As much as I hate to see a military takeover and a democratic election subverted, the Egyptian junta's response to the Muslim Brotherhood's victory in this weekend's presidential election may be the best outcome for Egypt -- and for the United States and Israel, as well.
It blocks a potential Islamist takeover of the Arab world's most populous and powerful state and an important American ally. It also means the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty will survive a while longer.
The Islamists won a strong majority earlier in parliamentary elections but that was wiped out Friday when the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court, made up of Mubarak appointees, dissolved parliament just as the nation was to begin voting in the runoff for the presidency.
The Brotherhood’s apparent victory was apparently too much for the generals who had taken over when they forced Hosni Mubarak to resign, and they declared virtual military rule. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) stepped in, giving itself the power to make the laws, control the budget and choose who writes the country's permanent constitution and what is in that document.
Egypt was starting to look like another case in which the road to democracy in the Muslim world goes through the mosques and all the exits are blocked. Many Egyptians fear the Brotherhood could try to turn their country into an Islamic republic
The Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi, according to early results, edged out Mubarak's last prime minister and a former air force commander (a job once held by Mubarak), Ahmed Shafiq, by a 52.5 to 47.5 split. Final results are not expected until Thursday.
The Brotherhood's refusal to accept the dissolution of parliament and other powers taken by the military heightens the likelihood its supporters will take to the streets along with others unhappy with the military's subversion of what many Egyptians had hoped was a democratic revolution.
Following the court decision Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeated her call for a "full transfer of power to a democratically elected government," At this writing there has been no U.S. government response to the election results.
The originally planned July 1 transfer of power seems unlikely at this point.
Secretly Washington and Jerusalem can't be too disappointed to see it delayed and the military to retain its powers since putting the presidency and parliament in the hands of the Islamists poses dangers for both countries.
The leader of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahri, himself an Egyptian and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, called on Egypt to tear up its peace treaty with Israel and adopt Islamic rule.
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