the region.
Sydney Silverstein, 20, is an international studies major at Brown University who spent last semester at American University in Cairo. During her stay, she met young Egyptians who idly discussed supporting a revolution against what was deemed an entrenched authoritarian regime.
Still, Silverstein was surprised how quickly things escalated. She believes Egypt’s unrest may have been at least partially fomented by similar action in Tunisia that resulted in the ouster of its president.
“Nobody expected this to be so quick and strong and the momentum to be as forceful as it’s become,” she says.
Amos Guiora, a terrorism expert and former Case Western Reserve University professor who now teaches law at the University of Utah, believes the current unrest exploded in the face of years of poverty, job loss, “a fundamental lack of democracy,” and the simmering radicalism of the country’s Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. “This ( revolt ) was a long time in coming,” Guiora says. “The ramifications ( in the Middle East ) could be huge.”
Mass demonstrations seeking to expel Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak appear to have won support from every element of society, says Peter Haas, Abba Hillel Silver professor of Jewish studies at Case Western Reserve University. Mubarak has announced he will not seek re-election during the next presidential race in September.
If Mubarak is out, who will fill the void in leadership? Dennis Seaman, president of the Cleveland Chapter of the Zionist Organization of America, fears if Mubarak is “taken out,” the Muslim Brotherhood, the “strongest and most organized political force in the region,” will fill the power vacuum.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which spawned Hamas and other terrorist groups, follows Salafi Islamic fundamentalism and believes in Muslim world domination, says Seaman. If the Brotherhood should seize power, “everything that Israel and the United States has attempted in terms of bringing peace to the Middle East will go up in flames. Egypt will be another Islamist state,” a country where terrorist groups like Al Qaeda could take root.
Other more moderate leaders that could emerge include the newly appointed vice president Omar Suleiman or leading opposition figure Mohammed ElBaradei, the former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, says Haas.
“If the moderates win, Egypt won’t change that much in relation to Israel,” adds the professor.
As a longstanding ally of Mubarak, the U.S. government has been playing both sides of the crisis, Haas notes. The U.S. wants stability in Egypt but also is promoting democratic ideals.
“If the U.S. government decides Mubarak is going to lose this, we would rather the world see us as on the side of the people,” he says. “The U.S. is caught in a bind.”
The rest of the Arab world is watching closely, says Haas. There have been similar riots in Algeria, a virtual civil war is going on in Yemen, Lebanon is on the brink of civil war, and a new prime minister has just been appointed in Jordan.
“It could be very interesting in the entire region, but also very frightening,” Haas says. “If Mubarak is toppled and the whole government falls and power doesn’t pass to Suleiman and the Muslim Brotherhood is in play – I could not predict who would come out on top.”
With reports from Arlene Fine and Marilyn H. Karfeld.
This story was released on 2011-02-08. Please make sure to visit the official company or organization web site to learn more about the original release date. See our disclaimer for additional information.