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The Mubarak regime is likely in its last days and the Muslim Brotherhood has now endorsed former IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) director Mohamed ElBaradei to replace him. The wise move by the Islamists will allow them to control the next government while soothing the fear over the creation of the Islamic Republic of Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood has allowed ElBaradei to lead a new coalition called the National Association for Change that also includes secular democrats and other opposition figures like Ayman Nour and Dr. Osama al-Ghazali Harb. This coalition led by ElBaradei is going to begin forming a national unity government that will exclude President Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, removing a potential secular voice in the next regime. Once this national unity government is put together, it will force the U.S. to pick either the Mubarak regime or the opposition regime as the government of Egypt.
The Brotherhood decided to embrace ElBaradei because it will make it easier to pursue an Islamist agenda. One of the group’s officials did not try to disguise this, saying “The Brotherhood realizes the sensitivities, especially in the West, towards the Islamists, and we’re not keen to be at the forefront.”
The West should not find comfort in the prospect of ElBaradei leading Egypt instead of an official Brotherhood member. He may be a secular democrat ideologically, but his foreign policy stances are not much different than the Brotherhood and he is a stalwart defender of the organization. He has just compared them to “new evangelical…groups in the U.S., like the orthodox Jews in Jerusalem” and says “[t]his is total bogus that the Muslim Brotherhood are religiously conservative. They are [in] no way extremists.”
He also asserts that the Brotherhood has “not committed any acts of violence in five decades,” drawing a deceitful distinction between the Brotherhood and its Palestinian branch, Hamas. The constitution of Hamas states it is “the arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine” and in March, a top Hamas operative reaffirmed that it remains so. There are already unconfirmed reports that armed members of Hamas are now entering Egypt to link up with the Brotherhood. ElBaradei has in the past defended “the Palestinian resistance,” saying that “the Israeli occupation only understands violence.”
An Egypt under ElBaradei would be friendly to Iran. As the director of the IAEA, El-Baradei was repeatedly accused of covering-up incriminating evidence about the Iranian nuclear program. He opposes sanctions on Iran and says “they are not like the stereotyped fanatics bent on destroying everybody around them. They are not.” It has been reported that an Iranian official gave $7 million to an associate of his in Hungary to finance a presidential campaign and the Iranians also offered other forms of assistance, including information to undermine Mubarak. This could be an attempt by Egypt’s Arab allies to undermine ElBaradei but at the very least, the Iranian state media is supporting the revolution.
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