An Appeal to the Intellectual and Political Elites... by Tarek Heggy.
It was exactly a century ago that World War I began. When it ended four years later, the countries that had emerged victorious from the war set out to redraw the map of the Middle East, designating the borders of the countries of the region and dividing up most of those countries among themselves. I believe the same process is being repeated today, albeit with some differences in detail. However, in essence it is frighteningly similar to what happened in the aftermath of World War I.
With the end of the Cold War and the growing influence of the neo-conservative thinking which took shape during the Reagan presidency [1981-1989], the United States developed a model of the Middle East as it wanted it to be and as it considered would best serve its own interests. In this model, the Islamists would come to power if not in all then in most of the countries of the region, provided they would first agree not to stand in the way of the neo-consí objective of ensuring the complete Judaisation of Israel and the restructuring of Jerusalem, the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. It is an objective whose roots and spirit derive from a vision shared by Jews and many Protestants.
Against this backdrop, the advent of the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt in the middle of 2012 cannot be seen in isolation from what might well be termed a new version of the Sykes-Picot agreement. There is no greater proof that such an agreement was in place than the success of the Brotherhood during their ill-fated tenure in brokering the most important truce agreement and non-aggression pact between Hamas and Israel. But history sometimes comes up with surprises in defiance of all expectations. One such surprise was what happened in Egypt between June 30 and July 3, 2013.
However, the situation remains extremely precarious. The surprise which erupted just under nine months ago did not and will not completely destroy the new Sykes-Picot plan. All it has managed to do is put a serious spoke in the wheel of a plan that appeared close to fruition.
I am firmly convinced that Egypt today is in a state of war no less ferocious, dangerous and consequential than the wars of 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973. To maintain that Egypt is doomed to lose this war is not only unscientific but betrays an ignorance of history which abounds with examples that defy the notion of historical determinism.
On September 19, 2013, I met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Valdai, a town northwest of Moscow. When I sounded him out on his assessment of the situation in my country, Mr. Putin said the new Egypt (by which he meant the Egypt of 30 June/3 July) would be defeated only if the Egyptians came to believe in the inevitable victory of the new Sykes-Picot plan. He added that what happened during that period and which led to the collapse of Brotherhood rule after 369 days in power was a startling historical event but that its continued success required the fulfillment of three conditions. First, a strong leadership armed with a clear and unwavering vision and exceptional administrative and executive talents-;- Second, Egyptian popular support for that leadership-;- Third, the support of a number of influential countries in the region.
Contemplating the situation as it stands today, we can safely say that the first condition will shortly be fulfilled, while the third condition, as represented in the UAE/Saudi/Kuwaiti support for the new Egypt, has already been fulfilled.
But the problem relates to the second condition, whose fulfillment remains hostage to the fragmentation and divisions in the ranks of Egyptís intellectual and political elites. In most cases, this is due to a lack of understanding of the stage through which the country is passing. However, in some other cases it is due to the personal interests (usually financial) of a few who benefit from the present disarray in the ranks of the Egyptian elites.
It is obviously futile to urge this latter group to desist from fomenting discord and to focus instead on presenting a united front in the face of the very serious challenges confronting Egypt. But it is worth appealing to those who, while of good faith, are unable to see that factionalism and lack of cohesive public support at this critical juncture can only serve the interests of the new Sykes-Picot project. Even the advent of the leadership that can steer Egypt safely through the bumpy road ahead [a condition I believe will be met very shortly] and the support required from influential countries in the region (a condition that has already been met) cannot guarantee to hold Egypt safe from the evils of the new Sykes-Picot plan without the support of large numbers of the intellectual and political elites and their realization that the fragmentation in their ranks only serves the interests of the new Sykes-Picot project. They must be made to realize that the time for squabbling over minor details is over and that it is necessary now to focus on the big picture so as to ensure that Egypt does not become one of the pawns in the game now underway to design a new Middle East. It is only by closing ranks at this critical juncture that the intellectual and political elites can create a healthy climate conducive to placing Egypt on the path to development and growth.