Will Egypt Have an Iran-Style Revolution?

I hope not. But seriously, all the ingredients are there-a bitter, fed-up population, an extremely strong muslim group (the Muslim Brotherhood), a powerful army faction…and a healthy hate for the USA.
I fully expect Mubarek to leave…possibly next week (as soon as he finishes checking on his Swiss bank accounts)…and he will probably deprt like the Shah did-on an airliner loaded with loot.
The real question: does Egypt have enough secular leaders 9who are trusted by the population) to enable a transition to some kind of democracy…and not an 'Islamic Republic".
What do you think?

Egypt isn’t Iran. Every scenario unfolds differently.

It is certainly the case that there may be some anti-US backlash for Mubarak being their boy, but it’s not as extreme a situation as the Shah was, and this uprising doesn’t have the same fanatical background.

The other thing is that Egypt has a very popular and influential armed forces; they’re a major player in this, seem to be inclined to take the side of the people, and would likely prefer a stable transition into a reliable government that isn’t going to do anything really stupid. Iran did not have the same thing.

Just about everything I’ve read from reliable sources claims that the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence is very overrated in the West. The Egyptian MB isn’t the Syrian MB. They’ve followed a moderate policy in the last decade or so. They’ve been outlawed in Egypt for years. And they’ve agreed to stand behind an El Baradei interim governorship with the other protesting factions.

El-Baradei is no Khomeini, not even an Ahmadinejad.

True, but often the person who ends up in charge at the end of a revolution wasn’t a major player at the beginning. Khomeini wasn’t; neither were Lenin, Napoleon or Cromwell.

None of the protests have emphasized either Islamic themes or anti-US themes. Compared to the protestors as a whole, the Islamic Brotherhood is a small voice.

I think that’s the big fear right now…that Obama will be the president who lost Egypt as a major ally in the same way that Carter lost Egypt (whether this analysis is right or fair is a different matter). I’ve seen a lot of news articles that speak to this.

I don’t know how likely Egypt is to break into an ‘Iran-Style Revolution’ (I don’t believe that the Egyptians have the same level of hatred or distrust of the US as the Iranian revolutionaries did, but that’s just my gut feeling…I actually haven’t been to Egypt except as a tourist once). My guess is that it’s not too likely that the revolution will come from fundamentalist religious directions, but you never know. The real question from the US’s perspective is…what, if anything, should we do about it? What, if anything CAN we do about it?


Honestly, I think Obama’s done about the right thing (from what we publicly know) so far; insist on a transition to democracy without shouting about how Mubarak must go.

The main difference is that in the Iranian revolution, there was a main central figure who had been opposing the regime of the Monarch for nearly 15 years. In Egypt, although the Muslim brotherhood is an organised force, it has no charismatic leader who seems yet to inheirit the mantle Mubarak left them.

I’m hoping to God, El Baradei takes over.

Obama is pretty powerless to do anything. Reporters on the ground are claiming there has been more and more anti US sentiment screamed during the rioting. Th people know we have had a heavy hand in the Middle East for decades.
Mubarak has not set up a system of peaceful governmental change. He had no VP . He wanted to have his son succeed his rule. He did not do much right.

It won’t be an Islamic revolution if it happens but it will have an Islamic component. A significant chunk of Egyptians would vote for the Muslim Brotherhood if given the opportunity (in the 2005 election when MB candidates were allowed to stand in 20% of Egyptian districts they swept the board) so any parliament representative of Egyptians would contain a strong MB/Islamist component. But it won’t look anything like Iran circe 1980 even if the Brothers win the majority of votes.

Am I the only one who raises a brow in pure, utter cynicism at the sound of the term “reliable sources”?

I’ve been lookng around to find the US establishment’s position of the prospect of change in the Middle East and I cam across an article which shows what a bunch of clowns we have running our foreign policy. Some excerpts from it :

As events rapidly unfold, no one at Foggy Bottom or the White House can afford to ignore Jimmy Carter’s greatest foreign policy blunder when he abandoned the Shah to the Persian street.

Carter was slaughtered in the US media for “allowing Iran to fall” in 1979. I still am waiting for somebody to explain exactly what he could have done to keep our pet dictator in power. Invade Iran and face an insurgency made up of 50 million Iranians and supplied by the Soviets with a US army still shattered from the defeat in Vietnam? (In Iraq we couldn’t defeat an insurgency derived from 5 million Sunnis.) How advantageous would it have been for America to launch an indefinite occupation of a country that hated us with a passion in a region that hated us?

