Friday, September 14, 2012

Post Arab Spring

No, it isn't about a low-budget film posted on YouTube by some bogus film maker. The violence we are now seeing in Egypt, Libya and Yemen has to do with long standing power grabs in the Middle East. The movie is just a sound bite for the Western media that doesn't understand history.

One of the "victories" of the Arab Spring (at least in the eyes of the West) was the ouster of President Mubarak who proved to be an exceptionally cruel thug. Things are not always what they seem, especially in the world of foreign affairs.

President Mubarak became the Egyptian leader after President Sadat's assassination in 1981. Sadat is remembered more for his national-building between Egypt and Israel rather than his decisive in the 1973 conflict that re-aquired territory lost to Israel three years earlier.

President Sadat was an unknown who came up under President Nasser. In those days, Egypt was just emerging as a former colony so there was no real mechanism for establishment of a government. The strain ultimately killed Nasser and set the stage for Sadat's ascension.

With some many different factions vying for power, Sadat had to work with some keeping factions. Enter the Muslim Brotherhood. The modern incarnation of the Muslim Brotherhood was formed in Egypt in 1928 as an Islamist group looking to establish a pan-Islamist state in response to British colonialism. The group quickly spread to other North African countries.

The Muslim Brotherhood ends up getting sideways with Nasser when they are accused of an attempted assasination. Nasser abolished the group and imprisoned and tortured its members.

A writer named Sayyid Qutb started to prosthelytize the need to restore Islam by overthrowing modern Islamic states. Other branches of the Muslim brotherhood embraced this ideology but the Egyptian branch maintained a non-violent approach.

After Nasser's death, Sadat enlisted the Muslim Brotherhood to combat leftist groups but the Muslim Brotherhood remained illegal under the Sadat Administration. The signing of the peace accord with Israel led a violent Islamist splinter group to assassinate Sadat.

When Nasser took over, two things occurred. Students disenfranchised with Mubarak's policies joined the Muslim Brotherhood. In response, Mubarak arrested, harassed and basically shut-out the Muslim Brotherhood from the Egyptian politically system.

Continued pressure by the Muslim Brotherhood eventually wore down the political barriers in 2000, 15 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were elected to parliament. Of course, the pressure by the Mubarak administration allowed the more radical elements of the Muslim Brotherhood to assume prominence in the movement.

Mubarak amended the constitution to prohibiting independents from running for parliament. In 2010, all of the Muslim Brotherhood members lost their seats. This set the stage for the Arab Spring, the fall of Mubarak, and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Mubarak and Gaddafi were ruthless thugs that did not hesitate to use violence to suppress opposition. What is often overlooked in condemnation of these thugs is how many other thugs they are keeping at bay so that when they fall, other more violent inevitably follow. The West then wonders out loud, how did that happen?

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