A state of anxiety is haunting many forces in the West regarding the overwhelming desire of the current rulers in Egypt for control and domination. Some have even begun to evoke the Iranian model after the United States helped topple the Shah, allowed Khomeini to lead the masses, and then was surprised by his autocracy and the termination of all his opponents. In Iran, the Shah’s regime suppressed all the civil voices. His regime killed, expelled, and silenced anyone who dared to criticize him. When his regime collapsed, the black turban folks and their supporters were unrivaled in the political scene and consequentially took over.
What is happening in Egypt reminds of the Iranian experience.
Today it is worthy asking whether Western leaders made mistakes in supporting political Islam after the ouster of previous regimes. It was generally acknowledged that that previous autocratic regimes no longer served Western interests they lack popular support at home. Islamists, as the most organized domestic political forces, were seen as the better qualified to serve Western interests by clamping down on Radical extremists and preventing terror attacks against Western and American interests in particular.
The West was counting on the moderate Islamists taking power in the Middle East to embrace hardliners, who are perceived as a threat to Western interests.
But what is actually happening on the ground has started to raise the concerns of Western politicians, who now see the ruling Islamists as providing shelters to their radical brethren.
This is what the British intelligence chief indicated after the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt.
The clear desire of the ruling group to silence the people has aggravated the concerns, and this is what led the former special assistant to U.S. President Barack Obama on the Middle East, Denis Ross, to express his concerns about the behavior of President Mursi and his group towards the media.
In a Washington Post article, Ross wrote: “It is probably no accident that the state media’s tone has changed markedly in the past week — and is far more favorable toward Morsi. None of this means that Egypt’s path of change is foreordained.”
“President Mohamed Mursi, and the Muslim Brotherhood are now firmly controlling the situation, especially after the president’s dismissal of prominent leaders in the army subsequently to the recent events in Sinai.
Ross added that President Mursi and the Brotherhood “will find it hard to escape responsibility for whatever happens in Egypt. The country faces daunting economic challenges; it will need significant outside assistance and private investment. Morsi and the Brotherhood are seeking outside support for their “renaissance plan” to revitalize the economy; after they resisted the conditions for an International Monetary Fund agreement when they were not in power.”
Ross wrote that Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood have to acknowledge the reality regarding their relation with Israel, pointing out to Mursi’ denial of having exchanged contact with Israel President Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Ross, who is currently a consultant at the Washington Institute for Near East Policies, indicated that the Brotherhood “insists on living in its own reality? If nothing else, it’s clear that the group the Brotherhood is wedded to its ideology and cannot admit anything that might call its basic philosophy into question.”
Ross raised the importance of Egypt’s respect for human rights and compliance with international regulations if the country wants the world’s help to revive its economy. But the Ross’ statements also reveal a sense of concern in the West about the new rulers in Cairo.
This article originally appeared in Arab in al-Masry al-Youm