New York Times report: “President Hosni Mubarak told the Egyptian people Thursday that he would delegate more authority to his vice president, Omar Suleiman, but that he would not resign his post, contradicting earlier reports that he would step aside and surprising hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered to hail his departure from the political scene…”
NBC’s original report this morning: “Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak is to step down after 17 days of pro-democracy protests, two sources told NBC News on Thursday. Following an all-day meeting of the country’s supreme military council, the army said all the protesters’ demands would be met and a further statement was expected to be made later Thursday, clarifying the situation. Mubarak was expected to formally announce his departure in an address to the nation tonight.”
Breaking: “Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak is to step down after 17 days of pro-democracy protests, two sources told NBC News on Thursday. Following an all-day meeting of the country’s supreme military council, the army said all the protesters’ demands would be met and a further statement was expected to be made later Thursday, clarifying the situation. Mubarak was expected to formally announce his departure in an address to the nation tonight.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered an important address to a policy conference in Jerusalem on Monday of some 400 European lawmakers and dignitaries, organized by the European Friends of Israel. During the address, which I encourage you to read in its entirety, Netanyahu warned of several serious threats to world peace and Western civilization:
The expressed ambition of Shia and Sunni Radical Muslims to build a Islamic kingdom or “caliphate” that will encompass the Middle East and North Africa, and then Europe, and then North America, and then the entire world. Netanyahu did not say the caliphate would be achieved, but he rightly warned that this is what the Radicals want to achieve.
The rise of an Iranian regime with nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can not only reach Israel but more and more of Europe.
An Egypt that doesn’t develop into a peaceful, moderate, secular democracy with a prominent role for the military to provide stability and security but into one of two other scenarios: A) one in which “the Islamists exploit the[ir] influence to gradually take the country into a reverse direction, not towards modernity and reform but backward; or B) one in which “Egypt would go the way of Iran, where calls for progress would be silenced by a dark and violent repression that subjugates its own people and threatens everyone else.”
Netanyahu did not say these threats would inevitably come to pass. To the contrary, he stated clearly, “The good news is that nothing is inevitable. We have the power to protect our common civilization, to roll back the forces of radicalism and to advance a secure peace. One of the keys to defeating this fanaticism is to be able to distinguish friends from enemies.” Well put, Mr. Prime Minister. Let us pray more people have ears to hear, eyes to see and hearts to understand.
“Our commitment, our goal is the maintenance and the expansion of peace. But as we think about the dramatic events that are taking place in Egypt, let’s not lose sight of an even greater earthquake, greater than everything that I described, that could rock our region and rock the world and rock each of your countries and Europe if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons.
“Here’s what Iran is doing today. It’s in Afghanistan; it’s in Iraq; it’s in the Yemen; it’s pretty much taken over Lebanon; it’s taken over Gaza; it’s in the Horn of Africa; it’s even sending its tentacles to the Western Hemisphere, penetrating Latin America. This is what Iran is doing today without nuclear weapons. Imagine what they will do tomorrow with nuclear weapons. Iran already has missiles that reach well beyond Israel. They’re not developing these long-range missiles for us; they can reach us. They’re developing it for you, to reach you. With each passing day, those missiles bring more of Europe into range. And I have some bad news for you: Jose Maria, you’re in the caliphate. They talk about a new caliphate. There’s anyone here from Romania? Borderline. Sweden? You’re out of it for now. They say they can’t possibly mean this, it cannot be that in the 21st century people speak of caliphates, of new-found empires, of an ideology that is suited not for the 21st century but for the 9th century. I urge you not to underestimate this threat to our common civilization. It’s hard for people to understand, especially for Westerners. It’s hard for them to understand fanaticism — especially if sometimes it wears a suit and a tie, or a suit without a tie. It’s very hard to understand that. But it’s there.
“You ask yourself, for example, what was the Taliban thinking when they enabled the dispatch of al-Qaida to bomb New York and Washington. What were they thinking? Were they thinking that the United States would not send an army to bring down their regime? Could they have been that crazy, or that stupid? They weren’t stupid. They were totally irrational.
“Today there’s a competition between the militant Sunnis and the militant Shiites. The militant Shiites have a state. That state is developing nuclear weapons, with unbridled ambitions for power and dominance. They see the United States as the great Satan, we’re the little Satan, and you’re somewhere in between. You’re a middle-sized Satan. That’s how they view us. And there’s no room in the world, in their world, for us and for our societies.
