Egypt: The Real War Now is Between Secularists and Islamists
While the people of Egypt are fighting Hosni Mubarak and his supporters, there are many other battles being waged there right now. Most important of them is the struggle for dominance between radical Muslim Brotherhood and relatively liberal-secular faction of other leaders. The outcome of this struggle may actually be the deciding factor in the ongoing struggle between radicals and secularists within the global Islamic community.
The protests going on in Egypt against Hosni Mubarak are not just about upstaging an unpopular leader. In the streets of Cairo, right now, the people of Egypt are simultaneously fighting many other proxy wars on behalf of many other actors. In fact, some of those wars may actually be of a far greater significance than the future of Mr Mubarak, especially in terms of long term consequences for the whole global community.
War between democracy and authoritarianism
The first of those wars is between those who hail democratic rights as a fundamental right of all people and those who undermine its significance as an important means of social welfare and satisfaction. The first round of this war was actually fought in Tunisia, where the protestors forced President Ben Ali in exile. Along with Egypt, simultaneous battles of this war are also being fought in many other places. In Yemen, people are pressurising the reigning ruler President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. In China, there are no protests yet the Government is scared enough to make it impose censorship on news related to Egypt. The outcome of this battle at least is well known – no Government can be successful in preventing information in this information age. It is actions like these that will undermine both the legitimacy and stature of the one party Chinese rule among its people, in spite of its extraordinarily successful economic record.
War between accountable and arbitrary governance
The second war being fought right now on the streets of Cairo is between those who monopolise power at the cost of people and those who want good governance. The first of this war was also fought in Tunisia, and the success of the people demanding accountability has actually made the whole world awake. Tunisia and Egypt have served a stern warning to all those who face accusation of compromising the interest of their subjects. Another round of this war has actually been fought and won each in Jordan and India. In the former, King Abdullah has sacked the Prime Minister, thereby acceding to the claim of people who demand accountability. In India, the wary Government has allowed one of its former Ministers, now accused of corruption, to be arrested. In many other countries people have begin to raise a war cry, and more could be in store.
War between secularists and radical Islamists
However, the most important – in fact, the mother of all wars seen by human civilisation in recent times, is being fought by the Secularists against the Islamic radicals. This is, in fact, a long drawn war that has been going on for over a century now.
It began around the First World War with the defeat and division of Ottoman empire, leaving proxy wars as the only alternative available to all those who owed loyalty to the idea of global Islamic leadership and dominance. For them, the war has never seized since. In fact, it received its strongest boosts from the twin events of founding of Saudi Arabia and discovery of large oil reserves in Middle East in the 1930s. Subsequent emergence of Petrodollars have proved to be a game-changer ever since, allowing spread of radical Wahhabi ideology on its financial muscle. Most of the battles of this war have been fought very subtly, and with the most opportunistic stratagem. Its greatest victory actually came in the form of defeat at the hands of Israel in 1948, an event that provided it the perfect weapon – danger of persecution by the Zionist – Western led non-Islamic world. Its first great war was actually fought in Iran, involving the overthrowing of Shah there. Resistance against Communist Russia in Afghanistan has probably been one of its most crucial battles so far – it brought down the curtains on a Soviet empire – a battle that still continues there, though against a different Secular alliance that ironically consists of those who were its allies when the war began. Cairo is not the only theatre of this war that continues to ravage human existence. The most active battle of this war is actually being fought in Pakistan, where hardly ever a week goes by without some clash or loss of life involving radicals.
Right now, there are three important leaders who are fighting this proxy war in Egypt. On one side are two relatively secular faces of Egypt, Amr Moussa, the Head of the Arab League, who has already joined the people and been somewhat able to capture their imagination. Alongside him, though not in any organised manner, is Mohamed Elbaradei, the former United Nations Diplomat, whom the opposition parties have put forward as their representative. These secularists are actually fighting a battle on behalf of the secular humanity against a global community of radical Islamists represented there by the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, lead by Mohamed Beltagui. While they are all raising opposition to the rule of Hosni Mubarak and appear to be together, in reality, they are fighting the most important battle of their lives – the battle among themselves for controlling the mind of Egyptian people.
Fate of humanity may depend on this war
The way this war concludes can have great repercussions for the whole of humanity. If Egyptian people let the radicals down, it will be greatest ever victory of the secularists till date that will send very strong signals across the globe, and considerably weaken the radical stronghold over the psyche of common man in Islamic nations. For liberals in countries like Pakistan and Sudan, this can be a fresh lease of life. For the Middle East, it may bring a new alternative school of thought from within.
Strange is the way in which human destiny is decided. We may be in the middle of something that will probably decide how our world will look like in another few decades!