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The Coming Radicalization of Egypt
Terrorist attacks in the Sinai are placing pressure on the ruling Mubarak regime. How much longer will it be before Egypt turns Islamist? Last week, five terrorist attacks took place in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. On April 24, three explosions shook the tourist resort town of Dahab, killing more than 30 people and injuring 160. April 26, two suicide bombers attacked a multinational peaceke
Monday, May 1,2006 00:00
by thetrumpet

Terrorist attacks in the Sinai are placing pressure on the ruling Mubarak regime. How much longer will it be before Egypt turns Islamist?

Last week, five terrorist attacks took place in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. On April 24, three explosions shook the tourist resort town of Dahab, killing more than 30 people and injuring 160. April 26, two suicide bombers attacked a multinational peacekeeping base close to the border with Israel. These follow-up attacks were seen as an attempt to prevent security forces from targeting terrorist infrastructure in the Sinai and suggest that future attacks are likely. “These latest attacks in Sinai underscore that a sophisticated jihadist infrastructure is in place on the peninsula, despite claims by Cairo that this is the work of Bedouins” (Stratfor, April 26). The same day, gunfire was reportedly exchanged between militants and Egyptian police in the eastern part of Egypt.

Through attempting to downplay the terrorist attacks, the Egyptian government, headed (for the past quarter-century) by autocratic President Hosni Mubarak, clearly feels threatened by these attempts at destabilization. And it has good reason to be. The Egyptian ruling regime is, after all, the target. In the terrorists’ eyes, the Mubarak government is on the wrong side.

Egypt is one of the more Western-friendly Muslim nations. The pragmatic Mubarak has had relatively pleasant relations with the United States and Israel while suppressing Islamist elements—both political and militant—within the country. Recently, however, a number of factors have worked against him: Islamist forces throughout the Middle East have gained traction; grassroots support of Islamists within Egypt has grown; international pressure to democratize is increasing; Mubarak’s own health has weakened. It is simply becoming harder and harder for Mubarak to suppress the Islamist elements in his nation. So much so that in parliamentary elections last December, the Muslim Brotherhood, though officially banned, became Egypt’s largest and most influential opposition party, winning 88 seats. Though considered a moderate Islamist movement—by virtue of the fact that it is willing to engage in the democratic process (by which definition the terrorist group Hamas is also “moderate”)—the Muslim Brotherhood is an organization of staunch Islamic conservatives with a strong desire to make Islamic law the foundation of Egyptian government. In this respect, its desires coincide with those of the terrorists who have targeted tourists “in hopes of destabilizing President Hosni Mubarak’s regime” (ibid.).

So the last thing Mubarak’s government needs is further militant activity—which is likely what it will get. “Given that Dahab was Egypt’s third attack in 18 months, whichever group is responsible probably still has functioning cells out there, meaning the Egyptians have failed to disrupt the group’s operations despite mass arrests following the first two attacks. Furthermore, over this time period, the Egyptians might have thwarted other attacks, or militants aborted attack plans for other reasons. In other words, the actual level of militant activity in Egypt could be even higher” (ibid., April 25; emphasis ours). Evidently, there is a sizeable pool of Islamist sympathizers for militants to draw from.

There is a prophecy in the Bible concerning Egypt that has caused the Trumpet to watch that country for the past decade.

“He [a superpower from the north] shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape” (Daniel 11:42).

This verse in Daniel is in the midst of a passage talking about a power from the north responding in blitzkrieg-like fashion to provocation by a power to its south. The Trumpet understands that this southern power is an Islamic bloc led by Iran. Daniel 11:42 therefore implies that Egypt will radicalize and ally with Iran. Our booklet The King of the South provides evidence for these assertions.

“This prophecy,” Gerald Flurry wrote, “indicates that there would be a far-reaching change in Egyptian politics!”

This is what the Trumpet is watching for. We have previously brought attention to the reality that the current political situation in Egypt is unsustainable. The only way Mubarak is maintaining his autocratic rule is through suppression of his opposition. At some point—and likely with the help of instability resulting from terrorist activity—he will no longer be in a position to maintain his hold on the country’s leadership. Moreover, clearly Egypt is not immune from the democratic wave bringing Islamists to power across the Middle East.

So what this means for the U.S. is that it could soon lose one of its few remaining allies in the Middle East.

What’s more, the State of Israel largely relies on Egypt’s goodwill to keep tabs on the Egyptian/Gaza border, particularly now Israeli troops have departed the Gaza Strip. If the Egyptian government were to fall to Islamists and join forces with Iran, both America’s and Israel’s place in the Middle East would become all the more untenable. Just last week, a vehicle filled with explosives entering Israel from Egypt was seized, while a car bomb exploded near another Egypt-Israel border crossing. Imagine the challenge Israel would face if the present Egyptian government fell. It appears it is only a matter of time till this will occur.

Given the pressure being applied by terrorists attempting to destabilize the Mubarak regime, along with the growing internal political pressure and outside pressure to democratize, how much longer will it be before Egypt turns Islamist? If a vacuum is created by the departure of Mubarak from the scene—or even a weakened Mubarak—the opening will be there for Islamists to take over. Watch for it.
 

SEE ALSO
U.S. Accepts a Future Islamic State in Egypt?
 •  Democratic Elections and the Rise of Islamist Governments


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