So now let’s take it case by case. Now we are coming to Egypt. The uprising in Egypt was initiated by the young generation. The uprising achieved two things. One is it made the lives of dictators impossible. Today, if you are looking for a safe job, don’t become a dictator. That was done by the young generation. Secondly, they pushed the countries to go to elections. But when it came to elections, they weren’t prepared, so they lost the elections. Neither the winner nor the loser thinks they have reached a permanent solution. The winners because they don’t know [how] to save Egypt from the economic situation.
Do you mean the Muslim Brotherhood or presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq?
The Muslim Brothers. They don’t have a solution to the economic or security situation in Egypt because the army enjoyed a sort of independence. If you dismantle the army and submit it to the Muslim Brothers, who will give them arms? Egypt has very serious security problems, including the future of the Nile, the distribution of the water of the Nile and the situation in the Sinai. It’s one thing to be a preacher, and it’s another to be a strategist. This was a victory of preachers, not of strategists.
Let’s take a simple problem: One of the most important branches of the Egyptian economy is tourism. No bikinis, no tourism. So they have to decide what to do.
Egypt’s treaty with Israel is at stake.
Yes. With that they will be careful because they understand that even if you pray, you need food for breakfast.
What happens to the treaty?
I think they will be very careful not to dismantle it. These uprisings have nothing to do with Israel. Israel isn’t the reason, and Israel isn’t the solution.
What is going to happen with Iran? It has been reported that you are against bombing Iran and in favor of sanctions.
My own assessment is that the Iranians are beginning to feel the impact of the economic sanctions. But deep in their hearts they think they will be able to split the camp that knows that a nuclear bomb in Iran is dangerous. So they will build on the split. And that is the reason why they are going into negotiations but not negotiating.
You believe Iran is hoping for a split between the United States and Europe, for example?
Even wider than that. What is wrong with the Iranians in addition to the nuclear bomb? This is the only country on Earth in the 21st century that has renewed imperialistic ambitions. They really want to become the hegemon of the Middle East in an age that gave up imperialism.
Would you be in favor of a military option?
The problem is the following: If we would say only economic sanctions [will be imposed], then the Iranians will say, “Okay, we will wait until it will be over.” Now what the Americans and Europeans and Israelis are saying is, “If you won’t answer the economic challenge, all other options are on the table.” It will not end there. Without that, there is no chance that the sanctions will [work].
Without the threat of military action?
Not a threat — more than a threat. The Iranians must be convinced this is not just a tactic.