Before this site reviewed various analysis on Egypt from Israeli security and from the Foreign Policy Journal I had said the odds were 2:1 that Mubarak would hold power. The 1/3 odds are not that he would be overthrown by Islamic/Iranian/popular dissent forces. I think the 1/3 is there is some kind of military coup where some General that Israel and the CIA think is strong enough takes over.
I think that Israel and Mubarak will pull out all the tops to keep Mubarak or someone acceptable in Egypt.
Mubarak is not the weak and indecisive Shah and will not play that part.
Der Spiegel – the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the main reasons why official Israel seems to support Mubarak so keenly. It is considered the most popular political movement in Egypt, and its position regarding the peace treaty with Israel is clear: They want it revoked immediately. “Democracy is something beautiful,” said Eli Shaked, who was Israel’s ambassador to Cairo from 2003 to 2005, in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE. “Nevertheless, it is very much in the interests of Israel, the United States and Europe that Mubarak remains in power.”
For Israel, more is at stake than the current so-called “cold” peace with Egypt and a few tens of millions of dollars in trade. “Never before have Israel’s strategic interests been so closely aligned with those of the Sunni states as today,” says Shaked, referring to Arab countries whose populations are mainly Sunni Muslim, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The recent publication of the US diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks showed what he means: Much of the Arab world, and especially Mubarak, sees Shiite Iran and its allies, such as Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon, as an existential threat, just as Israel does.
“If regime change occurs in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood would take the helm, and that would have incalculable consequences for the region,” says Shaked. The Israeli government has noted with concern the fact that, even after 30 years of peace, Egypt’s army is still equipped and trained mainly with a possible war against Israel in mind.
A cancellation of the peace treaty would open up a new front with the 11th largest army in the world, which is equipped with modern American weapons. But what Israel fears more than a — somewhat unlikely — armed conflict with Egypt is an alliance between an Islamist regime in Cairo and Hamas, which considers itself an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Today the Egyptian army tries to stop — albeit hesitantly — weapons smuggling from Sinai to Gaza, the main supply route for Hamas. An Egyptian regime that opened the border with Gaza for arms deliveries would pose a serious danger to Israel.
Shaked considers the West’s demands for more openness and democracy in Egypt to be a fatal mistake. “It is an illusion to believe that the dictator Mubarak could be replaced by a democracy,” he says. “Egypt is still not capable of democracy,” he adds, pointing out that the illiteracy rate is over 20 percent, to give just one example. The Muslim Brotherhood is the only real alternative, he opines, which would have devastating consequences for the West. “They will not change their anti-Western attitude when they come to power. That has not happened (with Islamist movements) anywhere: neither in Sudan, Iran nor Afghanistan.”
Ultimately the choice is between a pro- or an anti-Western dictatorship, says Shaked. “It is in our interest that someone from Mubarak’s inner circle takes over his legacy, at any cost.” In the process, it is not possible to rule out massive bloodshed in the short term, he says. “It would not be the first time that riots in Egypt were brutally crushed.”
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