Gershon Baskin extends his hand in peace to the people of Egypt and to its elected leaders and congratulates the people of Egypt and their new president, Mohammed Morsi, for the first fully democratic elections in the largest Arab country in the world.
I have to begin by congratulating the people of Egypt and their new president, Mohammed Morsi, for the first fully democratic elections in the largest Arab country in the world. As an Israeli, I extend my hand in peace to the people of Egypt and to its elected leaders. I wish you the best. Your tasks at hand are overwhelming. Your job approval ratings come with taking responsibility and acting responsibly.
There is no doubt that in Israel, around the world and in Egypt there is great concern about the future of Egypt. The task of ruling a country like Egypt is not about ideology, it is about being able to feed, employ, educate, provide health care and human dignity to its 82 million citizens.
The Egyptian economy has been largely built, in the past years, on tourism and foreign investment. Both have taken a huge blow since the revolution ousted the dictator Mubarak. Egypt must create hundreds of thousands of new jobs every year that provide income and respect for its people. Stability is a magnet for money and revolutions are the ultimate in capital flight. Whoever rules Egypt needs stability. That means no war on bikinis and beer. It also means that relations with the United States and the West are strategic. It also means that peace with Israel will remain.
President Morsi is sincere when he says he wants to be president for all Egyptians, those who voted for him and those who fear him, mostly the Coptic minority. This is not an empty slogan that every new elected official states. Morsi will seek to have a wide coalition of support behind him, and the educated and largely secular young people who created the revolution ended up mostly supporting him because the thought of supporting General Ahmed Shafiq, a remnant of the Mubarak regime, was abhorrent to them. Now they have democracy and they also have a regime led by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Morsi will have to contend with the abusive powers that still remain in the hands of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). A power struggle will ensue almost immediately. I believe that in the end the democratic forces in Egypt will overpower the dictatorial tendency of military rulers. It will be a long struggle, but like in Turkey, the democratically elected civilian government will at some time in the future be the sovereign rulers of the country and not the military.
I project that the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Egypt will be keen on re-establishing full Egyptian sovereignty in Sinai. The absence of governance and law and order in Sinai and the rise of radical jihadi groups there is something the Muslim Brotherhood president will not tolerate. Strangely, he will find Hamas in Gaza to be an ally in the desire to put Sinai back under the direct control of Cairo.
Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are not friends of the al-Qaida-type international jihadi organizations. They endanger the rule and authority of both political movements. Hamas and Egypt will have a shared interest in developing a normal border between them, including a commercial terminal in Rafah that will put an end to the smuggling and the tunnel trade in Sinai. This is not a bad thing for Israel.
The Israeli-Egyptian relationship will remain frigid, but I think that the intelligence communication and mediating role of Egyptian intelligence will continue to function in mitigating violence when it erupts between Israel and Gaza.
I think that it is most interesting to monitor the tweets of Egyptians and other Arabs over the hours since the announcement of the Morsi victory. They are filled with celebration, apprehension, struggle, amazement and humor. I will let these young Arab people speak for themselves:
Ahmed Shihab-Eldin@ASE: “Fireworks and smoke engulf cheering crowds of tens of thousands in Tahrir as fists pump in the air.”
Shadi Hamid@shadihamid: “This is the first time in history an Islamist party has risen to the presidency in the Arab world.”
Rachel Shabi@rachshabi RT@jmalsin: “This place is going gorillas. Fireworks, cheering, men embracing each other and weeping.”
Ahmed Shihab-Eldin@ASE: “Congratulations Egypt – the real work begins now. Womens revolution is next.”
Ismael@ChangeInLibya: “Tahrir square waving Libyan, Tunisian and Palestinian flags :D”
Youssef Chouhoud@TheAlexandrian Egypt: “1/3 is celebrating; 1/3 is neutral/cautiously optimistic; 1/3 is downloading porn or buying vodka ‘while there’s still time'”
Gigi Ibrahim@Gsquare86: “Aside from my differences with Ikhwan and my deep opposition to their politics, I am very happy Shafiq lost!”
Mohamed El Dahshan@eldahshan: “No congratulations to Morsi. Now, we’ll be watching you closely. If you mess up, you’ll be out sooner than you can say ‘Qatar'”
Mona Eltahawy@monaeltahawy: “Egypt is not Iran, Algeria, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia or any place else. Egypt is Egypt. I am echoing what many said at end of run-off vote last week: I’m happy Shafiq lost and sad Morsi won. The fight for freedom continues. I vowed I’d come back 2 Egypt if Morsi wins & I’m sticking 2 my word. I long fought Mubarak regime thru my writing, prepared 2 do same w/Morsi”
Dalia Mogahed@DMogahed: “Let’s hand it to Egypt. It took them WAY less time to figure out who won in a contested close election than Bush/Gore in 2000.”
Mina Al-Oraibi@AlOraibi: “White House issues statemnt congratulating Morsi-says he has ‘both legitimacy&responsibility of representing a diverse&courageous citizenry'”
Sara Hussein@sarahussein: “Right Morsi, I gave you a chance to give your speech, but now it’s Euro2012 time. Peace out.”
Gershon is an advisor to Israeli, Palestinian and International Prime Ministers on the Middle East Peace Process and the founder and director of IPCRI, the Israeli-Palestinian Public Policy Institute. He was the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel between Israel and Hamas for the release of 1,027 prisoners – mainly Palestinians and Arab-Israelis of which 280 were sentenced to life in prison for planning and perpetrating various attacks against Jewish targets that resulted in the killing of 569 Israelis in exchange for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit. Gershon is actively involved in research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, environmental security, political strategy, peace education, economics, culture and in the development of affordable solar projects with the goal of providing clean electricity for 50 million people by 2020.