Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | January 31, 2011

Tunisia Too: The “YMCA” Factor

The stakes in the unrest in Northern Africa are crystallizing. I remain convinced that the riots in Tunisia and Egypt originated with the people’s genuine frustration and desire for greater freedom and self-determination. I don’t see evidence that their uprisings were fomented artificially by the agents of a centralized international organization.

But the leader figures emerging in both nations have long associations with the Muslim Brotherhood, and are being backed by it now. Two such instances make a pattern, particularly in the wake of Hezbollah’s takeover in Lebanon. The caution that we do not yet know the outcome in either African nation is always well advised – but there is no national voice, no coherent political body, no identifiable trend competing with the unique visibility of Mohamed ElBaradei in Egypt and Rachid Ghannouchi in Tunisia.

Ghannouchi originally told sympathizers that he intended to sit out the Tunisian uprising on his perch in London. He returned to Tunisia yesterday, however, met by cheering crowds after his 22-year exile. He now states that he has no interest in assuming a political role in Tunisia’s new government. But in explaining his brand of Islamism to the Western media, he chose to compare himself to Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey – not only a prime minister, but the leader of an Islamist party seeking to roll back Turkey’s long-cultivated secularism and non-ideological modernism. (H/t: Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report)

The Muslim Brotherhood is not a modern incarnation of the Bolsheviks, or even of the Ba’athists; its core focus has not been on seizing the reins of power through the mechanisms of the traditional nation-state. Its activities will not necessarily be recognizable to us on the outline of 20th-century revolutions. But we should not let this blind us to the Muslim Brotherhood’s radicalism or the political role it has played in many Muslim nations. If the tottering governments of Tunisia and Egypt cannot organize an alternative public consensus that competes effectively with the Muslim Brotherhood’s resources and mystique, the Brotherhood will have the opportunity it needs to put down roots in political power.

In many ways, the model of what we might expect to see can be found in Hezbollah. Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, Shia and Sunni, represent different eschatological and geopolitical perspectives on the Middle East and the future of Islam. But Hezbollah’s profile in terrorism, radicalism, and politics is a pattern natural to the region. If the Muslim Brotherhood gains a minority foothold in the national governments of Egypt and Tunisia, as Hezbollah did in Lebanon, its political future is likely to unfold much as Hezbollah’s has.

My sense today is that the time is not yet ripe for Muslim Brotherhood-sponsored coalitions to take over Egypt and Tunisia outright, as Hezbollah did in Lebanon this month. I suspect the most likely outcome is that, for the time being, Brotherhood-backed politicians will seek to form coalitions incorporating “moderates,” whose names and histories are reassuring to America, Europe, and the global traders of the Far East. Developments like this are virtually guaranteed to keep the Western media quiet – or, indeed, to get them clapping and cheering. Not that they need much encouragement; the Washington Post, in an act of gratuitous fatuity, yesterday delivered this throw-away characterization: “Inspired by the YMCA when it was founded in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood has been under a ban since 1948…” (H/t: Meryl Yourish, Barry Rubin.)

But the Muslim Brotherhood momentum is building, and with each passing day, evidence mounts that the only organized alternative to it is the sclerotic dictatorships now breathing their last.  Those who predicted that it was not safe to allow Hezbollah into a coalition government have been proved correct: Hezbollah has not been domesticated. It had no fealty to the consensus, multi-faction “unity” concept for Lebanon, and has now done away with that fiction. The Muslim Brotherhood is an equally radical organization (see here and here, for example)  – it has trained, indoctrinated, and funded terrorists for decades – and the outcome of its inclusion in coalition governments will be the same.

J.E. Dyer blogs at Hot Air’s Green Room and Commentary’s “contentions.”  She writes a weekly column for Patheos.



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JT, J.E. Dyer. J.E. Dyer said: Tunisia Too: The “YMCA” Factor: May latest at TOC on Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Egypt, Tunisia… […]

  2. I’d feel better if you were running foreign policy rather than the current softheaded crowd in DC, since at least then I’d know there would be some quid for our continued foreign aid quo.

    • lie down until the feeling passes. the people in DC are a lot less soft of heart and head than you might imagine. they also know a heck of a lot more, although they probably guess as badly and as often as the opticon about the stuff of which they know little.

  3. Caroline Glick, in her latest column Clueless in Washington observes;

    “According to a Pew opinion survey of Egyptians from June 2010, 59 percent said they back Islamists. Only 27% said they back modernizers. Half of Egyptians support Hamas. Thirty percent support Hizbullah and 20% support al Qaida.

    Moreover, 95% of them would welcome Islamic influence over their politics. When this preference is translated into actual government policy, it is clear that the Islam they support is the al Qaida Salafist version.

    Eighty two percent of Egyptians support executing adulterers by stoning, 77% support whipping and cutting the hands off thieves. 84% (!) support executing any Muslim who changes his religion.”

    She opines that, “the US has no idea what it is doing. The reason the world’s only (quickly declining) superpower is riding blind is because its leaders are trapped between two irrational, narcissistic policy paradigms and they can’t see their way past them.”

    Nor will those two policy paradigms change anytime soon, which means things are going to get worse. Not right away but much sooner than we’d like.

