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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 4-Feb-2011
4-Feb-11 News -- The lull before the storm in Egypt as 'Friday of Departure' approaches

Web Log - February, 2011

4-Feb-11 News -- The lull before the storm in Egypt as 'Friday of Departure' approaches

Comments from readers on the Muslim Brotherhood

The lull before the storm in Egypt as 'Friday of Departure' approaches

There was bloodshed in Egypt again on Thursday, as pro- and anti-Mubarak fought each other in Cairo and Alexandria. Still, the streets were quieter on Thursday than they had been for the preceding couple of days.

Cairo (AP)
Cairo (AP)

It may have been the lull before the storm. The protesters have declared this to be "Friday of Departure," the day when Mubarak must step down if massive demonstrations are to be avoided. The demonstrations are scheduled to begin after Friday Muslim prayers and Christian services, at a time when huge numbers of people pour out of mosques and churches into the streets.

On Thursday, president Hosni Mubarak was informally interviewed by Christiane Amanpour at ABC News. According to Amanpour:

"He told me he felt strong and that he was relieved he had made his decision and that speech on Monday to step down. I asked him afterwards whether I could report our conversation. He said yes.

He told me that he is fed up with being president and would like to leave office now, but cannot, he says, for fear that the country would sink into chaos.

When I asked him what he thought seeing the people shouting insults about him and wanting him gone, he said, "I don't care what people say about me. Right now I care about my country, I care about Egypt." ...

And he pledged his loyalty to Egypt. "I would never run away," he said, "I will die on this soil." He also defended his legacy, recounting the many years he has spent leading his country."

My previous articles (see "3-Feb-11 News -- Violence between protester factions kills three in Egypt" and "31-Jan-11 News -- Millions riot in Egypt as the West fears a Muslim Brotherhood victory.") on Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood generated a variety of opinions expressed in comments by readers. Those opinions were similar to opinions being expressed by the public as a whole.

In those articles, I reached the following conclusions, using Generational Dynamics analysis: The violence most likely will fizzle in a few days, or at most a few weeks; and a Muslim Brotherhood political victory will not cause more than cosmetic changes to the peace treaty with Israel.

I would be forced to reexamine and possibly change some of my conclusions if either of the following two things happened: The young protesters suddenly started shouting "Death to Israel" en masse; or there was evidence that the pro- and anti-Mubarak protesters were split along ethnic or religious lines.

Some web site readers rejected the whole argument:"

"I'm NOT buying what is being sold here. Let's see --Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood are bitter enemies. OK-- I hope they ALL send each other to their reward of 72 virgins.---But just because they don't get along gives me NO reason to hold ANY affection for either of these towel head groups. MB remain at peace with Israel???? OH PLEASE!"

"The Brotherhood? seriously? A peaceful religion, are you serious? The world is watching the dreams of all these radicals come true. Peaceful my foot, the world is letting them sneak into their governments, and neighborhoods without much a fight. It will too late if it isn't already. This can be stopped if we only a leader of the free to step up . Obama is not that leader, way to America. Perhaps we should be paying more attention to what our own candidats are really saying and then hold them accountable when they do not. The Tea Party can't do it all."

"I have no doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood will soon get their hands on what is left of the money we have given to Mubarak and use it to buy arms to kill Americans with,you could not make this up"

"'Thus, I donít see any particular danger from the political ascendency of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt' - This is so stunningly clueless, I'm speechless."

"Expecting the Muslim Brotherhood and their current "partner" for head of government El Baradei to come to the table demanding anything but regime change and more "freedom" would be assuming they had suddenly gone stupid, and were reversing their openly declared program of the last few decades. Expecting them not to reveal their true program once they are in power . . ."

"Islam exists to enslave its' followers and to kill the infidel. Any surprise here? I hope Jews come together and remember their history so they can unite against a common foe."

"This whole crisis is media generated. The military controls Egypt. Mubarak came out of the military and was elected as a frontman. The military will replace Mubarak with another straw man and the ball will keep rolling. The Muslim Brotherhood does not have the ability to take power away from Egypt's military."

A few comments were more positive:

"I am praying that your assessment is correct and holds, Mr. Xenakis. I am praying for a solution with a very low body count.."

"As always your analysis is spot on. I've been sharing your insights with my influence group to give a great perspective. When you understand generational theory, you understand a lot! The food prices in Egypt must have skyrocketed."

