Randall Lane, the editor of Forbes, and I were probably the first and most prominent political analysts to predict a complete sweep of the Egyptian elections by the Muslim Brotherhood.
When we made this prediction last spring, there was a widespread sense that the surge of Democratic forces was such that the whole idea of a party committed to Sharia law and Islamic fundamentalism would win was unlikely, to say the least.
That being said, the poll data was equally clear that given the worldview of Egyptians – which in large measure rejects the Israel-Egypt Peace Accord, supports Hamas and Hezbollah and the instruction of Sharia law – they would almost certainly cast a protest vote against the military in favor of the largest and strongest opposition force in the country.
We have been proven right.
But Mohammed Morsi’s victory, however narrow, in last week’s Presidential vote, is the beginning of a process and most certainly not the end.
Morsi himself understands that he must conciliate and that he can provoke a direct confrontation with the military. For its part, the military understands that it enjoys far less than majority support in the country, and there remains a strong and deep seeded desire for change. However, the change that the Muslim Brotherhood wants and the change that the newly elected President wants may not necessarily mesh with that which the military is most comfortable.
In the very short term, both sides are on their very best behavior. But my sense is that this won’t last and that it can’t last too long in fact. The pressure from the military to impose its will reigns strong. The pressure from the right wing of the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to be as strong in the direction of a set of policies that are inimical to Western, and certainly American, interests.
How this will play out is uncertain. But for those who are eternal optimists, there is little reason to believe that the situation in Egypt offers much hope. And as the work that Randall Lane and I did last year proves compellingly accurate, there is every reason to believe that the instability in Egypt that has been evident over the last year and a half is more likely to get worse than to get better.
Further, there is also every reason to believe that if there is political chaos in Egypt, the military will think seriously about a coup against the Muslim Brotherhood as they did in 1952 against the monarchy when the Brotherhood was first outlawed. It is certainly not written in stone that this is going to happen, but to believe that the military, the relics of the discredited Mubarak regime, and the Brothers will be able to peacefully coexist at a time of political and economic uncertainty goes beyond well founded optimism.