As former western allies are becoming Islamist-ruled, what is in store for Christians?
By David Warren
12/2/2011 Middle East (Ottawa Citizen) – Egypt and Pakistan are lost as western allies, both now passed beyond the point of recall. I define this as the point at which they no longer feel our diplomatic pressure as that of an ally who must be assuaged, for the sake of common interests against common enemies. Henceforth we are simply an enemy, and they are looking for new allies with common interests, against us.
This reality becomes ever more apparent. The overwhelming Islamist victory in the first round of the Egyptian elections fills only one-third of a legislature previously stacked by Hosni Mubarak. On paper, and under cumbersome old and new Egyptian electoral rules, no government will change until next summer.
But in the face of huge public demonstrations, and first-round results still streaming in, the succession is settled. Islamists of various stripes have tellingly swept both urban and rural constituencies. The Muslim Brotherhood, largest and best organized, will now be calling the shots, and the only question is how quickly their coalition shifts from initial tactical feints towards the tiny secular parties, to governing arrangements with the more radical Salafists.
In Pakistan, the public outcry after the latest Afghan frontier incident has pushed the government a final notch towards open anti-Americanism. Hillary Clinton can say what she wants to Islamabad, but Islamabad won’t hear.
The huge amounts both countries receive in (mostly) American military and development aid will continue for a time, by bureaucratic inertia. But it no longer buys any influence. Conversely, cutting it off will be without serious cost, for the military factions in each country which looked westward for their sustenance are already fully isolated.
Just as Erdogan of Turkey displaced the entire pro-NATO officer class, effectively overturning the old Ataturk constitution in doing so (they had a constitutional role as “guardians” of Turkish secularism), so the officers we once looked to in Egypt and Pakistan will be displaced. U.S. policy has anyway been, since President Barack Obama came to power, to abandon them as “impediments to democracy” — just as the policy of President Jimmy Carter was to abandon the Shah of Iran.
Christians throughout the region are now under existential threat. Half of the large Christian minority of Iraq has already fled, in the face of Islamist intimidation since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Ten million Coptic Christians of Egypt now look to that horizon. Polite guarantees by the Muslim Brotherhood mean nothing; Copts are already routinely cast as scapegoats for every failure in Egyptian society, and already physically targeted by the more radical Islamist factions — whom the Muslim Brotherhood will need to consolidate their own power. A “flight out of Egypt” is not impossible to foresee.