The Muslim Brotherhood, once excluded from power by then Egyptian president Mubarak, had a brief taste of political muscle and leverage under their elected candidate for president Mohammed Morsi, now ousted by the military, the primary force of government under both Mubarak and the current interim government, now without its highest profile vice-president, El-Baradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and a former recipient of the Nobel Prize.
El-Baradei resigned earlier today in protest against the violence of the military in removing Morsi supporters from their sit-ins in the streets of Cairo. Some reports allege that up to 2000 Egyptians may have been killed in the bloodshed which is being condemned by leaders from many countries, as well as by the Secretary General of the United Nations.
Clearly, the Muslim Brotherhood is determined to continue to protest the removal of Morsi and to demand his return to the president's office, along with the Islam-slanted constitution which he and his advisers had written and imposed on Egypt following his election. Equally clear is the seemingly iron-clad position of the military to provide Egypt with a secular government, a new constitution and new elections. They have invited the Muslim Brotherhood to participate in discussions about both a new constitution and the proposed elections; the "Brotherhood" has refused to participate and, although reports from several sources indicate that the majority of the people of Egypt support the military, including the overthrow of Morsi, his supporters seem adamant about his return.
Stand-off? A coup? Or not a coup?
The United States prefers to cling to the illusion, at least diplomatically, that the ouster of Morsi was not a coup because if it were, the financial support that the United States provides to the Egyptian military must be discontinued. Having little if any influence in the turbulence that now confronts both the Egyptian interim government and their people, as well as the world community, the United States urgently seeks to continue to pour money on the fire, as a way to preserve its window of opportunity to shape events, no matter how slender that window is in fact.
While these events are transpiring in the streets of Cairo, as well as other Egyptian cities, in Syria we are being told that AlQaeda operatives, bearing their black flags, are now fully engaged in fighting the Syrian rebels who have been recently receiving military support from the United States. How long will it be before those AlQaeda operatives, and their kin join the Morsi supporters, in their potential civil war to establish an Islamic state in Egypt, similar to their desired and stated purpose in Syria, an Islamic state.
These chaotic states, sometimes seemingly ungovernable, are fertile incubators for the aims and methods of the AlQaeda terrorists, determined as they are to punch the United States first, as well as other western countries, in the eye and then to demonstrate their own power to drive the United States from the Middle East.
No one wants to envision the end game in either Syria or in Egypt, not only because trying to do so seems impossible but also all options, including those most feared and despised by the west including the United States, all now on the table in plain view of the whole world.
Michael Jenkins, a counter-terrorism expert from the Rand corporation, speaking recently on On Point with Tom Ashbroook, while John Harwood was pinch-hitting for Ashbrook on vacation, made the point that, while the U.S. is interested in progress, and envisions an end game, a measureable result to the protracted conflict with the terrorists, those terrorists are focused on their process, and as far as they are concerned, the conflict could and likely will rage indefinitely, even to the end of time as we know it.
This may be another ironic and paradoxical case in which the possession of military might (a la Goliath) will not defeat the indomitable spirit and cunning and persistence of the terrorists (a la David) who have no money, no military establishment, no national state, no official weapons except those hand-crafted in some garage on a back street in some remote village in Yemen and no interest in a final victory, only in a centuries-long conflict that destabilizes the enemy, bringing her to her knees both literally and figuratively.
There is not a single person on the planet whose life is not and will not be impacted by the events playing out in so many countries where the terrorist tumor is growing, through recruitment and through the negative impact of the military (mostly drone) strikes meted out against their cells by the U.S. and her allies. Rhetoric that focuses on strength and retaliation and despises any thought of alternative approaches to this ever-metastasizing disease can and will only result in more and more violence, enobling the enemy and strivelling the attackers until only attrition and negotiation remain as potentially useful options. And that could take literally the rest of this century!