Saturday, January 29, 2011
You ain't seen nothing yet
As of this writing, there are at least 100 dead as Egypt’s crackdown on protestors moves into day 5. Egyptians say their growing protest against the 30-year-rule of President Hosni Mubarak was sparked by the Tunisia uprising that toppled another veteran authoritarian leader two weeks ago. The Mubarak regime seems to following Iran’s merciless but ultimately successful, put down of protestors in 2009 after the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
US support for Mubarak has angered many Egyptians and could lead to Egyptian backed attacks on US targets. Mubarak refuses to step down. The likely outcome at this point is many more deaths.
The protests in Egypt are the first widespread use of social media to do something more than create a flash-mob to shoot a YouTube video.
The Muslim Brotherhood (the Society of the Muslim Brothers) was founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Bana. It is primarily a Sunni organization. Their goal was and is a return to having the Quran and Sunnah (daily rituals) as the guiding law for family, community and state.
It was outlawed in Egypt in 1981 after the assassination of Anwar Sadat. Mubarak took over as president at that time.
It is a conservative group that looks to move away from modern conventions. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait opposes suffrage for women.
Sayyid Qutb wrote the book “Milestones” which called for re-establishing Sharia. Sharia is the sacred law of Islam and is derived from the Quran and the examples of the prophet Muhammad (Sunnah). Osama bin Laden is said to have been influence by Qutb.
The group was outlawed in Egypt. Membership in the Syrian Brotherhood became a capital offense in 1980. In Palestine, the failed Brotherhood morphed into Hamas. Banned in Iraq in 1961, the group has re-emerged after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The Muslim Brotherhood is tolerated in Saudi Arabia.
The Muslim Brotherhood is also active in Algeria, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya. Tunisia, which had an uprising a few weeks ago, has both the Al-Nahda (the Revival or Renaissance Party) and Hizb ut-Tahrir (a group that wants all Islamic countries to unify as caliphates ruled by Islamic law).
There are several Muslim Brotherhood groups active in the United States.
The major for now is centered on the Suez Canal. Two billion barrels of crude oil are shipped through the canal. While Egypt is not a major oil producer, the fear is the unrest could endanger oil shipping. Oil prices have already jumped and we will probably see higher prices at the pump as early as Monday.
The Muslim Brotherhood is widespread meaning unrest could spread throughout the Middle East. Israel has remained silent thus far as there are Muslim Brother chapters in the Jewish state as well. Anything Israel might say could further aggravate unrest or cause groups to target Israeli targets.
This brings us to the final development that has gotten overshadowed by the news in Egypt. Lebanon’s oncoming prime minister, Najib Mikati, is backed by Hezbollah. Mikati, appointed this week after the Shiite Hezbollah toppled the pro-Western government.
In theory, that means Hezbollah has access to the military weapons of Lebanon. These include French anti-tank missiles and US ammunition.
Perhaps this is nothing more than a correction to several Middle Eastern regimes that have grown accustomed to having no serious challengers to their power. Perhaps this is the beginning of a much larger trend of the Muslim Brotherhood to start enacting their agenda.
Some may take this as further proof of a doomsday that has been prophesized. No matter where you find yourself on this debate you have to admit that there are many people that do believe in doomsday prophecies and may see the unrest in Egypt as the beginning of the end.