This article was published in Asharq al-Awsat on 01/2011
A number of Islamists in Britain have demanded that the Egyptian army side with the people regarding the ongoing protests in the country against the Hosni Mubarak regime. Yasser al-Sirri, Director of the “Islamic Observation Centre”, a body that campaigns for Islamist detainees rights around the world, released an open statement addressing the Egyptian army. This statement read "To the Egyptian army, men of the armed forces: move and side with the people before it is too late”.
Whilst Dr. Kemal Helbawy, former spokesman for the International Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West, has provided Asharq al-Awsat with four decisive scenarios with regards to how Hosni Mubarak's regime could collapse, and what will happen after this:
- The first scenario would see Mubarak's new appointments remaining in government, in this case, demonstrations would continue in full, or intermittently, until the regime fell.
- The second scenario would see Mubarak leaving [office], after he has – constitutionally – appointed somebody who can succeed him and rule Egypt, namely his vice president General Omar Suleiman, and so there would be no political vacuum in this case. Perhaps Mubarak would seek refuge in Switzerland, Germany, Britain, or even go to Saudi Arabia, at the kind invitation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz.
- According to Helbawy, founder of the Islamic League of Britain, the third scenario would see the entire Egyptian government being overthrown due to the continuous demonstrations in all Egyptian cities. Mubarak would be ousted as a result of this, and the people would opt for Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei, who was yesterday nominated by five opposition groups to form a temporary ‘National Salvation Government’. In this case, constitutional amendments would be made, emergency law abolished, and there would be freedom to form political parties. Elections would then be held in 6 months or a year, with the people free to choose the leader they wanted.
- Helbawy described a fourth scenario with regards to how Mubarak could lose power, and this would see the Egyptian army directly intervening and nominating a head of state, or imposing a leader upon the country, regardless of Mubarak's preferences with regards to a successor. Perhaps there will be a forthcoming role for the Egyptian Army’s Chief of Staff, General Sami Annan, who will have the final [military] decision after coordinating with the Republican Guard. According to Helbawy, the worst-case scenario would see the Egyptian army acceding to Mubarak’s choices.
Egyptian Islamist, Dr. Hani al-Sibai, who is the director of the ‘al-Maqrizi Centre’ in London, similarly issued a statement to the people of Egypt. This statement, which addresses "the descendants of Amr Ibn al-Aas, Ubada Ibn al-Saamit, and Abdullah Ibn Hudhafah", called for "God to remove the fear from your hearts, and make your views neither eastern nor western, but Islamic”. Al-Sibai warned of “the people’s uprising being hijacked by a [radical] Islamist trend”.
He also revealed to Asharq al-Awsat that a number of Islamists from al-Fayoum prison had escaped, after the guards fled following an exchange of gunfire and tear gas, leaving the prison gates open. Al-Sibai said that some of the imprisoned Islamists’ families had been in touch with him, and had informed him that their relatives had contacted them after escaping from prison, that they did not have any money, and that they intended to hide for fear of prosecution and being pursued.
For his part, Yasser al-Sirri told Asharq al-Awsat that it was the duty of the armed forces to "protect the country from thieves and traitors… and act swiftly before the streets are overflowing with Egyptian blood… Oh people of Egypt, you are a free people, who reject humiliation and shame, so continue the fight against injustice”. Al-Sirri added “I ask God Almighty to realize the demands of the Egyptian people, in obtaining their rights to freedom, and a decent standard of living, without government men thieving and looting. I ask God to respond to the honorable members of the armed forces, to settle the future of the nation”.