The dream of Arab youth began several months ago when a young Tunisian torched his life due to oppression by government authorities. Within weeks, his death reverberated throughout the Arab world and thousands of students and adults thronged the streets of Cairo and elsewhere demanding an end to rule by authority and establishment of democracies. Early this week, military police and security forces entered Tahrir Square in Cairo and forced young people to evacuate the premises. In contrast, Egyptian military authorities increasingly are relying on Islamist thugs to beat up those standing for freedom and democracy.
Youth groups continue to maintain their image as guardians of the democratic revolution while Islamists are using what secular forces attained as a vehicle for gaining power in Egypt. It becomes increasingly clear military leaders prefer working with Islamic terror groups in order to avoid dealing with those seeking a democratic society. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces(SCAF) is allowing Islamic thugs to attack secular youth groups.
Islamic terror groups wielding sticks and other weapons now descent on secular youth shouting, “Beware the enemies of the country and Islam.” Secular groups have attempted to work with Islamic leaders, but agreements have repeatedly been broken. Most Egyptians do not believe the revolution’s goal was to impose Sharia law, but right wing Islamics intend to seek that goal.
Egypt is at a turning point. It can maintain the momentum of democracy or see the nation become another version of Iran. For Israelis who continue halting progress toward peace with Palestinians the outcome may be bleak. Five years from now, if there is an Iranian version of Iran, Israel will be furious at missing the opportunity of 2011 to head off that occurrence by working for peace with Palestinians. Which is a more desirable outcome–Settlements on the West Bank or a secular Egypt working for peace and freedom?