    I think the Iranian timetable for achieving a viable nuclear weapons capability is shortly before our 2012 election…

    • that same survey asked people in Egypt (and elsewhere) about whether they were against Iran developing nuclear weaponry and if they supported tougher sanctions and Iran and if they would consider military action against Iran to stop the weapons program.

      Egyptians came in at 72% Tougher Sanctions and 55% Military Action

      which was about the same as Britain, France, Spain and Germany.

  4. and while I don’t know what you mean by a “viable nuclear weapons capability”,

    I’m sure that you don’t mean that they’ll have an actual reliably working bomb mounted on a rocket that they can aim over distance until several years after 2012.

    • You are correct fuster, I do not mean a nuclear launch capability. Though they’ll achieve that sooner than later.

      A viable nuclear capability means the possession of nukes and initially, merely the ability to deliver them over short distances, which is all that is needed to be a ‘game changer’.

      Iran doesn’t want nukes so that they can nuke us by launching missiles, that’s not going to happen.

      They want nukes for a variety of reasons; to gain the means for the eventual destruction of Israel. To greatly bolster their claim to Islamic leadership. As deterrence against conventional military confrontation which is the greatest possible impediment to their goals.

      Nukes would permit greatly increased latitude in the options available to conduct a more aggressive campaign to secure greater regional influence. It will allow Iran to pressure Europe into admitting Turkey into the EU, which will open the flood gates to Muslim immigration. Resulting in the expansion of Dar-al-Islam into Eastern & Western Europe.

      Iran’s leadership has been consistently open about its goal; world-wide shariah. It’s the only way to prevent Islam’s extinction.

  5. Sorry: hit the send button too soon.

    And an Egyptian revolution will completely change the dynamics of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Fuster is right: the Egyptians are opposed to the Iranians having the nuke. But that’s not because the Egyptians are against the theocracy in Iran. It’s because the Iranians are Persians, not Arabs. So now the Egyptians will seek their own nukes. And that of course will lead to a Turkish push for its own nukes. All of this will permit Obama to do what he really wants to do: have an excuse to get out of the Middle East, let Israel be pushed into the sea, and let the bad boy fundamentalists go nuts. After all, who need oil — we’re going to have solar shingles, some day.

    Now some would say that Obama will be accused of “losing” Egypt, Turkey, etc. But that’s not fair to him — it’s really beyond his control, particularly if he’s not trying. And those old days of there being political consequences to “losing” China are long gone. In modern America, all that counts is that we not have casualties. So the only fear that Obama has is that the Egyptian radicals will take Americans hostage — he may be a clone of Jimmy Carter, but he’s no fool. So Obama will commit all the forces necessary to get every last American out of Egypt. But other than that, no threat, or use, of force.

    In the end, I suspect the only regret in the White House will be that Michelle and the kids won’t get to visit the pyramids.

  6. Oops, I guess the first part of my message never got sent.

    I started to say: Let’s look at this from Obama’s spin perspective. Like the US financial crisis of a few years ago, Egypt is too good a crisis to waste. And like then, Obama is sitting back, waiting for events to happen and then spin them to his benefit.

    First, he knows that it is likely that, within a relatively short period of time, the radical religious fundamentalists will take control in Egypt. Why do I think that he won’t be losing too much sleep over that development?

    Second, the Egyptian revolution will help him make his dream/nightmare for Israel come true. The Egyptian radicals will certainly, and even the “moderates” will likely, tear up/ignore the 1979 Egypt/Israel Peace Treaty. And Obama will be able to force Israel into accepting a Palestinian state. Lots of tut-tutting by Obama on that front.

    And then back to my earlier post . . .

  7. Egypt will become one of the allies mentioned in Ezekiel Chs 38 and Ch 39. Also, I think it was in IS ch 4 maybe Ch 17, that the Egyptians will have experience a huge “In-house” fighting situation.

    Also, they get “mildly”, if there’s such a thing, mildly “nuked” by Israel.

  8. America has to maintain its relationship with Israel, whether we like them or not.

    A must read on this subject is: “As America Has Done to Israel” by John P. McTernan

  9. Gregory Kasper — welcome! Apologies that your first comments had to go through the vetting process. Keeps down the spam. You’re an “approved” commenter now, so please don’t be scarce around here.

    Darkness — bummer, I don’t see any unposted comments from you. I absolutely hate it when I’ve labored through a comment and it goes off in the ether somewhere. I do think you’ve made a series of excellent points. What we’re seeing now is what I wrote about back in 2009 in my “Next Phase of World War IV” series.

    If you’re right about Obama being perfectly happy with an Islamist takeover, Michelle and the girls may get to see those pyramids yet.

  10. Despite the fact he took courses with Said and associated with Khalidi, I still don’t think Obama understands the real import of this, Yes El Minya will likely become a rival to Bushehr, The dangers of the IM, have already been clearly seen in the likes
    of Sheik Rahman, Zawahiri, Seif Al Adel, and a whole host of other characters

  11. […] Egypt. In their different ways, Jordan, Algeria, and Yemen have all, in the past 48 hours, joined Tunisia in opening doors formerly closed to the Muslim Brotherhood. There is a great deal at stake, but the […]

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