Barry Rubin’s prediction for Egypt: Massive violence

When it comes to the Middle East, I’m hard-put to think of a more astute, knowledgeable observer than Barry Rubin.  In light of the Egyptian court ruling striking down large parts of the recent elections, and the military’s subsequent power move, he’s not sanguine about Egypt’s future:

The Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court has just invalidated the parliamentary election there. The parliament, 75 percent of whose members were Islamists, is being dissolved. The military junta has taken over total authority. The presidential election is still scheduled for a few dozen hours from now.

In short, everything is confused and everything is a mess. All calculations are thrown to the wind. What this appears to be is a new military coup. What is the underlying theme? The armed forces concluded that an Islamist takeover was so dangerous for Egypt and for its own interests that it is better to risk civil war, a bloodbath, and tremendous unpopularity than to remain passive and turn over power. I believe this decision was made very reluctantly and not out of some lust for power by the generals. They have decided that they had no choice.

Yes, it is under legal cover, but nobody is going to see it as a group of judges — appointed by former President Hosni Mubarak, remember — looking deep into the law books and coming up with a carefully reasoned decision based on precedent. In theory, this will be seen by every Islamist — whether Salafi or Muslim Brotherhood — and by most of the liberals — who feel closer to the Islamists than to the government — as if the 2011 revolution has just been reversed. In preparation, the army prepared a new regulation allowing itself arrest anyone.

Prediction: massive violence.

Read the rest here, especially because Rubin tempers that grim conclusion with some speculation about the weird silence with which the Islamists have greeted the events of the last 48 hours.

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  • Earl

    So what’s coming up…….another “night of the long knives”?
    That would explain the silence on the Islamist side…….

  • Kevin_B

    Rubin’s observations sound very reasonable.
    I, too, have a very bleak vision of Egypt’s future. It’s not at all unlikely that Egypt will evolve into another sharia state, much like Iran or Saudi-Arabia. An overtake of the country by the muslim brotherhood and the islamists seems somewhat predestined.

    The islamists could very well be up to something. And it could very well be violent… we know what these guys are capable of. And we know what they’re after. It’s hard to predict where this is heading, but it could well be violence. It seems to be a constant in the history of the islamic world.

    It seems like this might head two ways in Egypt… either a junta-like military government, or the muslim brotherhood and the salafists running things.

    I don’t usually favor juntas, at all. But in this case, it does seem like the army is a better option. They are certainly slightly more reasonable than the islamists. And it seems dictatorship or sharia are pretty much the only two options for islamic countries. I would still prefer a dictator like Mubarak in this case. Either option is bleak, but an islamic rule is still much worse.

    Either way, Egypt will likely go down economically. I would advise all ‘infidels’ to not go to any islamic country as tourists.

    PS: On a different note…I know someone (a western woman) who spends part of the year in the country of Tunisia. She told me she’s hearing a lot of people say things were better under Ben Ali in Tunisia. Perhaps the Mubarak government in Egypt wasn’t all that bad either, after all…

  • Danny Lemieux

    Kevin-B, unfortunately buyer’s remorse is always inevitable after these types of revolutions. I know many Iranians that experienced it after the Shah fell.

    I also wonder about the ability of the Egyptian Army to keep the peace. After all, they rely upon conscripts that reflect the Islamist bent of the society at large.

    Here, incidentally, is a must-read article by Middle East jihad expert Andrew McCarthy on why we should absolutely stay out of the Syria situation.

    There is an adage that says that, when your enemies are in the process of destroying each other, keep your mouth shut and do nothing. Unfortunately, we do have a very American tendency to feel compelled to meddle in other countries’ affairs. As Henry Kissinger put it when the Iraqis and Iranians were going at each other…”too bad they can’t both lose”.

  • jj

    I have no rooted objection to dissolving, forcibly or otherwise, anything that’s 75% Islamist.  The army’s probably a better answer, at least for the time being. 

  • MorowbieJukes

    Egypt imports half of its food and its main source of foreign exchange, tourism, has dramatically dropped due to the violence from its political upheavals.  Other than foreigners coming to marvel at antiquities built millennia before Islam turned the place into a permanent 4th-world backwater, Egypt produces very little of anything else, like virtually every other Islamic country.
    In circumstances like these, the usual historic recourse is to wage aggressive warfare against foreign enemies, real and imagined.  I don’t think they will be foolish enough to attack Israel;  the Islamists certainly want it but the generals of the ruling junta know better.  Should they do so, they can kiss the Suez Canal and the Sinai goodbye; Israel this time will finish the job and annex both.
    So, that leaves their neighbor to the west, Libya.  Libya of course has large oil reserves and a small population (6 million vs. Egypt’s 80 million).  Libya is also in upheaval which provides Egypt with a perfect pretext for an invasion.  Egypt can claim they are invading Libya for “humanitarian” reasons or can confect some border incident claiming that the violence is spilling over into Egypt and they are making a purely defensive measure.  Either way, Egypt de facto annexes Libya and takes control of Libya’s oil resources.

  • 11B40


    Regrettably, muslims killing other muslims no longer greatly upsets me. Apparently, they’ve been busy doing it since the 7th Century A.D. As Fouad Ajami has written, those are the lands of “I against my brother; my brother and I against our cousin; and, my cousin, my brother, and I against the stranger”. And, without the presence of the rare Occupier or Crusader, they quickly revert to what is at hand to fulfill the ‘stranger’ role.

    I try to approach it from a practical standpoint. My high school basketball coach was fond of saying, “You have 32 minutes [referring to the game’s four 8-minute quarters] to figure these people out.” Well, we’ve had more than ten years to figure muslims out and I see neither hide no hair of any serious understanding on the part of our rulers. Perhaps they’re all better Christians than I and plan to “turn the other cheek” them into either submission or a higher level of civilization. But, I see no light bulbs, tungsten or otherwise, going on.

    Iraq would be a pertinent case in point. After all those years, after all our blood, and after all our treasure sacrificed to provide it a better future, what do we see?  Exactly what Mr. Ajami saw. And what don’t we see? Any sign of muslim gratitude. Muslim gratitude, you inquire? Why yes, muslim gratitude. At the risk of turning a phrase, muslim gratitude is like a Missouri-Warhol River; a verbal mile wide, an actual inch deep, and flowing for about 15 minutes.

    The dope plague, in the Bronx of the last ’60s, taught me that some people just cannot be saved from themselves.  Admittedly, it’s a hard and unpleasant lesson to learn but it’s not beyond an adult’s ability. It’s time for us to put on our big boy pants and stop all the weeping and breast-beating about saving muslims from their brothers and their cousins. It’s time to protect ourselves from their dopiest of all dopes.

    Islam is the millstone. If you plan doesn’t include constraining or eradicating Islam, you don’t have a plan. You have a hope.


  • Ymarsakar

    Whenever Democrats get elected, you can bank on getting a few thousand kills overseas. Just “coincidentally”.

  • Jose

    Journalist Michael Totten has reported that Egypt never had a revolution, but in fact, a coup.  The Army ran the country under Mubarak.  They ran the country after he lost power, and they are running it now.
    And I agree with with JJ; better the army than the Islamists.