, by DR. S. AUSAF SAIED VASFI
As we rush to the Press, the situation in Egypt continues to remain fluid. But quite certain are two possibilities; Mr. Hosni Mubarak will go sooner or later – unwept and unsung – and Ikhwanul Muslimneen or Muslim Brotherhood would either form the government or be a strong partner in power.
Before dealing with the key issue, let us briefly recall what initially caused, and is causing, the provocation on Arab streets, that started from Tunisia. To tell the truth, there was no single cause. It was the cumulative effect of various causes that forced the volcano to erupt. There were deprivations of various hues, colours and degrees. It was the dearth of basics, abundance of frustrations, including paucity of jobs, police excesses, law and order problem, calculated repression and, above all, the callous authoritarianism, flourishing under decades-long emergency. The Egyptians had become “used to” high-handedness. But the point is: were the governments of Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar al-Sadat democratic? The real problem was all this unfairness had failed to deliver the goods. The authority had killed the ability to hope, capacity to dream and all that goes by the word idealism.
Cairo was being given about $2 billion annually by the US as the so-called military aid, second only to Tel Aviv. But this massively shameful dole had no effect on the life on the street.
Be it Africa or Asia, the regimes over there are, and have been, undemocratic, tyrannical and puppets of the United States, which thrives on the resources of the former. The public in the Arab world understands this too obvious fact but is not in a position to hold mirror to the bosses.
This sad fact has been sapping the self-assurance, self-respect and dignity of the Arabs as a whole, particularly the recipients of the insulting American dole.
Will the coming change in the region, particularly Egypt alter the situation? The latest is: top leadership of the hitherto ruling party has been changed by the tottering Egyptian leader. His much hated son Gamal Mubarak has resigned from the post of party general secretary. The dynastic nature of the outgoing dispensation can be well understood from this fact. The entire executive has resigned. The possibility of a possible military-backed government emerging for the interim period is not being ruled out. The National Association for Change, on the other hand, is being headed by a popular old man, Mr. ElBaredai. He will be assisted by a 5-member committee. Without attaching too much optimism, the commentators have seen this move also with suspicion.
The military has given up its dispassionate observer’s role and now appears to be concerned. Last week, through rash driving, the drivers in uniform killed a dozen citizens of Cairo. Despite fatigue, the irate Arabs at the Tahrir Square have not returned to their homes in a big way. But their presence is thinning.
In the meantime, an unsuccessful attempt has been made on the life of the newly appointed vice president, Mr. Omar Suleiman, who in the past has served Egyptian intelligence as its chief.
Read in this appointment the fact that dictatorships smother the national talent. There are hundred ways to isolate the intelligent, honest and industrious elements from joining political mainstream. One sees this tragedy all over the dictatorships.
Developments in the last 13 days have not, however, dimmed the prospects of the Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen forming the government or joining it as a powerful bloc. What is to be noted is Washington itself has suggested inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood in the coalition that would run the future dispensation in Cairo. All opposition parties have expressed satisfaction with the leadership of ElBardei .
The Ikhwan has publicly asserted it would present its un-threatening face to the west. This assurance is significant and wise, more so because the commentators are cheaper by dozens who, without verifying facts, love to tar the image of Ikhwan. The greatest asset of the Ikhwan is character. They are dependable. They are honest to the core. They are steadfast and have shown perseverance in the past. They are not a commodity that can be purchased or sold in the political bazaar. The Ikhwanees are men of grit and determination. Their entire life is heavily punctuated with sacrifices. Who can forget the sacrifice of Syed Qutb, who, for his unflinching faith in Islam, mounted the gallows, (may Allah shower His blessings upon him), Hasan Al-Banna, Zainab al-Ghazali. There is a long line of those who have been tortured and executed by Nasser and Sadat.
In this regard, however, one cannot but point out the political and administrative inexperience of the Ikhwan. In such cases what happens is that the glorified head-clerks do not hesitate in harassing and bamboozling the Ikhwani green horns and put hurdles in the ministries’ smooth functioning. This has already happened during the Zia regime in Pakistan where four top notches of the Jamaat-e-Islami became ministers but could not come up to popular expectations because of the unhelpful attitude adopted by their motivated subordinates.
BASIS OF OPTIMISM
The Brotherhood has to seriously take a lot of care in this regard. What has to be remembered particularly is that neither Islam nor the Ikhwan is acceptable to the biased west. On each and every step that has to be kept in view by them.
Secondly, an eye has to be kept on the neighbours like Sudan, Morocco, Syria and above all Israel. Weaker sections in the Maghrib can be used to tar the Ikhwan.
In fact, the Ikhwan would remain eternally on the tenterhooks in Egypt. They would remain on trial for their entire life. They have to prove to the hilt – and if they do not prove, who will prove? – what is an ideal Islamic State or what is a model Arab or a Muslim State. They would be always scrutinised through magnifying glasses. They are supposed to establish convincingly what a model Islamic State is; what is Islamic politics; what is Islamic economy; what is Islamic education; what is Islamic diplomacy; and what is Islamic police, intelligence and military. They are supposed to prove how a Muslim is a blessing for his neighbours; what is the Muslim attitude towards women, girl-child, old and infirm. The task before the Ikhwan is stupendous indeed.
Much more than the Ikhwanul Muslimeen, our hopes are with Allah subhanahu wa ta’alaa, Who has sent Islam to lead the world, and not be led by the world. The basis of our optimism from the Ikhwan is that the ethos of Egypt is Islam and the Ikhwan represents that ethos in its pristine purity.