Public version of Israeli security analysis of the Egypt situation

As with Iran in ’79, Islamists could hijack pro-democracy movements; ex-IDF research chief: “We’re on thick ice, but even that melts eventually.”

While no analysts here predict any immediate ramifications for Israel’s national security, some said mass protest movements that begin as pro-democracy uprisings could easily be hijacked by Islamists.

Advice we have heard from certain countries in Western Europe [suggesting that the uprisings could lead to a wave of democratic revolutions] should not be followed,” he said. “There’s no immediate fear of any security escalation. The main question is: In the long term, will we be ready for all scenarios?” Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, a former national security adviser, and a senior research fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), said, “There’s a reasonable chance that if a revolution takes place in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood would rise to power. That would be bad not just for Israel but for all democracies.”

The true struggle in Egypt was not between “Mubarak and pro-democracy elements, but between Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood,” Eiland said.

The Muslim brotherhood almost certainly has Iranian support and aid.

Casting his eye on Lebanon, Giora said the recent confrontation between the pro-Western March 8 alliance and the Hizbullah-led March 14 bloc was not as severe as met the eye.

Shlomo Brom, director of the program on Israel-Palestinian relations at the INSS, said it was impossible to know what would happen next.

“It’s true that pro-democracy voices are being expressed – and that is positive – but we don’t know how it will end,” Brom said. Even in Tunisia, where the Islamists are weak, we don’t know how it will end. We can’t forget that in Iran, at the end of the 1970s, the uprising against the shah was led by [pro-democracy] youths who took the streets – but this was taken over by Islamists in the end.”

Mubarak is no pussy. He has held power for thirty years in a volatile area where his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, was assassinated. Have he and his military allies gotten soft or sloppy enough for Iran and popular unrest to depose him ?

I would guess the odds at 2 to 1 in favor of Mubarak. However, if Mubarak holds he will need at some point to introduce some reforms to lower some of the pressures that building. If Mubarak does go down, key military people will have to turn against him.

Jerusalem post – The number of dead in Egypt is now 18. Other reports are that more than 900 have been injured and 1000 have been arrested.

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