The United States has far too much at stake in the Middle East to commit another mother of all mistakes again – especially in Egypt. Indecisive “on the one hand… on the other hand” diplomacy could have the unintended result of tossing the Mubarak regime possibly right into the ever-waiting hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, if no acceptable democratic secularist emerges.

Acceptable to whom exactly? We have a veto on whether somebody can take office or not in another country? If we continue to want to pick and choose leaders, like in the case of not liking Hamas, how is that going to affect our situation and the situations of the regional dictatorships we prop up?

*while Mubarak is reviled, he is not held in the same contempt as was Tunisia’s Ben Ali. *

You could have fooled me. I mean, come on, who is he trying to kid here?

The rest of it is just more of the same :

Unless you’re reading or watching more recent coverage than I’ve seen, this isn’t quite right. The MB leadership appears willing to work with El Baradei in negotiations with the army and for the transition to a new government, and is fine with him serving in a new government, but is conspicuously silent when asked if they would accept him as a new President or head of government. This is what I’m getting from RFE/RL’s article on the MB, dated today and based upon their interview with MB leaders: http://www.rferl.org/content/muslim_brotherhood_feature/2293237.html

That said, I agree with most of what you’re saying - MB seems to be working hard to strike a moderate, we’re-just-one-political-voice-in-a-pluralistic-society-and-happy-to-be-that-way tone. Whether they actually mean it - ah, that’s the rub.

This from a man who can’t tell Turkey from Lebanon. Cynicism is not a substitute for knowledge.

Ad hominem attack noted and duly filed in its proper place.

We are a major superpower…we ALWAYS have options. The choice (for us) is whether to do nothing and then take our chances that whoever comes into power maintains some sort of relationship with us, or whether we lose all influence and any semblance of a working relationship with a country that is in a location that has vital national strategic implications to the US (and to a bunch of other countries as well, including on that has a border with Egypt). Or, if we try to exert some pressure to try and influence events and guide the outcome, as much as is possible. Or, fully support the current regime in keeping a lid on things and maintaining the status quo.

The point is, we always have options, even if the option is to just let the current regime hang and hope for the best, a la Iran and the Shah.


“Yet the sad fact is that an overwhelming proportion of Egypt’s populace supports Islamic fundamentalists.
When asked which they preferred, 59% said Islamists and 27% said modernizers, according to the latest Pew poll from last February

(quote is from an editorial opinion in today’s Jerusalem Post, an English-language newspaper published in Israel)

The poll was apparently taken a year ago, when there was no reason to assume that this week’s revolution would actually be a realistic possiblity…So when given a purely hypothetical choice, the Egyptian people prefer Islamism over modernity by a huge majority .

Yes, I know…it’s only a poll.
I don’t know how it was worded in Arabic, and I dont know how accurate it is. But it is entirely reasonable, and ,and I think, very likely to be true.The Muslim Brotherhood is currently playing its cards quietly, but they are quite likely to become the major political party in Egypt after the dust settles.
For those who like to point out that Egypt is not Iran…perhaps we should rephrase the sentence as “Egypt is not Iran…YET.”

Can someone explain to me why the fuck is El Braradei suddenly praised by everyone (and apparently even in Egypt)? The guy was a technocrat that spent most of his time working outside of Egypt. He never showed any prominent political stance before, and no remarkable anti-Mubarak stance neither.
Why is he being set up as the solution? He has all the marks of a Western puppet (even if he proves he wasnt in the future, that’s how he looks today).
I cant imagine any revolution welcoming a person so remote from the actual events. It looks like a Duvalier: “oh, my almost forgotten-by-me country is in shambles, why dont I go there and try to find myself a nice position”.

I know it’s supposed to watch over the transition of the regime, and not to become Egypt’s next president (though that might actually happen), but even there, the guy’s got no fucking legitimacy in this. Why not Boutros-Ghali if we’re looking for out-of-touch inept technocrats?

I think the setup is good for all involved assuming Egypt does want to modernize and democratize. I would want a guy who can communicate to West and I’m not sure how can he be seen as a puppet considering his principled stance (with Hans Blix) re: Iraqi WMD.

On top of that, Arabs could use a break with someone who is respected in the West and smart and everything that is opposite of the typical image of an Arab in US (including filthy, undeservingly rich Saudis).

Also, Boutros is 20 years older (even older than Mubarak).