“I believe that the greatest threat facing the world today is the possibility that a militant Islamic regime will meet up with nuclear weapons, or that nuclear weapons will meet up with a militant Islamic regime. The first is called Iran, the second is called Pakistan. Given the events that are unfolding in our region, there are other possibilities as well. This cannot be allowed to happen.
“The good news is that nothing is inevitable. We have the power to protect our common civilization, to roll back the forces of radicalism and to advance a secure peace. One of the keys to defeating this fanaticism is to be able to distinguish friends from enemies. In this battle between the 21st century and the 9th century, between freedom and despotism, between progress and primitivism, Europe and Israel stand squarely on the same side…..”
“We should not doubt that when[al Qaeda’s Ayman] Zawahiri and his cohorts heard the news from Tahrir Square, they were probably jubilant that the revolution they had sought for so long had begun. They were likely also frustrated that they were not there to hijack it and lead it toward the radical Islamist state they seek. Zawahiri is probably doing whatever he can to play catch-up—to dispatch his supporters to Egypt to take control of the revolution.”
“If there is a need for a speedy resolution to the present impasse, the answer should not be an accelerated move to new elections. Where elections are concerned, speed kills. Elections are an important element of democracy, but they are not synonymous with democracy. Few things can do more harm to a nascent democracy than premature elections. To see the proof, look at the Bush administration’s disastrous insistence on elections in Palestine and Iraq well before those societies were ready for them. Egypt is not ready to have good elections. It needs a new constitution and time for viable political leaders to establish parties, something the Mubarak regime prevented for 30 years. It is an open question whether eight months will be enough, but advancing that timetable would be incredibly reckless….It could be disastrous if the Brotherhood got to pick the next president of Egypt simply because it was the only organized party when elections were held.”
In a new column posted at www.joshuafund.net, my friend Tom Doyle — a pastor with a real heart and focus on the Church in the Muslim world — writes that “despite the non-stop stream of bad news from a nation falling apart at the seams, there is also good news in Egypt that isn’t getting reported by the mainstream media.” For one thing, “many ministries in that Biblical country are seeing God moving in very powerful ways in recent years. Egyptians are coming to faith in Christ, growing in their faith, pastors are being trained and encouraged, and the Church as a whole is growing.” Tom, who was just in Egypt last month, urges followers of Jesus Christ around the world to pray for the people of Egypt, and offers some practical suggestions. To read his full column, please click here.
What is the future of Egypt? The revolution is intensifying there currently, as I’ve been writing about. But this is just the beginning.The Lord has much to say about that actually, and Egypt plays an important role in End Times Bible prophecy. We’ve just produced and posted an 8 minute video on The Joshua Fund website — click here. looking at Matthew chapter 24, describing the rise of “lawlessness” in the last days before the return of Jesus Christ; and Isaiah chapter 19, which describes a very difficult, violent and economically disastrous future for Egypt in the last days, and even worse leadership than it has had in the past….but there is also hope, there is good news — very good news — in Egypt’s future as well. The God of the Bible loves the people of Egypt. He is determined to get their attention and draw them into a personal relationship with Him through faith in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Hebrew Prophet Isaiah speaks of this divine love for Egypt. Please take some time to watch, to read Matthew 24 and Isaiah 19 on your own, and to share the video with others. Then please post your comments on our “Epicenter Team” page on Facebook. Thanks so much, and may God bless you.
>>UPDATED: Thirty-two years ago this week, the Islamic Revolution reached its zenith in Iran. The Shah had been forced to flee. His regime had collapsed. And on February 1, 1979, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini landed at Tehran International Airport, welcomed by throngs of Islamic militants thinking he was the Twelfth Imam and shouting, “The Holy One has come! The Holy One has come!”
Khomeini’s expressed mission, however, was not simply to seize control of Iran. He vowed to “export the Islamic Revolution.” Iran has been funding terrorist and subversive groups ever since.
If Egypt falls into the hands of the Radicals, this will be a disaster of historic proportions. Egypt and Iran would be the Twin Towers of the epicenter, two nations that have collapsed at the hands of the jihadists who are determined to rebuild the Islamic caliphate and usher in the End of Days, even if many in our foreign policy establishment don’t recognize this.
