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The region caught between two guides - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Our region has passed through the phase of the Shiite crescent, and likewise the Muslim Brotherhood crescent, and now we have entered the phase of the “guides”. Those who understand this best in our region now are the civil forces of both Egypt and Tunisia, through their respective experiences there, and thus we see their strong opposition to anyone seeking to hijack the path of both countries.

I listened recently to an important, informed source explaining that the danger of this new phase would become a reality if the Brotherhood’s constitution is ratified Egypt. This would mean that the Brotherhood would have successfully kidnapped the Egyptian state and its institutions, in a move that would have a huge impact on the Egyptians, the region, and the expected course of both. The Brotherhood would then seek not only to strengthen their position in Egypt and monopolize power for the next three decades, but would also seek to impose their control over the entire region through universalizing their project. The Brotherhood’s stated project talks about an Islamic caliphate, along the lines of what the Khomeinists in Iran did and are still trying to do, in terms of exporting the revolution there. Therefore the whole region would soon be orientated between a guide in Cairo and a guide in Qom, i.e. one for the Sunnis and one for the Shiites.

If the entire region were to be divided between two guides, one in Cairo and one in Qom, this would simply mean the abolition of the concept of the state. The entire Sunni community would then be subjected to the concept of the Wali al-Faqih, a concept which is strongly opposed even from within the Shia community. Then the region would enter into unprecedentedly complex religious and political conflicts, and this would also have an impact upon Muslims in Europe and Asia. Here it is important to share what I heard from another high-level source: Whenever the West used to discuss the Muslim Brotherhood’s project in the region the debate used to hinge on the Brotherhood pledging its commitment to democracy and having no qualms about allowing tourists to visit the country, even if they wore swimwear on beach resorts. Thus the West was largely preoccupied with superficial matters. Yet after the Brotherhood’s coup in Egypt the West was shocked, and this was confirmed to me by a senior European official, who said there was now huge disappointment towards what the Brotherhood has done in Egypt. Yes the West, and specifically Europe, was shocked by what the Brotherhood did in Egypt, and the biggest shock of all was the sight of Sheikh al-Qaradawi preaching in al-Azhar. Now the West understands that the Brotherhood wants to control al-Azhar, thus reducing any chances for moderation in the foreseeable future whether in Egypt or the region as a whole.

Now the West, and before them a broad spectrum of Egyptians and Tunisians, have begun to sense the danger of the coming days: In the Arab world, the political forces once deceived by the Brotherhood have realized that Egypt is following in the footsteps of Iran. In the West, some institutions have begun to sense the danger of the Brotherhood’s intellectual dominance over the region, because they, i.e. those in the West, understand that the Middle East is just around the corner from being divided between two guides, one in Cairo and one in Qom. This poses a major danger to the region, whereby religious and sectarian conflicts could erupt, and it also poses a major danger to the ideological or religious model of every country in the region, not to mention the fact that it would destroy the concept of the state first and foremost. Those who have studied the Iranian example will know exactly what awaits the region as a whole, where we will all be stuck between a guide in Cairo and a guide in Qom!

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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