Reports coming out of Egypt suggest that when the nation’s official election results are announced, Hosni Mubarak’s former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq – and not the Muslim Brotherhood-backed candidate widely declared to have won – will be formally named president.
The Jerusalem Post and other outlets report that the situation in Cairo is tense because Shafiq will be declared the winner with 50.7 percent of the vote.
The news comes despite claims by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohamed Morsi that Morsi won in the second round of voting.
The official results were supposed to be announced earlier in the week, but authorities postponed it, setting off a wave of accusations aimed at all sides.
Morsi is calling on the military to surrender power to a national government.
Middle East analyst and terrorism expert Harvey Kushner says that Egypt’s situation is volatile, but there are some benefits to military control.
“That’s a difficult situation, and I don’t know if anyone knows the answer to that,” Kushner said. “Still, I believe it would be better for the West if the military was in control.”
Kushner adds that even with military control, the Muslim Brotherhood cannot be ignored.
“The Muslim Brotherhood is well organized and they have significant support. Some polls say their support is from 50 percent of the people or more,” Kushner said.
Kushner says that whether it’s the military or the Muslim Brotherhood, prospects aren’t good for a democratic Egypt.
“Unless they all change their behavior and change their policies for more of a 21st century government, prospects aren’t good for a democratic Egypt,” Kushner said.
The military took control of the nation unilaterally, and action that supports Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipe’s statement, reported by WND in May, that the military actually controls Egypt.
“It’s the military. The military runs Egypt. It’s run Egypt for 60 years,” Pipes said.
“Yet the military and the Muslim Brotherhood have a long history of cooperation, but at the same time they’re rivals. Tensions have increased over the past year,” Pipes said. “Yet it’s still a military dictatorship as it was under Mubarak, Sadat and Nasser.”
Human rights group International Christian Concern Middle East analyst Aidan Clay says the Copts are in for a difficult time no matter who is in control, because the military’s dissolution of parliament had little impact.
“On Sunday evening, just after the elections ended, the military announced a constitutional declaration that expands their power over a civilian government, degrades the presidency to a subservient role and grants them authority to draft a new constitution,” Clay said. “The move extends the military council’s hold on legislative power and raises new doubts about the military’s promise to hand over power to a civilian government by the end of June.”
Clay believes that the military intervened because a Muslim Brotherhood-backed government would be disastrous.
“What this means is, as some speculate, that an Islamist takeover was so dangerous for the country that the military had to step in – willing to risk civil war –rather than to remain passive and turn over power,” Clay said. “Others believe that the military is simply trying to regain control by staging a potential military coup. More than likely, both reasons are true, but at stake are the very ideals that brought hundreds of thousands of Egyptians to the streets to protest authoritarian rule in Egypt’s revolution.”
Clay adds that military control means a return to the status quo before the “revolution.”
“If the military were to regain power, then it would be as if the revolution never happened. Some 2,000 people who were killed during the protests may have died for nothing. This scenario, however, is what many Christians are hoping for,” Clay said. “Islamists who have gained power since the revolution have done nothing for Christians. Instead, Christians have seen their churches burned and destroyed and many of their fellow brethren suffer from severe persecution or killed.”
Clay adds that the Christian population will still continue to dwindle.
“Some recent reports from Egypt said that 200,000 Christians left or are waiting to leave Egypt due to the threats they receive on a daily basis,” Clay said.
Clay says analysts are speculating that a military coup isn’t justified, even if the takeover protects the Christian community.
“A similar situation occurred in Algeria when the army staged a coup just before elections to stop the Islamic Salvation Front from gaining victory in 1991,” Clay said. “The result was that 150,000-200,000 people were killed in a decade-long civil war. Like in Algeria, Egypt’s Islamists will not back down quietly, considering that more than 50 percent of Egyptians voted for them. While Egypt will probably not break out in civil war, it is a risk the military appears to be willing to take.”
Kushner says that the situation in Egypt is also bad for the United States.
“The United States has a significant position in Egypt, certainly the U.S. supplies billions of dollars in aid to the Egyptian government and particularly to the military,” Kushner said. “But does this present administration have the desire or the means to expect significant change in Egypt when the military can run the country?”
“What’s happening Egypt, and also what’s happening in this country in terms of the current administration policy towards them and in that region of the world, I think quite frankly, the current administration’s policy has exacerbated the situation in that region,” Kushner said. “There’s a core of problems that are eventually going to blow back in our faces.”
Kushner also pointed to the Obama White House having visits from the Muslim Brotherhood.
“There are reports of Muslim Brotherhood representatives visiting the Beltway and having discussions with the current administration. Clearly [Obama's] foreign policies are a failure,” Kushner said. “We have very weak leadership in terms of sustaining power politics in the Middle East and certainly in Egypt.”
Clay says there’s one necessary intervention that is available to Americans: “Egypt needs our prayers more than ever before. Anything can happen as Islamists and the military fight for power. Like Iraq and Syria, Christians will inevitably be caught in the middle and attacks against the church will continue to increase.”