In many ways, Egypt and Iran could not be more different. Egypt is ethnically Arab and spiritually Sunni. Iran is ethnically Persian and spiritually Shia. Traditionally, Arabs and Persians have hated each other. So have Sunnis and Shias. But now they are coming together for two common objectives:
To surround Israel, destroy the Jews, and capture Jerusalem for Islam.
To surround the Arabian peninsula, destroy the “apostate” House of Saud regime, and capture control of Mecca and Medina
This is why the Iranian regime is so excited by what is happening in Egypt, and determined to help where and how they can.
“Uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia will spell an ‘irreparable defeat’ for the United States, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Friday, adding that the recent wave of unrest sweeping through the Mideast was a result of Iran’s Islamic Revolution,” reports Reuters and Haaretz.
“Speaking with worshippers during Friday prayers in Tehran, Khamenei said that ‘if they [protesters] are able to push this through then what will happen to the U.S. policies in the region will be an irreparable defeat for America….Today’s events in North of Africa, Egypt, Tunisia and certain other countries have another sense for the Iranian nation. They have special meaning. This is the same as ‘Islamic awakening,’ which is the result of the victory of the big revolution of the Iranian nation,” the Supreme Leader was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying.”
“The Iranian Foreign Ministry statement called upon people and governments around the world to strongly condemn what it said were Israeli and American ‘interferences aimed at diverting Egyptians’ justice-seeking movement, by creating counter-revolt and using rioters….Iran also warns that any opposition to the movement of the Egyptian people … will bring about the anger and hatred of all Muslims around the world,’ the statement said.”
From CBN’s website: “What does a vacuum of leadership in Egypt mean for the future of the region? And could the events there lead to Israel being further isolated? Author Joel Rosenberg has written several books on the Middle East and writes regularly on the subject on his blog at the web site joelrosenberg.com. He spoke with CBN International Correspondent George Thomas about the events in Egypt and what they mean for the U.S., Israel, and the Middle East.”
UPDATE: The Joshua Fund’s Israel tour in May and the 2011 Epicenter Conference in Jerusalem are now sold out. We are no longer able to take reservations. Thanks so much to everyone who signed up! We’ll let you know soon how you can watch portions of the conference via webcast and the full conference via DVD. As turmoil builds in the Middle East, please pray that the Lord really uses this conference and the prayer & vision tour to educate and mobilize many believers to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. Please also prayerfully consider contributing financially to The Joshua Fund to help us cover the full costs of these and other educational events. Thanks so much.
The Obama administration is playing with gasoline near an open flame. As lawlessness and violence continues to spread through Cairo and other cities, senior White House and State Department officials are inexplicably indicating that they are now interested in welcoming the Muslim Brotherhood and other “non-secular” groups into whatever new government is created once Hosni Mubarak leaves office, as he has indicated he is now willing to do. Note: As of 2pm eastern Wednesday, 1 Egyptian had died and at least 600 were wounded in violent clashes in Cairo.
The Los Angeles Times reports, “The Obama administration said for the first time that it supports a role for groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned Islamist organization, in a reformed Egyptian government…..White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that a reformed government ‘has to include a whole host of important nonsecular actors that give Egypt a strong chance to continue to be [a] stable and reliable partner.'”
The New York Times reports: “White House staff members ‘made clear that they did not rule out engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood as part of an orderly process,’ according to one attendee [to a meeting of Mideast experts with three officials of the National Security Council], who like others interviewed for this article spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to talk publicly about the meeting. The Muslim group had been suppressed by Mr. Mubarak, and Bush administration officials believed it was involved in terrorist activities. It renounced violence years ago. Several times, two other attendees said, White House staff members said that Mr. Obama believed that Egyptian politics needed to encompass ‘nonsecular’ parties: diplomatic-speak for the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Feb 2 UPDATE — The Washington Post reports: “As it braces for the likelihood of a new ruler in Egypt, the U.S. government is rapidly reassessing its tenuous relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, an opposition movement whose fundamentalist ideology has long been a source of distrust in Washington….The move drew the skepticism of some U.S. officials who have argued that the White House should embrace opposition groups that are more likely to support a democratic government in Egypt, rather than one dedicated to the establishment of religious law. It also marked a change from previous days, when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other officials expressed concern that the uprising in Egypt could shift power to an Islamist government much like the one in Iran, where ayatollah-led factions elbowed aside other groups to seize control of the country in 1979.”
