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Secular sell-out: Islamist lobby directs US policy in Egypt

Published time: February 23, 2012 01:59
Edited time: February 23, 2012 05:59

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood member of parliament Saad al-Katatni greets another MP during parliament's first session (AFP Photo / Asmaa Waguih / Pool)

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Egypt’s ex-president Hosni Mubarak is standing trial for ordering a crackdown on crowds during the 2011 revolt and faces the death penalty if found guilty. The date for the verdict is set for June but the battle for power in Egypt has already begun.

­Walid Phares, an anti-terrorism advisor to the US government, believes that Egypt’s revolt, which started as a protest by the masses, was hijacked by organized groups.

“On the first few days of the revolt last year we clearly saw that these were youth, secular, laptop people, Facebook people, women, minorities, middle class, labor and all that – not the traditional political parties including the Muslim Brotherhood or Wafd [Party], or the others,” he told RT. “But once Tahrir Square was consolidated, then the regular political forces came in, including the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Phares points out that there is one crucial difference between the ordinary people who made the revolution and those who basically hijacked it, namely various Islamist forces, including the Muslim Brotherhood. The difference is that the latter enjoy generous support from the Gulf States in the form of petrodollars, satellite telecommunication and so on. This difference will play a decisive role when the time for the election comes, and those most organized and better funded will take over.

With all that, Walid Phares, went on to explain, the Muslim Brotherhood do not even have to put forward their own presidential candidate to be in control.

“They know that if they put [their own presidential] candidate, [their rivals] are going to create a coalition against them,” he said. “They may also signal to the West that they are going to be tough in terms of implementing the agenda. So what they are saying – and not saying – is that they are going to be in control of the cabinet, of the government, including very sensitive ministries…but the president could be an ally.”

Phares believes that the future president of Egypt will not be an anti-Muslim-Brotherhood president, but he does not have to be one of them either, or from one of their allied parties.

And yet, perhaps, the most intriguing feature of the ongoing race for power in Egypt is those back-door games that take place as far from Cairo as in Washington. According to Phares, there is a powerful Islamist lobby within the American presidential administration itself.

“There are NGOs…known as lobbies, or pressure groups, which are trying to influence the [Obama] administration, so that they would be in line with the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Islamists in Libya and in Tunisia, and against the secular and liberal forces in the region,” the advisor explained.

Meanwhile, supporters of the former president demonstrated alongside anti-Mubarak protesters on Wednesday outside the Cairo police academy where he is standing trial. Mubarak, who is now 83 years old, ran Egypt for 30 years. He is accused of complicity in the killing of protesters during the 18-day civilian uprising that pushed him from power in February 2011.

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