Since the first demonstrations began in Cairo this past spring, everyone knew the moment would arrive when militant Islamists would try to subvert modernizing revolutionaries. That moment is now. The Islamist militants recent actions, however, have exposed them and reveal their long term goals.
They are now following Khomeini's Iranian Islamic revolutionary script. Denouncing the U.S. and Israel provided Khomeini with rhetorical cover for intimidating, imprisoning or killing democratic revolutionaries. Now Khomeini's political descendants oppress their own people's political and material aspirations, and assist Syria's Assad regime in its attempt to stay in power.
Subsequent history has rendered a verdict on robed dictatorships -- their social product is poverty, violent oppression, and even more insidious corruption and cronyism than those that existed under Mubarak. These are the shackles Egyptians seek to escape. Must our grandchildren launch an Arab Spring in 2061 against an Egyptian clerical dictatorship?
Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, Iran's first president after the revolution (and living in exile since 1981, when Khomeini toppled him), serves as a first-hand source. In January, Bani-Sadr warned Tunisian revolutionaries that they must protect their revolution from the fate that befell Iran's. Most Iranian political organizations, Bani-Sadr wrote, "did not commit themselves to democracy. Lacking the unity of a democratic front, one by one they became targets of power-seeking clergy in the form of the Islamic Republic Party, and were pushed aside."
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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