Coming Geopolitical Upheaval

Tahrir Square April 8

Take the last two digits of the year in which you were born, then add the age you will be this year – and the result will be 111 for everyone born in the 20th century.

This year will also experience four unusual dates: 1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11/ 11/11/11.

October 2011 will have five Sundays, five Mondays and five Saturdays.

This happens only every 823 years. A geopolitical upheaval in Egypt sans war: every 59 years.

In Cairo, the latest conventional wisdom sees a groundswell of Islamist fundamentalism cloaked in moderate colors moving adroitly center stage. Following elections in the fall, the Muslim Brotherhood is expected to deliver about 40 percent of the vote, possibly even a majority. Either way, it will change the geopolitical calculus for the world’s major players.

In Cairo, the street has spoken. Prudently, a majority of Egypt’s small class of billionaires are abroad. Some of the elder brothers of the Muslim Brotherhood are closer to Iran’s theocrats than they are to America’s democrats. Differences between Sunni and Shiite Islam are lacquered to exploit geopolitical opportunities, e.g., Iran and Hamas in Gaza, Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Behind Cairo’s political stage, says one ranking Egyptian on a private visit to Washington, Iran’s mullahs and Egypt’s Brothers are unobtrusively sidling up.

Four weeks ago, Turkish President Abdullah Gul, a former Islamist, flew to Cairo for a brief meeting with Gen. Hussein Tantawi, chairman of the Military Council ruling Egypt pending elections, followed by a two-hour huddle with Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie.

Recently reborn as the "Party of Freedom and Justice," Badie leads the Muslim Brotherhood in an election campaign that is already under way.

The Obama administration now backs a role for the Muslim Brotherhood in a reformed Egyptian government on condition that it "reject violence and recognizes democratic goals." But it would be terminally naive to expect a friendly bunch of Muslim Brothers on good terms with U.S. diplomats.

In one of his weekly sermons last year, Badie displayed his baddie colors: "Arab and Muslim regimes are betraying their people by failing to confront the Muslims’ real enemies, not only Israel but also the United States. Waging jihad against both of these infidels is a commandment of Allah that cannot be disregarded."

"Governments have no right to stop their people from fighting the United States," Badie continued. And those who do "are disregarding Allah’s commandment to wage Jihad for His sake with (their) money and (their) lives, so that Allah’s word will reign supreme over all non-Muslims."

Badie’s title for this sermon: "The U.S. is Now Experiencing the Beginning of its End."

On other occasions, Badie has reminded his combative flock that "Waging Jihad is Mandatory."

The Egyptian military receives $1.3 billion yearly in U.S. defense aid and equipment. Its role in a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Egyptian foreign policy will be closely monitored by the U.S. Congress. Political Islam is bound to play a larger role than it has for decades. Will Egypt’s generals then begin planning their return to full power?

Mohamed Ghanem, one of the principal Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Egypt, called on Egypt to stop pumping natural gas to Israel and prepare the Egyptian army for war. Other Brothers have deplored the fact that the peace treaty with Israel precludes Egyptian troops in the Sinai, now an integral part of Egypt.

For Israel, a return of Egyptian troops to the Sinai Peninsula would be a casus belli. Twice since the creation of Israel, in 1967 and 1973, Egyptian troops were decimated by the Israel military in the Sinai.

Non-spiritual secularism, according to the Brothers, is tantamount to abandoning Shariah law, "a denial of divine guidance, and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions." Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the organization’s senior spiritual adviser, elaborated that "our integrated Islamic philosophy — properly understood and applied — can replace Western capitalism."

On Jan. 30, 2009, Qaradawi called Hitler’s final solution for the Jews something that "Allah throughout history has imposed upon the Jewish people to punish them for their corruption. And the last punishment was carried out by Hitler." There is little doubt in his mind that more punishment is in the offing.

Qaradawi was banned from both the United States and the United Kingdom after supporting violence against the Western powers when he said, "Those fighting American forces are martyrs given their good intentions since they consider these invading troops an enemy within their territories but without their will."

On April 1, some 3,000 Salafists from Egypt, Turkey, Yemen, Somalia, Kenya and Pakistan, led by the brother of President Anwar Sadat’s assassin, crowded outside Al-Ahram, Egypt’s authoritative daily, to demonstrate solidarity with Egypt’s religious revolutionaries.

Near Luxor, in Upper Egypt, Cairo newspapers reported the story of a Salafist slicing an ear off a Christian who, his accusers said, was running a house of prostitution. Local law enforcement didn’t arrest anyone, saying "state law should handle this." There was no state law available.

Salafists are known as "Early Muslims," descendants of those who died within the first three generations of the Prophet Mohammed’s demise. Everyone else has strayed from the true tenets of Islam. They believe in a literal reading of the Koran and maintain a lifestyle that replicates the early days of the Prophet. Salafi-a-Saaleh, or Pious Predecessors, is what they call themselves.

To give themselves plausible deniability for acts of street violence, the "non-violent" Muslim Brotherhood uses Salafists as shock troops for demonstrations and ensuing riots.

The Muslim Brotherhood has already notified companies that handle some 12 million tourists a year that henceforth all tourism must be "clean" — i.e., no booze.

Asked how he compared the Egyptian and the Libyan crisis, an Egyptian veteran of the past 30 years, replied, "Libya is now Somalia on the Med. What’s happening in Egypt is a major game changer for the United States."

Warning: Watch three ships of state — Egypt, Turkey and Iran — change direction to sail roughly parallel courses. Iran has seen what happened to Libya after it relinquished its nuclear paraphernalia in 2004; it isn’t about to make the same mistake.

Arnaud de Borchgrave, a member of the Atlantic Council, is editor-at-large at UPI and the Washington Times. This column was syndicated by UPI. Photo credit: Reuters.

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