Mr. Horovitz, editor of the Jerusalem Post, is a political centrist in Israel.
The precedents are fresh and obvious. Yet the U.S. government seems intent on ignoring them.
In Iran in 1979, leftist and other secular forces, central to the rising pressure that ousted the Shah, were duped and then outflanked by Islamist supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini, who took power and have cemented it for 32 years since. The Islamists achieved this despite having constituted only the most marginal of forces just a couple of years earlier.
In the Palestinian territories in 2006, the U.S. insisted on pressing ahead with elections that, in part because of Fatah’s corruption and disorganization, saw the underestimated Islamist Hamas terror group gain a parliamentary majority, which it then exploited to violently take over the Gaza Strip a year later.
In Lebanon over the past few weeks, the Iranian-inspired, controlled and financed Hizbullah outmaneuvered the hapless prime minister Saad Hariri, to complete what amounts to a gradual, highly sophisticated takeover of the country.
In Turkey in recent years, confidence that such secular bulwarks as the army and the judiciary would prevent growing Islamic domination of the national agenda has proved increasingly misplaced, again via the subtle and protracted marginalization of these former establishment pillars. Turkey, champion of Hamas, nemesis of Israel, is now drifting inexorably out of the western orbit.
The Islamists’ tactical absence from the protests
has been widely misread as proof
of their lack of ambition and marginality
Washington’s apparent disinclination, as it now tries to influence the process of Hosni Mubarak’s replacement, to internalize the dangers highlighted by the Iran, Gaza, Lebanon and Turkey disasters, and thus do everything in its power to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood presiding over a similar process in Egypt, is incomprehensible.
And it could prove immensely threatening for Israel.
For all President Barack Obama’s declared intent to usher in a new partnership between the U.S. and the Muslim world, what he termed “a new beginning” in his 2009 speech in Cairo, his diplomats did not deliver significant diplomatic pressure on Mubarak to reform his regime in the past two years. This was most starkly confirmed by December’s vigorously fraudulent parliamentary elections, which featured mass arrests of opposition supporters and the firm muzzling of critical media, and in which the Muslim Brotherhood’s 88-seat share of theprevious 454-member parliament descended to zero because of the regime’s machinations.
Washington evidently failed to foresee that embittered Egyptians might then resort to the massed protests of the past two weeks, and it abandoned Mubarak with alacrity as it scrambled to avoid being caught on the wrong side of a largely spontaneous people’s push for freedom and democracy.
But however one gauges the realpolitik involved in that dramatic recoil from a 30-year ally, the White House’s subsequent reported moves to legitimate Egypt’s Islamists – whose outlook conflicts utterly with the democratic agenda – make no sense, and suggest a frighteningly superficial understanding of the Muslim Brotherhood’s intentions and potential achievements.