The Muslim Brotherhood is aware that Egypt’s Mohammad Mursi will not return to the presidency. But through their protests demanding his reinstatement, they want to confirm what they consider to be their legitimate right to the presidency, presenting themselves as victims in order to make political gains. They also want their opponents to pay a huge price.
Other than that, they have three options for the post-Mursi phase. The first is to participate in the next elections, which would most likely take place under different names and come from independent Brotherhood members or young candidates that would not embarrass the parent organization.
The second option is to increase activities such as demonstrations and sit-ins, in order to obstruct political process of forming a new government.
The third and most dangerous option is to go into hiding and adopt the language of violence; much like extremist Islamists in Algeria when they took refuge in mountains and turned to terrorism in the 1990s. With a jihadist ideology, they sought to topple the regime. The result of this act was that the widely hated regime managed to increase its authority as it became the protector of the people.
The Egyptian Brotherhood leadership knows that the third option is the worst of all. As well as uniting them with their rivals, this would give the army more reason to pursue them and shut down their institutions. Their vast network—which they built during the reign of former president Hosni Mubarak, when there was a long period of truce—would be threatened.
What is also certain is that the Egyptian public will reject the Brotherhood if they resort to violence—especially given that the ruling regime possesses a huge media influence that is capable of mobilizing public opinion against them.
The Brotherhood considered Mursi to be the embodiment of “legitimacy,” and they are requesting the return of legitimacy as a condition to their return to political participation.
They were prepared for a deal that consisted of early elections in which Mursi would be removed from his duties, but the proposal came too late. Nine days before June 30, the Brotherhood requested fewer concessions. But after protesters gathered on a previously unobserved scale, Mursi’s resignation became a necessity.
Mursi could have presented a plan that kept him in office for a few months before early elections. But the situation now is more complicated. There is a president, a prime minister, a transitional government, an army protecting it and a huge electorate supporting it. Mursi’s return has therefore become impossible—except in the event of an unforeseen miracle.
The Brotherhood sought to gain the support of its allies in Islamic groups, but the Salafist Al-Nour Party—considered to be the biggest in number and the most influential after the Brotherhood—let them down and adopted a neutral stance. The Egyptian Brotherhood resorted to their Islamist colleagues in Tunisia, Turkey and Sudan. Such groups, however, lack influence inside Egypt or in the Arab world.
Meanwhile, big states such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan supported the new arrangement politically and economically. At the same time, they realized that chaos in Egypt is a threat to the entire region. By heading towards Iran and Russia at a time when the Middle East has been hit by violence in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, Mursi and the Brotherhood caused concern within the Gulf states. In this context, it is only normal that the Gulf should support Egypt’s new transition, without getting involved in the change itself. And everyone knows that it is impossible for anyone to bend the will of millions of Egyptians who took to the streets demanding Mursi resign.
Regardless of the reasons, Egyptians expressed real anger against the results of Mursi’s administration. Therefore, it is everyone’s right—whether Egyptian or not—to reach new conclusions and politically benefit from them.