WASHINGTON, Feb 13, 2011 -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the massive changes unfolding in Egypt are different than the Iran revolution in 1979.
In a worldwide exclusive interview with "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour -- filmed before Mubarak stepped down -- Barak was asked if Egypt was headed towards an Iranian-style revolution.
"I don't believe that something similar to the Iranian events 30 years ago is happening now. I think that the Egyptians, they have their own way," he said.
Barak, however, warned against Egypt holding elections too soon. He said the only group ready to run and win an election would be the Muslim Brotherhood.
"The real winners of any short-term election, let's say within 90 days, will be the Muslim Brotherhood, because they are already ready to jump and the -- usually in revolutions, if they are violent, there is an eruption of idealist sentiment at the first moment and later on, sooner than later, the only group which is coherent, focused, ready to kill and be killed if necessary, takes power," he said. "That should be avoided in Egypt because that could be a catastrophe for the whole region."
Amanpour asked Barak whether he believed the Brotherhood when they said they don't want to run for the Presidency of Egypt.
"I tend not to believe a radical Muslim movement," he said. But he explained all Islamist groups were not the same. "I think that we should not very easily compare them to, I know, to the most extremist groups of terror and so on. It's an Egyptian version. Many of them are less extremist," he said.
Egypt Israel Peace Treaty
Barak said he didn't see particular danger for the State of Israel in the changing of Egypt's leadership. Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979 after fighting substantial wars in 1949, 1956, 1967 and 1973.
"I, first of all, want to state that I don't think that the relationship between Israel and Egypt is under any risk."
The Egyptian military leadership, the Armed Forces Supreme Council, which now appears to be in control of the country, released a statement on Saturday saying Egypt would uphold its "commitment to all its international treaties."
Democracy Rising in the Middle East
Amanpour asked the Defense Minister if another democracy in the Middle East took "away some of [Israel's] specialness because Israel has always prided itself on being the only democracy in that region."
"Don't threaten us with this. I would be happy to meet with you at the moment that all neighbors will have the same civil society and the same respect to the rule of law and the same kind of active, vibrant democracy that we have," Barak said.
Amanpour Asked Barak About Jordan
"I think that Jordan is strong. I think that they will hold on," he said. "I believe that they've already opened their parliament and their system, the press and others, to many voices... And I hope and wish that they will remain stable for a long time."
Amanpour asked, "Do you think a people's representative Arab Middle East will be more likely to make peace with Israel?"
"If you would make it overnight, probably not," Barak replied. But, he said, there are opportunities for the Middle East to move in what he saw as the right direction.