On the first night of the so-called “Arab Spring” in Egypt, I sat for three hours at a desk at CNN (video at the end of the article). That night, I did my best to convince an inexperienced, and not very knowledgeable young anchor that this was not the kind of democracy that he and all those in the liberal Western press were making it out to be.
Given my first-hand knowledge of the situation, both empirically and academically, I sought to give him and his viewers a distinct picture of what would unfold. I warned that Islamists would soon sweep these well-meaning young people under the Egyptian sand.
Here we are, nearly eight months later, and I have never been invited back to CNN because they know I have every right to say, “I told you so.”
What was about to happen was apparent to those of us who have watched Islamists who, for years, were salivating to destroy public enemy number one in the Arab world, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. For years they have longed to destroy the Egyptian peace treaty with Israel for which Mubarak was a guardian. As they waited, they quietly organized while supporting and supplying Hamas behind the scenes.
To be sure, the hard work and heavy price of the uprising was paid for not by the Islamists, but by a small group of genuine liberals from among Egypt’s educated young people. The Islamists watched from the shadows while some of these young people paid the ultimate price and died for the revolution. Once the revolution succeeded and Mubarak resigned, the Islamists came out of hiding and began flexing their muscles and are now running the country through intimidation and fear. Sadly, for some of us, but not the Obama administration, this was expected.
Today the Salafists, who are heavily funded by their fellow Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, are literally forcing a weak and ineffective government’s hand to appoint cabinet members and governors who are sympathetic to them.
All of this is taking place under the watchful eye of the wavering Egyptian army who has prosecuted civilians who criticize them while Islamists and the criminal elements in society are exercising true power. The Egyptian army’s main focus in the last eight months has been to rebuild the army’s multi-billion dollar businesses that were undermined by Jamal Mubarak and his new entrepreneurial class, all of whom are now under arrest with the former president.