Poverty will breed chaos in Egypt

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists are the likely beneficiaries of an Egyptian economic collapse.

The Egyptian electorate has just chosen a member of the Muslim Brotherhood to be president. Earlier, they had elected an overwhelmingly fundamentalist parliament. Were it not for the armed forces, Egypt would be on its way to joining the "one person, one vote, one time" group of elected civilian dictatorships.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, however, has gotten the Supreme Court to dissolve the parliament and has changed the constitutional rules to strip the president of almost all powers. Thus it would seem that the country is following the path of Kemalist Turkey, with the armed forces ruling behind a civilian facade.

In and of itself, this would be not such a bad thing, and perhaps the best alternative for Israel, were it not for one factor everyone seems to have forgotten about: the country is bankrupt, with reserves to cover imports, including vital foodstuffs, for perhaps two months. When the masses go hungry, are they more likely to blame a powerless president and a non-existent parliament or the real rulers of the country, the Supreme Council?

The question answers itself. The country will descend into violent chaos, the likely beneficiaries of which are precisely the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists. Then will the vendettas begin; then will the Brotherhood take over and immediately revoke the peace treaty with Israel and support the Hamas government in Gaza.

Had the Brotherhood been allowed to take executive and legislative power, THEY would have been blamed. "Be careful what you wish for--you might get it."

Response to reader feedback: Israel's advantage

Some of the feedback on my recent op-ed piece in "Globes" on Israel and the decline in US power indicated a desire to learn more about how Israel can take advantage of the present chaotic international situation.

Since the hegemonic position of the United States is under severe stress, the US has desperate need of reliable allies in various parts of the world. In the Middle East this means Israel, since former allies such as Egypt and Turkey have to various degrees fallen away. Thus, for the first time since 1948, the US needs Israel as much if not more than Israel needs the US. This puts Israel in a much stronger bargaining position than ever before and greatly enhances its freedom of action.

Similarly the fact that Europe is imploding means that little attention will be paid by those countries to anything outside their borders. Thus for the foreseeable future European opinion can be safely ignored.

Finally, countries with a distinctly pro-Israel orientation, such as India and Canada will have enhanced freedom to cooperate with Israel.

Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft at The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC, and a lecturer at The Israeli National Defense College (MABAL), 2011-2012 session.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 5, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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