Pick One: Fear Of Islamists Or Support For Democracy

by Patrick Appel

Marc Lynch, yesterday:

[W]e must not allow fears of Islamists to short-circuit support for such transitions. ... I've long expected that if Egypt got the democratic change which so many in Washington talk about, there would be a rapid and intense backlash as the still powerful Muslim Brotherhood necessarily played a major role and as popular opposition to the Mubarak government's foreign policy jeopardized American and Israeli interests. I'm hoping to be proven wrong.

We're about to get a test: the Muslim Brotherhood will join Friday's protests. NR's editorial makes clear that NR will not welcome the Muslim Brotherhood's role in a reformed Egypt:

One reason that we have to regard the prospect of an Egyptian upheaval with trepidation is that Mubarak has systematically neutered his organized democratic opposition, leaving the Islamists as the most obvious alternative to him the better to spook us whenever we push him to liberalize.

Their advice isn't bad but it assumes Mubarak will listen to our demands:

It should be made clear to Mubarak 82 years old and up for election in the fall that he’s now a transitional figure, and that the days of our easy tolerance for his dictatorial rule are over. We expect him to lift the emergency decree he’s imposed since 1981, liberalize the election laws, and restore the judicial oversight of elections. If he’s not amenable, well, there’s no reason we need to keep shoveling vast amounts of aid his way.