Saturday, January 8, 2011

Attacks on Christians Show an Islamic Future for Egypt

A radical Egypt would change the world.

The attack on a Coptic Christian church 30 minutes into 2011 shows the growing power of Islamists. Stratfor’s George Friedman explains that the attacks could point to a resurgence of radical Islam in Egypt. A radical Egypt, he explains, would be dangerous for the whole world.

Friedman explains that the attack on the Coptic church was unusual for Egypt both in its size and the choice of target. Egypt usually suffers few terrorist attacks, and when they have occurred, they have usually targeted tourists.
The fact that the attack occurred at the same time that churches were attacked in Nigeria and after al Qaeda threatened Egyptian Copts last month indicates that the Egyptian attacks could be part of a coordinated campaign.
“Obviously, this is speculative,” writes Friedman. “What is clear, however, is that the attack on a church in one country—Egypt—is far from common and was particularly destructive.”
“It is unclear what is stirring beneath the surface of Egypt,” he writes. “Whatever it might be is by necessity cautious. But radical Islamism has caught the imagination of people in other Muslim and Arab countries, and it is unreasonable to assume that it has passed Egypt by. Indeed, it was very much there until Mubarak suppressed it, and it is unlikely to have gone away.”
Egypt is especially vulnerable right now. Mubarak is aging and has left no clear successor. Islamic radicals could use this time to try to take over. The consequences of this could be huge, as Friedman points out:
The Mediterranean, which has been a strategically quiet region, would come to life. The United States would have to reshape its strategy, and Israel would have to refocus its strategic policy. Turkey’s renaissance would have to take seriously a new Islamic power in the Mediterranean. Most important, an Islamist Egypt would give dramatic impetus to radical Islam throughout the Arab world. One of the linchpins of American and European policy in the region would be gone in a crucial part of the world. The transformation of Egypt into an Islamist country would be the single most significant event we could imagine in the Islamic world, beyond an Iranian bomb.

If this were happening in most other countries, it would be a matter of relative unimportance. But Egypt used to be the dominant Arab power, and the last 20 years have been, in my view, an abnormal period. Egyptian inwardness has been driven by an effective effort to repress radical Islamists. It has taken all of the regime’s energy. But the internal dynamic in Egypt is certainly changing as the succession approaches, and the recent church attack was a rare failure of Egyptian security. If such failures were to continue, it would be difficult to predict the outcome.

For a country as important as Egypt, it is a matter to be taken seriously. It is certainly not clear how significant the attack on the church was, whether it is the beginning of something bigger. At this point, however, anything out of the ordinary in Egypt must be taken seriously, if for no other reason than because this is Egypt, Egypt matters more than most countries, and Egypt is changing.
Egypt is indeed changing, and although it may be hard to judge from just analyzing the news alone exactly how Egypt will change, Bible prophecy is clear on the matter. A radical Islamic Egypt will soon be here.