Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says Israel’s relationship with a new Egypt is not at risk, but if Egyptian elections occur too soon, it might give the Muslim Brotherhood an opportunity that could become “a catastrophe for the whole region.”
“I don’t believe that something similar to the Iranian events of several years ago is happening now [in Egypt],” Barack said in an interview with Christiane Amampour, which aired Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.”
“I think the Egyptians, they have their own way,” Barak said. “I think
that the direction is something that emerged very genuinely and in a spontaneous manner, it was not something that was organized by extremist groups of Muslim radical origins, and I think that we should respect the intention and need.”
Amampour noted that Israel had been dealing with President Hosni Mubarak for 30 years and asked what where the concerns now that he has stepped down.
“I first of all want to state that I don’t think that the relationship between Israel and Egypt is under any risk, or that any kind of operational risk is awaiting us just around the corner,” Barak said, but noted Egypt should take its time before calling new elections.
“The real winners of any of any short-term election – let’s say within 90 days – will be the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said. “Because they are already ready to jump [in]. And usually in revolutions … there is an eruption of idealist sentiments in the first moments, and then later on – sooner than later – the only group that is coherent, focused, ready to kill – and be killed, if necessary – takes power. That should be avoided in Egypt, because that could be a catastrophe for the whole region.”
Amampour said the Muslim Brotherhood has indicated it is not interested in taking power in Egypt, so why was Barak expressing fear of the extremist group.
“I tend not to believe radical Muslim movements,” Barak said, conceding the Muslim Brotherhood is not easily compared to the most extreme groups in the region. “The Egyptian version, many of them are less extremist.”
However, though some Brotherhood members might be less extreme and the group has stayed in the background during the nearly three weeks of Egyptian protest, “they are always deployed to take advantage of it.”
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