Islamists climbed to power in Egypt and Tunisia on the backs of economic protests which were hijacked by liberal activists which were then hijacked by Islamists. The Islamists won elections, but the liberals are still trying to pull them down and there’s plenty of economic discontent for them to work with.
In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has resorted to Mubarak’s old tactics of using violent attacks against protesters, particularly female protesters. Unlike Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t care what anyone thinks of it, but the escalation of that violence may lead somewhere they don’t expect.
Tahrir Square is once again turning into a protest ground, this time for Anti-Brotherhood activists who were the players in the original revolution. The confrontations between liberal protesters and government thugs is playing out a lot like the way the old revolution did. And while the Muslim Brotherhood reaped the rewards of that revolution, Mubarak was not removed by an election and there’s no reason to think that the same thing cannot also happen to Morsi.
Abdel-Halim Qandil, a co-founder of Kefaya, the liberal group designated by Western governments and democracy groups to take power after Mubarak, is now talking about a second revolution.
“Brotherhood leaders act like blind elephants and do not realise the magnitude of the social and political anger that is growing on the streets. It is escalating into calls for a new revolution,” Qandil stated.
The key ingredient is public anger. And economic problems will go on providing that. And that is why it is more important than ever for Congress to block any and all aid to Egypt. Such aid only bails out the Muslim Brotherhood. American aid to Russia salvaged Bolshevik rule. Aid to Egypt, regardless of how civilian it might seem on paper, will help the Brotherhood stay in power.
The key, on our end, to bringing down the Brotherhood is denying them money. Qatar can pump in plenty of cash, but it can’t subsidize all of Egypt and all its other Islamist conflicts as well.
Meanwhile in Tunisia tensions are growing with television stations on strike and protests are picking up after the exposure of the closeness of the ties between the ruling Ennahda Islamists and the Salafist thugs enforcing Sharia with their fists.
Tunisia is the country where Islamists are likeliest to be overthrown. It is the place where they are most vulnerable. It’s where the Arab Spring began and a defeat there will be demoralizing for them and undermine their entire strategy of taking power by winning elections. If the political Islamists lose the democracy debate and turn back to open violence, all the prog pundits will warn that they told us so, but it will make it much harder for them to take power and the status quo of a decade ago will snap back.
Morsi has lost his first political fight, trying to control the justice system. Ennahda is beginning to slip in Tunisia. Counterrevolutions there are possible and if they succeed, then some of the damage of the Arab Spring will be undone.