If the military colludes with Islamists to remain in power, obviously it, not the Islamist faction, retains ultimate control. This is the key point that conventional analysts miss: The recent election results allow the military to keep power. As aspiring Egyptian politician Mohamed ElBaradei correctly notes, “It is all in the hands of SCAF right now.”
True, if Islamists control the parliament (not a sure thing; the military could yet decide to reduce their percentage in future rounds of an unusually complex voting procedure open to abuse), they acquire certain privileges and move the country further toward sharia law — as far, anyway, as SCAF permits. This maintains the long-term trend of Islamization underway since the military seized power in 1952.
What about Western policy? First, press
SCAF to build the civil society that must precede real democracy, so that the modern and moderate civilians in Egypt have a chance to express themselves.
Second, instantly cease all economic aid to Cairo. It is unacceptable that Western taxpayers fund, even indirectly, Egypt’s Islamization. Resume funding only when the government allows secular Muslims, liberals, and Copts, among others, freely to express and organize themselves.
Third, oppose both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis. Less extreme or more, Islamists of every description are our worst enemies.
— Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum and Taube Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Cynthia Farahat is an Egyptian activist and co-author of a book about the Tahrir Square protests.