"I believe you are right on with this assessment Mr. Xenakis. Egypt is a little different than say Syria, or Iran. There is a vast majority of blood-thirsty throwbacks, no denying, but there is the Ancient Egyptian culture that gives some of the people a better sense of overall history and pride not just the death-cult lunacy which Islam provides. Sharia will be coming to Cairo however, I'm bullish on the burka market."

Many commentators are comparing what's happening in Egypt to what happened in Iran in 1979:

"I AM hearing death to Israel and death to America. I am hearing from rioters that Mubarak is a stooge for the Israelis and the Americans and needs to go because of that. Like the Palestinians, these people have been raised to hate Israel and America and this is instinctive. This IS another Iran. And that is the good news. This Might be the start of the Caliphate and a new dark ages for mankind. That is the bad news."

The narrative for the comparison is that in both cases there was a popular uprising against the American-supported leader (the Shah and Mubarak, respectively). In Iran, the opposition was a group of Shia Muslim clerics led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and the opposition only showed its true colors after they had gained power.

The analogy would be that the Muslim Brotherhood would take control of Egypt, and only then would reveal their Islamist intentions, leading to the Great Islamic Revolution.

However, the comparison fails because there are significant differences:

Unless a charismatic Muslim Brotherhood leader emerges, then there's really no chance of an Iran-style revolution in Egypt today.

"I've found a voice of reason in a sea of madness... 'No evidence to support claims that having the MB in some postion of power transitionally or permanently would result in chaos for the region.' Cautious, but optimistic, willing to stake a position without the fear-mongering.

I disagree that the protests will fizzle out inconclusively within a short time, but we'll see. ...

I'm curious about how your position might change if, not due to any change along ethnic or generational lines, the violence escalates to a higher level. That is, there were no immediate end in sight yet there was a sharp increase in casualties for instance, where would you see a "line" crossed and a need for a different course to be taken, if any, and what might that entail?"

If you're talking about a Tiananmen Square style massacre, recall that the massacre did not lead to civil war, and kept the Chinese Communist Party in power, crushing the opposition.

So the analogy in Egypt today would be a massacre by the Mubarak administration, keeping it in power, and crushing the opposition, including the Brotherhood.

That outcome would not contradict any of the conclusions I've reached, but it seems unlikely anyway. Mubarak has not stepped down, but he has taken several conciliatory measures, and is under enormous international pressure to continue to be conciliatory. Furthermore, even if he changes his mind and orders the army to massacre the protesters, it's far from clear that they would obey those orders -- in fact, they've announced several times that they will not shoot at peaceful Egyptian protesters. Despite all that, a massacre scenario is still a possibility.

"I just wanted to understand why, one day (16th) you wrote that Tunisia movement could create a civil war in Egypt, and then "suddenly" (without transition, without explanation) you jumped into Egypt saying that there were no risk of civil war."

The short answer is that the conclusions changed as the facts about Egypt's demonstrations became clearer.

Generational Dynamics forecasting is not a set of formulas. It's a process and a collection of tools that match news events to long-term trends, to produce a short-term forecast. (See "Generational Dynamics forecasting methodology.")

One way to understand certain kinds of forecasts is by means of the quote from Sherlock Holmes: "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."

Sometimes Generational Dynamics cannot tell you what WILL happen, but can tell you what WON'T happen. Once you've eliminated the impossible, you can conclude that what remains will happen. I've used this technique frequently in Lebanon, for example, where a civil war at this time is impossible, since Lebanon is in a generational Awakening era.

It's not that simple in the case of Egypt today, because Egypt is in a generational Crisis era, so it's impossible to eliminate a civil war, and that's what I had in mind at the time I was writing about the effect of the Tunisia uprising in Egypt.

At that time, there were a number of dangerous possibilities. It might have been possible that the Egypt riots pitted a large, organized Muslim Brotherhood organization against the government. Or it might have been possible that the Coptic Christians might be fighting the Muslims.

As it became clear that those possibilities were impossibilities, one could reach the current conclusions.

As usual, this analysis can only be improved with additional information. If you're familiar with the situation in Egypt, and particularly if you've lived in Egypt, then I would welcome your comments, either privately or in the public forum.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Feb-11 News -- The lull before the storm in Egypt as 'Friday of Departure' approaches thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Feb-2011) Permanent Link
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