Crossfire War – CAIRO WATCH – Northeast Africa Theatre: Cairo – Washington – Jerusalem/Alexandria – Aswan – Teheran – Riyadh – Damascus – Tripoli – Khartoum; Political Civil War in Egypt Intensifies with Arrest of Muslim Brotherhood Leadership and Financial Supporters
Night Watch: CAIRO – Political civil war in Egypt intensified with the AFP report of the arrests of some of the senior leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood Friday night. It is a war that has been waged since 1954 when the organization was banned by the government of President Gamal Nassar. Though they agreed on some nationalistic principles, the Muslim Brotherhood has always wanted to establish Islamic law in Muslim countries and have always represented a threat to secular modern society. The area of agreement is about the West, neither the Brotherhood nor modern nationalists want the West to have the influence in the region it used to and is desperately trying to maintain. The Brotherhood was established in 1925, has inspired, and spawned radical Islamic thought and groups ever since including the Palestinian-Iranian Hamas. [ASHARQALAWSAT]
The last Islamic leader closely allied to the West is current Egypt President Hosni Mubarak and these arrests are his desperate attempt to maintain power in his increasingly entrenched position. The House of Saud has not received Mubarak in Riyadh for years but only in the VIP lounge of Jeddah airport. In 1993, Mubarak toured the capitals of the Persian Gulf Emirates in an attempt to isolate Teheran and met with no success. It is Mubarak who is isolated. Though the West has had strategic Operation Bright Star maneuvers with Mubarak in the Eastern Mediterranean for 25 years, since 1982, the West is now more concerned about saving the European units in south Lebanon-UNIFIL, the British and U. S. are bogged down in Baghdad-Basra and fighting is about to resume in the Balkans.
Even the Ayatollah Khomeini came under the Muslim Brotherhood influence during the 1930s as he spent time in the Shiite city Najaf, Iraq and embraced the Brotherhood principle of Ikhwan, whose adherents were ready to kill or be killed in the service of Allah. This philosophy was based on their concept of “purification” of Islamic society by removing “corrupt individuals” including heads of state, which is why the Brotherhood supported the overthrow of Egypt’s King Farouk in 1952 and probably also gave tacit approval to the assassination of President Anwar al-Sadat in 1981 after Sadat shifted Egypt’s allegiance to the West, which is why Sadat’s successor had many Muslim Brotherhood members under arrest during the security crackdown after the assassination. Egyptian military officers led by Lieutenant Khalid Ahmad Shawqi al-Istanbuli though some of the accused were college teachers and students that conducted the assassination. Teheran named a street after the assassin declaring Iran to be the most important regional supporter of any individual or political-military unit against Sadat’s successor.
The Brotherhood benefited, as did other serious and radical Islamic political-religious organizations, during the Islamic revival that took place during the eight year Iran/Iraq War 1980-88, which Washington had Saddam Hussein begin by invading Iran due to the hostage crisis situation with the U. S. Embassy in Teheran. As those purification beliefs and concepts spread every Muslim government, from Rabat to Jakarta eventually made agreements with fundamentalist radical groups in order to maintain power, even Algiers after the 10 year civil war (1992-2002), except Mubarak in Cairo. But equally and perhaps, the most important factor in the Muslim Brotherhood’s popularity is the enormous corruption that is pandemic and pervades Egypt’s established society. It has been admitted, though Egypt did not benefit, as did other Muslim economies, from the explosion of oil revenue in the 1970s, investment capital poured into Egypt from around the world during the same decade and it was invested but exclusively, only a small percentage of the population profited. But Islamic fundamentalist groups retained a hold over the population by supporting the country’s increasingly large and impoverished population through schools, housing and health care, despite their being routinely arrested and harassed by Egyptian authorities.
In this latest wave of detentions, one of the most glaring examples is the case of El Erian, a doctor and one of the senior Brotherhood members whose arrest record goes back to the 1970s. He has actually spent most of his life in jail being first arrested in 1978. Then again in 1981, 1995, 2002, 2005 and 2006. And El Erian is one of the more moderate members. However, during all those years, the Brotherhood was able to gain more seats in the Parliament especially during the November-December 2005 election rounds when the Brotherhood won 88 of the 454 seats, more than 20% not to mention the many government ministers who either openly or privately supports them. Even before the arrests on Friday 40 businesspersons were already under arrest and charged with financing the organization and for being involved in money laundering. The last charge may be just a cover to make it appear the arrests were not political. If found guilty they could be faced with the death penalty.[IKHWANWEB]
That is how serious the situation is in Egypt. President Mubarak is fighting for more than just his political life or his vision of the family dynasty, he no longer mentions his son as his political heir, Mubarak is literally fighting for his life. What changed the situation was the regional war last year, mostly in south Lebanon between Hezbollah/Israel. Hezbollah emerging from the war, not only surviving but also more influential politically, made what they represent more of a threat to Mubarak than to Israel, a popular political movement with a lot of grassroots support with a reputation as being incorruptible. Everyone in and out of the region know the same political forces in Egypt are waiting for this year’s war with Damascus-Teheran entering the conflict and for the express purpose of using the war with Jerusalem to inspire more than just an Egyptian Lieutenant in the artillery. This time, targeting Mubarak, his son and closest aides could be senior officers and with the open support of Tripoli-Khartoum-Riyadh. Units loyal to Mubarak would have been sent to engage Iranian forces in the immediate area. Mubarak will not go down quietly; he will declare war on Teheran, a government he has hated since 1981.