Few moves could be more disastrous. Does the administration not understand who they are dealing with?
Meanwhile, Mohammed ElBaradei continues to prove he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing by continuing to deny that the Muslim Brotherhood is an extremist Radical group intent on building an Islamic caliphate. Instead, he says they are a peaceful group and should be included in national politics in Egypt just like evangelical Christians are including in the U.s. and Orthodox Jews in Israel. In an interview picked up by Politics Daily, ElBaradei “said the Muslim Brotherhood, which had the largest organized opposition to the government, did not pose the threat of turning Egypt into another Iran. ‘This is totally bogus,’ ElBaradei said. ‘They are no way extremists. They are no way using violence. They are not a majority of the Egyptian people. They will not be more than maybe 20 percent of the Egyptian people. You have to include them like, you know, new evangelicals, you know, groups in the U.S., like the orthodox Jews in Jerusalem.'” Latest headlines:
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UPDATED ON TUESDAY: Last week, few Westerners knew the name Mohamed ElBaradei. Today, this calm, genteel-sounding, Nobel laureate has suddenly emerged as the face of the protest movement in Egypt. But who is he really, and is he a force for genuine, positive change? The New York Timesreported this morning that U.S. officials are trying to assess this very question.
At first glance, ElBaradei’s credentials suggest he could be a leader the West could support. Born to a middle-class family in Cairo in 1942, ElBaradei was largely educated in the West. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cairo, he went on to earn an advanced degree in Switzerland and later a Ph.D. in international law from New York University. He is fluent in English, French, and German, aside from his native Arabic. He lived in the U.S. for some fifteen years, and more recently has resided in Vienna. He has served in various capacities for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, as a United Nations diplomat, and as a speaker and lecturer in the U.S. and Europe.
However, the closer one looks at ElBaradei’s career and public statements, the more troubling the image becomes. Indeed, three clues tell us the answer is “no,” ElBaradei is not someone we can trust, and certainly not someone we want running Egypt. To the contrary, he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and we must not let him gain power.
First, Mohamed ElBaradei is an apologist for Iran. As head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, from 1997 to 2009, the Iranians repeatedly lied to ElBaradei’s face, and he either let them or didn’t know the difference. The Iranians dramatically accelerated their nuclear enrichment program in violation of U.N. resolutions and international law during those 12 years. But ElBaradei never seemed bothered. Iran built three secret nuclear facilities during this time, yet ElBaredei never seemed to notice (until other intelligence agencies called his attention to them). On Monday night, CSPAN ran a presentation ElBaradei made at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in April. Those who watched it saw him say yet again that he opposes economic sanctions on Iran and even opposes the last case scenario of a preemptive strike against Iran, saying he things “building trust” and more “negotiations” will actually stop Iran from getting the Bomb. Foolish and shortsighted though these positions are, at least he is consistent. ElBaradei has opposed economic sanctions on Iran for quite some time. What’s more, he actually thinks the whole notion of the Iranian nucleaer “threat” is hyped and is neither particularly severe nor urgent. For more on ElBaradei and Iran, consider the following articles:
ElBaradei’s Real Agenda — excerpt: “Mr. ElBaradei’s report culminates a career of freelancing and fecklessness which has crippled the reputation of the organization he directs. He has used his Nobel Prize to cultivate an image of a technocratic lawyer interested in peace and justice and above politics. In reality, he is a deeply political figure, animated by antipathy for the West and for Israel on what has increasingly become a single-minded crusade to rescue favored regimes from charges of proliferation.”
Second, ElBaredei has demonstrated he is anti-Israel. During his tenure at the IAEA, Iranian leaders publicly and consistently called for the “annihilation” of Israel, denied the Holocaust of six million Jews during World War II, said that the Jewish State was doomed to destruction, that the fall of Israel was “imminent,” as was the coming of the Twelfth Imam which would coincide with the destruction of not just Israel but also the U.S. At the same time, the Iranians feverishly developed their capacities to accomplish the destruction of Israel and our regional allies, including building and deploying ballistic missiles capable of reaching Israel and Europe. Yet in 2009, ElBaradei actually declared that Israel was the greatest threat to the peace and security of the Middle East, not Iran.Moreover, up through 2007, ElBaradei completely missed the fact that the North Koreans were helping Syria build a nuclear reactor and nuclear research facilities in violation of international law, facilities that could have led the Assad regime to build atomic weapons. Yet when Israel took decisive action to neutralize the Syrian threat since the IAEA was doing nothing, ElBaradei condemned Israel, not Syria.
