(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Not surprisingly, the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate for the Egyptian presidential election has made it. Those who wished for a different outcome should remember the sweeping changes that have hit the region over the last 18 months.
For the first time now, there is a president who epitomised the peaceful and democratic ascendance of Islamists to power in the region. This fact presents opportunities as well as challenges for different players or stakeholders.
It really is difficult to envision a Turkish model in Egypt. While the ruling Islamic party in Turkey does not take issue with the secularism of the state, Egyptian Islamists have fought tooth and nail all attempts to bring about secularism in Egypt. All Gallup polls conducted in Turkey and Egypt over the last decade indicate that the public in Egypt is far more prone to accept Islamic law as the only source of legislation.
Many Egyptians ponder whether the Islamists' takeover will translate into policies that hinder public and individual liberties. One cannot take the assuring statements of the new president at face value, but at the same time, one cannot rule out the fact the Islamists can be pragmatic.
Unlike the ousted president Hosni Mubarak, the new Islamist president will have a hard time justifying his compliance with the American policy in the region, should he seek to continue Egypt's traditional policy. Although he said that his country would honour international agreements - an indirect reference to peace with Israel - that is easier said than done.
His legitimacy is derived from the grassroots movement and not from a functioning relationship with great powers. Therefore, this reality will, by and large, likely to inform his conduct of foreign policy.
Among all stakeholders in Egypt, the United States is the most relevant player. Since the demise of Mubarak in February last year, Washington has failed to shape events in Egypt. Republicans will surely accuse President Barack Obama of lacking leadership on Egypt. Republican candidate Mitt Romney has charged Obama with failure in a range of foreign policy issues. And yet, when it comes to Egypt, the Republicans never articulated a better policy. Indeed, many observers ascribe the outbreak of the Arab Spring to the Bush administration's policy of democracy promotion that was embraced by the then-secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and her cronies.
Neoconservative figures - who were in the driving seat of the Bush administration - argued that democracy promotion was the remedy to all extremism in the Middle East.
When the US had to respond positively to the Egyptian revolution, it had to hastily devise a strategy to avoid the current outcome. The youthful demonstrators lacked organisation and resilience. The Islamists - the most organised group - won. All American attempts to affect politics through aid to NGOs were too little and too late. Worse, the American attempts backfired, as Washington was widely accused of interference.
One of the pitfalls of the American policy in this part of the world, and indeed the reason for anti-American sentiment, is that Washington has failed to cultivate a better relationship with the people. The traditional American policy of buying relationships with powerful militaries in countries like Egypt - and even in Pakistan - while ignoring the importance of cultivating a better image should be the lesson the US needs to learn.
To cultivate a better image and keep distance from the militaries in the "allied" countries, the US needs to change its policy, a difficult matter given domestic politics in Washington.