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Islam and democracy in the Arab Middle East are mutually exclusive

Published time: August 20, 2013 14:34
A supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and of ousted president Mohamed Morsi runs past a burning vehicle during clashes with security officers close to Cairo's Ramses Square, on August 16, 2013 (AFP Photo / Virginie Nguyen Hoang)

The weaker the Egyptian regime is, the stronger becomes Islamist terrorism, the former Israeli diplomat in the US and an expert on the Middle East, Yoram Ettinger told RT.

RT: The campaign calling to abolish the peace treaty with Israel has already gathered 300,000 signatures online. Do you think there's a danger of that actually happening?

Yoram Ettinger: Certainly, the recent events in the Middle East and in Egypt in particular shed light on the very tenuous, very provisional nature of any agreement in the Middle East – whether among Muslims, among Arabs – and certainly between the Arabs or the Muslims on one hand and what they call ‘the Infidel’ – Infidel Christian or the Infidel Jew.   

Therefore, any agreement signed by Israel should be regarded for what it is – it’s an agreement which is very limited in time. Just like the regimes in the Arab world, which are very provisional, very short-term, so are their policies in general, so are their policies towards Israel. Any change for the worse – as far as peace with Israel [is concerned] – should not overwhelm anybody, it’s part of the very unfortunate reality in the Middle East, which therefore requires Israel to have extra, extra security if it wants to survive the unpredictability in the Middle East.  

A supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi stands in a blood-stained clothes as demonstrators gather in Cairo's Abbassiya neighbourhood on August 16, 2013 (AFP Photo / Mohammed Abdel Moneim)

RT:  Yesterday’s killings of over 20 policemen on Sinai Peninsula show violence there is intensifying. The Islamists' main targets so far have been Egyptian security forces, but is there a fear in Israel they might engage in cross-border attacks?

YE: Terrorists on Sinai Peninsula have already launched a number of attacks on Israel, launching missiles at Israel, trying to get through the border into Israel. And it has been Israel’s unilateral military preemption which prevented that. 

We should realize that the Middle East is increasingly going through the Islamization and Islamic [Islamist] terrorism is taking a higher and higher profile. When it comes to Islamic regimes and Islamic [Islamist] terrorism – we should realize that in the Arab Middle East the notion of Islam on the one hand and democracy on the other hand is mutually exclusive. They constitute oxymoron.

The weaker the Egyptian regime is, the stronger is the Islamic [Islamist]  terrorism.  The weaker the central government in Libya after the killing of [Muammar] Gaddafi is, the more anarchy, and the more terrorism there is in the country.

RT:  Since Mohammed Morsi's ousting from power, Israel's been mostly silent on the events in Egypt, prompting speculation that it's quietly siding with the Egyptian army in suppressing Islamists. How likely is that?

YE: No, no, Israel has not been quiet. In fact, we have been accused by the New York Times – which unfortunately has been a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood – of supporting the military regime in Egypt. 

Exclusion should not be the rule of the game, and Muslim Brotherhood should be included in the reconciliation efforts and compete in elections, Amr Moussa, a former presidential candidate, told RT in an exclusive interview.

As bad as it is, a military regime in Arab countries is much better than a terrorist-inclined regime. The Muslim Brotherhood has an agenda which transcends Egypt. In fact, it transcends even the Muslim world – it’s a terror organization which has few elements which are also civilian in nature. The military clique on the other hand has an agenda limited to Egypt, therefore, for the sake of regional stability, the world at large and for the sake of Israel, it’s much better to have a military regime rather than a Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt.   

RT:  On Sunday, The Jerusalem Post quoted an Israeli official saying that the "only actor that can assert authority in Egypt and keep it from descending into chaos is the military". Do you agree with that?

YE: We’ve seen in Egypt that it was the military clique which basically took down Mubarak – Mubarak lost favor, became weak health-wise, weak governance-wise. 

Egypt's current Prime Minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, proposed on Saturday that the Muslim Brotherhood be dissolved. The idea is being mulled, according to a government spokesman.

It was the military that have taken down the Muslim Brotherhood. It was the military which took down the monarchy of King Farouk in 1952. And since 1952 till today we have actually sustained military rule. An exception was the last year of the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Under the military rule until Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood were limited in action because they were declared for what they are – namely, a terrorist organization.