Egypt is one of my candidates for the role of the next Poland–the next flashpoint that ignites an unexpected larger war, such as occured in 1939 (see my previous post on “The Next War“).
Egypt is among the more secular, “westernized” Islamic nations in the Middle East, but it is a country where the dictatorial nationalist regime maintains control only through political oppression.
Islamism has had a strong presence in Egypt throughout the modern era, and in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhoood was formed. This same organization assassinated moderate president Anwar Sadat in 1981, and despite being nominally banned, it continues to hold a fifth of the seats in the Egyptian parliament!
(For those further interested, The Times of India reports on this issue.)
What worries me most about this is the dichotomy between what is said and what is done, between the apparent and the real. A country that legitimizes a radical Islamic terrorist organization by allowing its members to participate in the government as “independents” is due for a rude awakening, no matter how many sweeps are performed to arrest the Brotherhood’s militants or student leaders.
Whether this turns Egypt into the Poland of the next war is impossible to say just yet. The fate of Islamism in the key regime–Iran–and thus the fate of Pan-Islamism is uncertain. But if the US fails to stop the rise of a nuclear Iran, and Israel refuses to act decisively with the Palestinians, then the cancer of Islamism, which has probably already reached the lymph nodes of Egypt’s culture, may deal a death blow to the Mubarak government–and cause a chain reaction heretofore unanticipated.
Remember, nobody would have predicted that the West would go to war over Poland.