Egypt Is Lost

What happens next in the Middle East?

JERUSALEM—What a dramatic and shocking transformation we have witnessed! A radical Islamist now presides over the biggest and most powerful state in the Arab world. The president of the United States, of all people, called to personally congratulate Mohammed Morsi. Jubilant members of Hamas celebrated the Muslim Brotherhood victory by firing off live rounds of ammunition in the streets, which resulted in one casualty. And Morsi’s political opponent—the one who just lost the run-off election—has already fled Egypt for the United Arab Emirates.

But this represents a tremendous victory for democracy—so say the fantasists. The Muslim Brotherhood is now peaceful and tolerant; Morsi’s administration is reaching out to Christians and women; and besides, even if everything falls apart, the Egyptian military will keep the Brotherhood in check.

These fantasies will soon be exposed by a brutal reality. As Bret Stephens wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Don’t console yourself with the belief that the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country’s first free presidential election is merely symbolic, since the army still has the guns” (June 25). Iran and Turkey are the two most recent examples of secular militaries that were quickly radicalized.

“Don’t console yourself with the idea that now the Islamists will have to prove themselves capable of governing the country,” Stephens continued. “The Brotherhood is the most successful social organization in the Arab world. Its leaders are politically skillful, economically literate and strategically patient. Its beliefs resonate with poor, rich and middle class alike.”

And now they control the levers of power in the most powerful nation in the Arab world!

“Don’t console yourself,” Stephens concluded, “with hope that Egypt will remain a responsible, status quo player on the international scene. By degrees, Egypt under the Brotherhood will seek to arm Hamas and remilitarize the Sinai. By degrees, it will seek to extract concessions from the U.S. as the price of its good behavior. By degrees, it will make radical alliances in the Middle East and beyond.”

In other words, Egypt is now lost. Whether these radical steps are taken quickly and overtly or slowly and subtly, the outcome is inevitable. “It’s going to be a long and ugly haul,” Stephens wrote. “And it’s just beginning.”

This is just the beginning of a radicalized Islamist state in Egypt. The prophetic implication of this transformation is momentous. And it was prophesied in your Bible, which is why we have been preparing you for this transformation for nearly two decades. Now it’s reality.

The question is: What happens next?

Whenever you talk about the spread of radical Islam in the Middle East, you have to start with Iran. The mullahs in Tehran may often clash with much of the Sunni Arab world, but in Egypt—specifically the Muslim Brotherhood—Iran sees a critically important strategic ally that will greatly strengthen the forces of radical Islam and further isolate Israel.

After Morsi’s victory there was a report by the Iranian Fars news agency that quoted Morsi as saying he was interested in better relations with Tehran. Morsi’s administration later denied the report. But whatever the truth is about that report, you can be sure that Iran is working overtime to build an unshakable alliance with the new Egypt.

Added to that, Morsi’s victory represents a massive strategic victory for Hamas. Over the past year, Morsi has met with Hamas officials several times in Egypt. He’s promised to ease restrictions at the border between Egypt and Gaza, meaning the flow of weapons into Gaza will surely increase.

The Associated Press wrote, “A complete opening of the Gaza-Egypt border, including trade, would also have the unintended consequence of deepening the separation between the West Bank and Gaza …. Regime change in Egypt hits Abbas at a time when he’s increasingly isolated and irrelevant” (June 25).

So who will win the struggle between Hamas and Fatah in the end? If you’ve been following the Trumpet, you already know the answer.

Right after Hamas’s violent overthrow of Gaza in June 2007, my father wrote a co-worker letter that said the Palestinian civil war “should be sending alarm bells throughout the Western world.” Iran, he went on to say, had just taken over Gaza.

“What is going to be Iran’s next move?” my father asked. “Probably, to take over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The Fatah Muslims have the upper hand over Hamas in East Jerusalem, but their control is shaky. Hamas could and probably will get control of the West Bank soon, as they did in Gaza” (emphasis added).

Now Hamas may eventually break free from the Iranian camp, as my father indicated in a recent Key of Davidprogram. But in the short run, it’s likely to play a critical role in radicalizing Fatah. And with an Islamist Egypt now strengthening ties with Iran and Hamas, it surely won’t be much longer before we have an Islamist West Bank—and an Islamist East Jerusalem.

Remember the pro-Morsi campaign from May in which Egyptian cleric Safwat Higazi told tens of thousands of cheering Brotherhood members that Jerusalem would become the new capital of an Arab empire, screaming, “millions of martyrs to march toward Jerusalem”?

The official reaction to Morsi’s victory has been somewhat restrained here in Israel. But the unofficial reaction has been almost unanimous shock and dismay!

One of Israel’s papers, Yedioth Ahronoth, called Morsi’s election a “plague of darkness.” One columnist wrote, “The day may not be far off when the cornerstones of the fragile peace with Egypt are smashed once and for all” (June 25).

Former Israeli ambassador to Egypt Zvi Mazel predicts Morsi’s hold on power will only strengthen over time. As the Times of Israel wrote, “[Mazel] said the incoming president would likely reinstall the Islamist-dominated parliament that was dissolved earlier this month by Egypt’s interim military rulers. And ‘within six months’ … Egypt’s powerful generals would be replaced by figures loyal to the Brotherhood.”

At Maariv, another Israeli newspaper, one columnist wrote, “It’s over: The army will remain in a position of influence, but its time has passed. The street, tradition, religion, the inbuilt Islamist identity—all of these have ridden roughshod over hope, which has been turned into an illusion …. Tunisia and Libya have fallen. Now it’s Egypt’s turn.”

At Israel Hayom, another columnist wrote: “The difficulties that Morsi faces will emerge gradually. When he finds it hard to bridge the gap between Egypt’s political and economic interests and the disappointment of the masses, he may be forced to take populist measures. And in the Middle East this usually means inciting against Israel …. It is easy to envisage Morsi emulating the Islamic Republic [of Iran].”

There just aren’t any positive scenarios for Israel. Israel’s choices range from bad to worse, which is why, as the Jerusalem Postreported, “Israel has been quietly preparing for a possible conflict with Egypt.”

In the short run, war is coming to the Middle East—yes, even to Jerusalem!

Zechariah prophesies of this soon-coming battle: “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city” (Zechariah 14:2).

Jesus Christ prophesies that He will “gather all nations” to Jerusalem for battle. It’s a prophecy about the military forces of this world gathering to fight against Jesus Christ at His return. As Zechariah points out, gathering the nations actually begins with half of Jerusalem falling—to the forces of radical Islam!

If you continue your study with Zechariah 14, you have a step-by-step preview of what happens leading up to Christ’s appearance on the Mount of Olives. Zechariah 14:4 says, “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.”

War is coming to the Middle East—but it culminates in this blessed event: the return of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem! This is why what is occurring in the Middle East is so significant and so thrilling: The radicalization of Egypt is an important step toward the now imminent return of Jesus Christ!