Gerald Warner: After the frenzy of the Arab Spring comes the harsh Islamic winter

Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi. Picture: AP
Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi. Picture: AP
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EGYPT is one of the ludicrously styled “Arab Spring” states that is beginning to expose the ­realities underlying that western delusion.

President Mohammed Morsi’s promulgation of a new constitution and arrogation to himself of unchallengeable powers has already provoked riots in various parts of the country. The circumstances in which the constitution was adopted had more the flavour of a coup d’état than of normal parliamentary proceedings.

Knowing that the constitutional court was due to meet today and probably dissolve the constituent assembly, the Muslim Brotherhood government accelerated the parliamentary proceedings. Instead of deliberating the new constitution over a two-month term, its 230 clauses were successively approved over a period of 16 hours. The process was carried out by just 85 of the constitutional panel since the Christian, liberal and secularist members had withdrawn. As they were a ­minority, that gesture cannot be said to have ­affected the outcome. Now Egypt has a constitution that entrenches the ­Muslim Brotherhood in power, which has ­provoked much rending of garments among western liberal commentators.

What did they expect? At the election, the Muslim Brotherhood, then part of the Democratic Alliance coalition of parties, won 116 parliamentary seats; the Islamist block won 123; and the independent candidates put up by the Brotherhood won 101 of the 168 seats reserved for “independents”. In an assembly of 508 seats, that never looked like a parliament that was going to rush through legislation favouring exclusion of religion from the public square, same-sex marriage, quotas for women and all the other totems of liberalism beloved of western commentators. The large percentage of the vote going to Islamist candidates belies any claims that this result was “undemocratic”. Old Middle Eastern hands could have told the starry-eyed Guardianistas that democracy on the Nile does not produce the same outcome as on the banks of the Thames.

Sharia law is now enshrined in the Egyptian constitution, as it will eventually be in many other “Arab Spring” (Aw, puleeze!) states. There has been rioting against Morsi’s seizure of plenary power, resulting in two deaths and several hundred wounded. That does not mean, however, that Morsi is an isolated tyrant and that the opposition represents the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people – to recycle a nauseating mantra from domestic politics. Between them, the two main Islamist groupings won 61 per cent of the vote at the first free election since the fall of the monarchy in 1952. That may not play well in Tahrir Square, in Downing Street or in Portland Place, but it is a fact.

That is the problem with those pesky voters, as any EU bureaucrat will tell you: sometimes they produce the wrong result. Hosni Mubarak was the best friend the West had in one of the most tinderbox areas on Earth; he made uneasy peace with Israel, kept the lid on smouldering fanaticism and was a reliable ally. Because he did not conform to the increasingly discredited western democratic model, however, the West gave every encouragement to those who brought him down, along with all the other dominoes during the “Arab Spring” hysteria. Now the Muslim Brotherhood is spreading its influence. We can expect to see the Middle East Islamicised over the next decade. Nice one, Barack. Well done, Dave. Do the burnt children fear the fire? No: even today they are striving to destabilise Syria. At least the architects of the old Empire intervened to establish order; the new colonialism is a purely destructive force.

Although the Muslim Brotherhood is not a coherent, centrally controlled international conspiracy, that does not make it ineffectual. Its offshoot, the al-Nahda organisation in Tunisia under Rachid al-Ghannouchi, who was a leader of the revolution, poses as moderate, refraining from imposing Sharia law; but the direction is unmistakable. In Syria, the Brotherhood was almost wiped out by the Assads but today dominates and subverts the opposition for its own ends. In Jordan it is dangerously destabilising the Hashemite monarchy. Both Hamas and al-Qaeda, though foes, are offshoots of the Brotherhood. Unlike them, the Brotherhood’s leadership has great patience and wears a mask of moderation when tactically advantageous.

If western correspondents talked to people other than doctors, engineers and iPhone-toting youths in Tahrir Square, some of this might be reflected in their reports. The “democracy” protesters in Tahrir are being given much leeway, but such protests are not necessarily to their advantage, considering the massive crowds the Brotherhood and the Salafists can unleash onto the streets when it suits them. Egypt, a strategically crucial nation of 82 million people, has been Islamicised. Now William Hague is itching to arm ­similar forces in Syria. Whom the gods wish to destroy…«

Twitter: @GeraldWarner1