One word for Mubarak: "Leave."
Please see update, below.
Yesterday was, as they say, a day. I didn’t have time to think about Egypt or matters much beyond the end of my nose, and though I wanted to write about how Egypt ’11 is even further from being Iran ’79 (the Islamic Revolution) than it is Iran ’09 (the fallout of the stolen election), I only got to it late last night.
But the good news is that blogger and Israeli-Palestinian peace activist Mitchell Plitnick has kicked it off for me:
The Egyptian MB [Muslim Brotherhood] is not a reactionary, violent group. In fact, although there was a period in their history decades ago where a strain that embraced violence held sway in the group, they have since repeatedly and explicitly renounced violence as a means to their ends and have stuck to that despite the violence they faced from the Egyptian government. Their association with the birth of Hamas is going to be a commonly heard refrain, but it says a lot more about what Hamas was when it was first created (a social and religious network which Israel actually wanted to see grow because they thought that they would be like the MB, a religious counterweight to the secular PLO but less inclined toward armed struggle than the PLO and its Fatah leadership at the time. Little did they know…) than it does about where either Hamas or MB are now.
Indeed, due to the repression of decades, it’s hard to know where the MB stands now. They certainly represent conservative religious values, and, like any opposition group whether religious or secular, their openness to true inclusive democracy may or may not withstand the actual acquisition of power. It’s certain that MB will not favor the sort of cooperation with Israel and the US that has characterized Egyptian policy for 35 years, but how far they would break from the past is unknown.
click through for the whole thing – there are good links, too
Aside from anything else, when Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran, he’d spent years building a following, and had become the symbol — no: the embodiment — of the people’s hopes and dreams. He was joyfully welcomed home by any and all, including people who were entirely secular and had no desire to live in an Islamic Republic (people who’ve gone on to become dissidents) because his charisma and their desperation were such that they believed he could lead them to freedom, and form a government that reflected a national consensus.
At the same time, after some 14 years of exile, Khomeini was known only through the statements and cassette tapes his followers smuggled into Iran. Iranians hadn’t seen him up close and personal for a long time, and so while he was their symbol, he was also something of unknown quantity.
On the other hand: The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is well-known, and fairly ineffective. The movement is officially banned in Egypt, but unofficially tolerated, its “independent” members sometimes allowed to “win” seats in elections, while other times, coming up goose-egg (literally: in 2005, Brotherhood candidates took 88 seats; in 2010, not a one).