In an interview last week with the German publication Der Spiegel, ElBaradei said: “We should stop demonizing the Muslim Brotherhood,” adding that “they have not committed any acts of violence in five decades. They too want change. If we want democracy and freedom, we have to include them instead of marginalizing them.”
Is he kidding? The Muslim Brotherhood has been one of the most anti-Western, virulently jihadist organizations in the Middle East for decades. They have believed and taught that Islam is the answer, and violent jihad is the way. This was true of its founder Hassan al-Banna. This was true of its intellectual leader Sayyid Qutb in the 1950s and 1960s. This is true of its most famous and deadly disciples, including Osama bin Laden (who was recruited into the Brotherhood by a Syrian high school teacher), and his deputy, Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian national who was also part of the Brotherhood until he joined bin Laden to build al Qaeda as an even more violent and radical Islamist group. It remains true with the Hamas terror movement in Gaza, which is an offshoot of the Egyptian Brotherhood. I document all this in my 2009 non-fiction book, Inside The Revolution.
For ElBaradei to go on worldwide television and publicly deny the Brotherhood is an Islamic fundamentalist group that wants to build an Islamic caliphate along similar lines to the mullahs in Iran suggests that he is either an idiot, or a liar. Personally, I don’t believe he is an idiot. The question is whether the Brotherhood is latching onto ElBaradei’s suddenly stardom, or whether their relationship goes back longer than most realize. Are they using each other for tactical purposes right now, or did ElBaradei choose some time ago to become the kinder, gentler face of a movement that would bring great oppression to the Egyptian people, destroy the U.S.-Egyptian alliance, abrogate the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, and seek to make Egypt part of some new Islamic caliphate.
Unfortunately, there is not a genuine, sincere and widely recognized and popular leader of the Reform movement in Egypt right now, someone who passionately believes in advancing free markets, free elections and the protection of human rights and the rule of law. There is no one visible in Egypt at the moment who can convincingly take Hosni Mubarak’s place, build on the country’s pro-Western recent heritage, maintain peaceful ties with Israel and robustly oppose the mullahs in Iran and their bloodthirsty quest for an Islamic Revolution and the Islamic Bomb.
Mohammed ElBaradei is definitely not the guy. He is a false prophet in bed with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. We must keep looking for a true Reformer. In the meantime, we must do everything in our power to prevent the Radicals from seizing Cairo, and the rest of the Sunni world with it.
Here’s the transcript of the stunning interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and ElBaradei (or watch this video — this portion begins at 7:12 minutes into the clip):
CNN’s FAREED ZAKARIA: Mohamed, one of the visions that haunts Americans is of the Iranian revolution, where a dictator, pro-American dictator, was replaced by an even worse regime that was even more anti-American and more threatening to the region. People worry about the Muslim Brotherhood. Are you confident that a post-Mubarak Egypt will not give rise to some kind of Islamic fundamentalist force that will undermine the democracy of Egypt?
MOHAMMED ELBARADEI: I’m quite confident of that, Fareed. This is a myth that was sold by the Mubarak regime, that it’s either us, the ruthless dictators, or above them the al Qaeda types. You know, the Muslim Brotherhood has nothing to do with the Iranian model, has nothing to do with extremism, as we have seen it in Afghanistan and other places. The Muslim Brotherhood is a religiously conservative group. They are a minority in Egypt. They are not a majority of the Egyptian people, but they have a lot of credibility because all the other liberal parties have been smothered for 30 years. They are in favor of a federalist state. They are in favor of a wording on the base of constitution that….every Egyptian has the same rights, same obligation, that the state in no way will be a state based on religion. And I have been reaching out to them. We need to include them. They are part of the Egyptian society, as much as the Marxist party here. I think this myth that has been perpetuated and sold by the regime has no – has no iota of reality. As you know, Fareed, I’ve worked with Iranians, I’ve worked here. There is 100 percent difference between the two societies.
ZAKARIA: If there were a democratic government with Muslim Brotherhood participation, do you believe that Egypt would still be at peace with Israel?
ELBARADEI: Of course. I mean, I – again, the whole issue of peace in the Middle East is an issue which everybody – nobody wants to go to war, Fareed.
For more on the dangers posed by the Muslim Brotherhood: