Israeli legislator Benjamin Ben-Eliezer spoke with Egyptian Prime Minister Hosni Mubarak the day before Mubarak resigned, and related the conversation to Haaretz:
“He had very tough things to say about the United States,” said Ben-Eliezer, a member of the Labor Party who has held talks with Mubarak on numerous occasions while serving in various Israeli coalition governments.
“He gave me a lesson in democracy and said: ‘We see the democracy the United States spearheaded in Iran and with Hamas, in Gaza, and that’s the fate of the Middle East,'” Ben-Eliezer said.
“‘They may be talking about democracy but they don’t know what they’re talking about and the result will be extremism and radical Islam,'” he quoted Mubarak as saying. …
Ben-Eliezer said Mubarak expanded in the telephone call on “what he expects will happen in the Middle East after his fall”.
“He contended the snowball (of civil unrest) won’t stop in Egypt and it wouldn’t skip any Arab country in the Middle East and in the Gulf.
“He said ‘I won’t be surprised if in the future you see more extremism and radical Islam and more disturbances — dramatic changes and upheavals,” Ben-Eliezer added.
Of course, a skeptic might say that Mubarak is like the right-wing dictators of the Cold War era who argued that they were the only alternative to Communism. A counter-skeptic might say that some of those dictators were right.
My own guess is that the future foretold by Mubarak is possible but by no means foreordained. Navigating the transition to some form of real democracy in Egypt will, at best, require careful management. In the event of sudden collapse, the Muslim Brotherhood seems likely to fill the vacuum. It will take time for secular parties and politicians to develop as viable alternatives. In the meantime, whatever influence the U.S. possesses should be directed toward supporting the Egyptian military and opposing any quick transition to a regime that includes the Brotherhood or other radical Muslim groups.