Sunday, January 24, 2016

Egypt's Arab winter

The reflections on January 25th, the date of Egypt's failed revolution, are painful to read.  Far more painful the experience of those now entombed in the military's prisons.   Alaa, in a truly heart-rending piece, decides he has nothing more to say.   Few even try to be hopeful.

Perhaps one reason the situation today seems so utterly hopeless is that none of the commentators show any sign of having learned the one sure lesson of Egypt's 'Arab Spring'.  This is not at all for lack of insight.   It is because that insight itself is, for the secularist revolutionaries who write now, painful indeed.

I do not claim to know if Egypt's revolution could have succeeded.   I do know what, I am quite sure, every Egyptian knows.   There can be no real change in Egypt unless the army is defeated.   That may be impossible, but it is certainly impossible unless secularists are fully committed to supporting the main opposition in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Secularists deceived themselves when they could not make this hard choice.   They pretended there were other choices.  They can pretend no more.  The record of secularism in the Middle East, thanks in part to Western interference, has been abysmal.   Even today, bloodstained, stagnant Egypt is not the worst of the secularist bunch; it is probably among the best.

Lebanon and Algeria had civil wars in which over a 100,000 died.  Libya is in chaos.   Syria and Iraq experience catastrophic slaughter.  Jordan may have killed as many Palestinians as any other nation before abandoning its West Bank to Israel's tender mercies.  It retains some measure of stability largely due to its smug and total subservience to the US.  It is always ready to connive with Israel,  itself a disgrace to decency and 'democracy'.  Then there are the despairing societies of Morocco and Tunisia.  Those who still champion a secularist alternative are following their heart or their faith, but not the evidence.

Secularism may be the best solution everywhere, but nowhere do the populations of the Middle East have good reason to believe it - and they don't.   Change, if it comes, will be Islamist.   Those who don't accept this, might as well join the forces of repression.