Many leftie friends and acquaintances are understandably excited about the revolutionary situation in Egypt. ‘Solidarity with the people of Egypt‘ is the Facebook status update de jour.
Of course, it is pleasing to see a peaceful, popular uprising against a dictator. But this must have been exactly how idealistic outsiders viewed events in Iran in 1978 and 1979.
If the ousting of Mubarak leads to the establishment of a Muslim Brotherhood government then there will be little to celebrate.
I suppose the supposed moderation of the Muslim Brotherhood may be proven true and Egypt could turn into something more akin to Turkey – a reasonably democratic state with an elected moderate Islamist party in power abiding by the constitution whilst the army remains a major political player.
But even a moderately Islamist Egypt would be an unwelcome development, considering Egypt’s border with Israel and Gaza.
For many years Egypt has been bribed by the US into accepting Israel’s right to exist. If that key foreign policy assumption changes then things could get even messier in the Middle East, which won’t be good for anybody.
Revolutionary situations tend to favour a military strongman (England 1648, France 1790s, Spain 1936) or ideological fanatics (Russia 1917, Iran 1979). It will be fascinating to see what happens next in Egypt.