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Middle East circumstances unpredictable, dangerous

June 10, 2012
Mohey Mowafy , The Mining Journal

The recent election results in Egypt, and the infusion of Islamist outsider recruits into ongoing battles of the Arab spring are certainly unnerving to many, not only Arabs, but also to the U.S. and Israel.

All three countries share an ongoing governmental restructuring guaranteed to change their future and quite possibly the world's, at least in the decade to come.

Examining recent happenings such as the Egyptian elections and the Syrian genocide, etc., I believe we should be prepared to formulate fact-based opinion/policies and be more ready to react appropriately to what is developing and what is likely to develop before long, perhaps even before November.

The reasons to be concerned are as many as they are real. Here are just a few examples of how ominous the signs are and how profoundly important it is for us to inject foreign policy into our political debate.

There is far more certainty about caches of chemical weapons in Syria than what we thought about Iraq. There is plausibility that the Syrian map as we now know it (one of the pesky remnants from the fall of the Ottoman Empire) would change.

Furthermore, the genocidal barbarism, which continues to go unabated there, is also becoming a proxy war between Iran and a Saudi/Qatari combo with unmistakable sectarian/tribal underpinning.

And, let's not forget that Libya is still basically without a cohesive infrastructure and is also looking at splitting itself in half. Each of the three examples from what we continue to call the Arab spring seems to show clear signs of a rise in Islamism, which has become the code word for an extremely strident fundamentalism often with violent means to reach its goal of converting humanity to what they claim to be Islam.

Nowhere in any of these countries were the braves who took to the streets motivated by anything religious. They all faced the brutality of tyrants and the savageries of their security apparatuses demanding their dignity. When chaos and lawlessness ensued, the bearded ones with guns and archaic ideology began hijacking what was gained by the secular nationalist braves.

Not all is lost, however. In the recent Egyptian presidential election two candidates surfaced to the top heading for a runoff election in June, because the Islamists (both the moderate and the extremists) could not capture enough votes for either to win.

This is radically different from the results of the earlier parliamentary elections only months ago when they won about 75 percent of the seats.

Half of the electorates voted for the remaining presidential candidates, including generals, secular intellectuals, Socialist Nasserites and some moderate Muslims.

Note the decline in the portion of Egyptians who blindly followed the Brotherhood's slogan "Islam is the answer" before. A somewhat encouraging sign, I think.

However, if by any chance Egypt takes an Islamic detour for a while, we still have to have a productive relationship with Egypt.

This is not a sentimental notion from an Egyptian-born American. It is a recommendation based on undisputable facts known to any serious foreign policy fan here, in Israel, and Egypt.

I know not how long such an Islamic detour Egypt will live before she finds her soul, but we cannot afford disconnecting from the largest Arab Muslim population in the Middle East, most especially when we consider all that which we have already invested in our relationship with her since the early 1950s and irrespective of whether or not our investment was always wise.

The furious criticism the White House faced when a delegate of Egyptian Muslim Brothers were invited for some exploratory chats was unfair and totally misguided. It is never a sign of weakness to talk with those who are not exactly your friends, in fact it is a sign of wisdom and wisdom certainly is the pillar upon which rests authentic strength.

With all of this happening simultaneously with Iran's hunger for eventual supremacy and China's hunger for Muslim oil, I was rather surprised when Russia was labeled our number one global threat.

That actually brought back memories of an election campaign from way back (the 1980s) featuring a bear in the woods. Yes, we are not exactly on friendly terms with Russia, and I do not believe we ever will, but if one weighs in dangers, my bet would be on the Middle East.

Editor's note: Mohey Mowafy is a recently retired professor of health, physical education and recreation at Northern Michigan University.



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