Written by Barry Rubin
According to the Brotherhood, the almost complete vote counting for president looks like this:
Mohamed Mursi (Brotherhood) 28.4%
Ahmed Shafiq (Mubarak era general) 24.6%
Abdul Moeim Abul Fotouh (so-called “moderate Islamist” but supported by radical Islamist Salafists) ·18.1%
Hamdeen Sabahi (radical anti-American “left” Nasserist) 17.1%
Amr Moussa (radical nationalist pragmatist) 11.6%.
The Brotherhood claims that this means it will win the second round. I’m not 100 percent sure that’s true. It seems possible but not ineevitable. If a second round would be a straight contest between a secularist and an Islamist. Who would voters choose?
After all, according to this the total Islamist vote is around 46 percent, not enough to win. One key question would be where would the Sabahi voters go? Are these people anti-Islamists who like a left-wing (virtually Communist-style) candidate or are they people who want a further-going revolution and might back the Brotherhood candidate?
Here are the two key points, assuming these numbers are correct:
–Once again we have been misled by “experts” and media who slanted coverage toward the alleged popularity of Abul Fotouh. They should have backed secularists and not “moderate Islamists.” There should be some apologies and rethinking but of course that won’t happen.
–Egyptian/Arab nationalism has revived, receiving about 52 percent of the vote! And that means Shafiq could win in the run-off round. And here’s another point of importance: If Egyptians want an alternative to Islamism it will be radical populist nationalism, not moderate cosmopolitan liberalism.
Again: Caution, this is based on figures that might not be accurate.
(winning second round run-off):
Remember that he and the Brotherhood are now not even trying to hide their extremism, openly demanding an immediate Sharia state and a Caliphate.
This would set off a crisis that will dominate the region for a decade or two. This would be a catastrophe equal to and perhaps greater than the Iranian revolution. No exaggeration. If there isn’t a war with Israel within three years (Hamas backed by Egypt or even involving Egypt) it would be a miracle.
Note that what’s most important is not the presidency in isolation but:
–Brotherhood control over parliament and president and writing constitution.
–Brotherhood triumphalism, which we have seen repeatedly, belief in victory leading to arrogance and more extremism.
There will be panic. Christians and liberals will start packing their bags.
(winning second round run-off):
The Islamists have two options, perhaps following both: A. View his victory as a return to the old regime and the overturning of the revolution. There could be real internal disorder and a lot of violence.
B. The Brotherhood and Salafists would still control parliament and constitution-writing. They would set up the system as having a strong prime minister (Muslim Brotherhood selected by parliament) and a weak, ceremonial president.
For his part, Shafiq would try to limit the radicalism, maintain good relations with the United States, and avoid war with Israel.
If the military backed him—and that makes sense—he would be stronger and might succeed.
In this case, though, watch for three things:
–The Brotherhood and Salafists will make life hard for Shafiq. There will be street violence and terrorism against Christians, “modern” women, liberals, tourists, and foreign installations. Will Shafiq call out soldiers to put down each disorder through repression? Would Obama and Europe back him or condemn the military as repressive and undermining democracy?
–The Islamists would help Hamas and very possibly try to stir up a Hamas-Israel conflict in which hysteria would sweep Egypt to fight Israel, painting Shafiq as a traitor for holding back?
–As the economic situation deteriorates, they would blame Shafiq and stir up disorder against him.
Again, remember that a constitution could well be written providing for a strong parliament and prime minister alongside a weak president. That would subvert the election results.
Let me make it clear from the start that this article is based on Muslim Brotherhood statements and leaks. The information may not be accurate. We will not know for sure until Sunday when official tallies are provided.
Article originally published here.
About Barry Rubin
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist for PajamasMedia at http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan)