The new and the old regimes in Egypt are exchanging blows in the daily battles between the government and the now-banned opposition.
A few days ago, celebrations were held to mark the victory in the 1973 October War. The Muslim Brotherhood responded by holding limited protests at Cairo University, and with failed attempts to storm Tahrir Square.
The president and the defense minister delivered political speeches to mark the occasion, often denigrating the Brotherhood. Top Brothers—the ones that have not been detained in Tora Prison, anyway—released counter-statements denying the military’s accusations and broadcast old, leaked audiotapes that show the military in a negative light.
Then the government besieged the Brotherhood’s party by suspending its legal status and confiscating its property.
This is how the battle goes in Egypt. It does not appear there will be reconciliation, although there is a chance that they might bridge the gap through participating in elections. Such measures may later lead to releasing those detained as part of a wider reconciliation movement, but the gap widens with time as a result of the escalation that once again exposes the wrecklessness of the Brotherhood’s leaders.
The most dangerous aspect of the Brotherhood is the emergence of terrorism that has been linked to them. Those violent acts are dangerous because they will grant the Egyptian state the legitimacy to fight the Brotherhood, and they also ensure the popular support the state will need in the upcoming chapter of Egyptian politics.
Despite the Brotherhood’s complaints regarding the era of ousted President Hosni Mubarak due to his legal and political suppression of the organization, the truth is that Mubarak allowed the group to perform its media work and its financial activities, which formed the organization’s backbone. During Mubarak’s 30 years in power, the Brotherhood managed to establish a huge network for the collection of funds. It also managed to establish a network that could spend its funds for political and charity purposes. The organization’s links extended to Gulf countries, Europe and the US, allowing them to collect funds from Egyptian expats.
If the Egyptian regime really decides to dry up the Brotherhood’s resources, the group will be harmed because its relationship with the poorer classes of society will end. The Brotherhood has a history of supporting these classes, financing their livelihood, medical and educational needs in response to the government’s substandard humanitarian services.
It is clear that the current Egyptian regime decided to besiege the Brotherhood financially and to fiercely respond to both its security and financial threats. It is also clear that the Brotherhood has not yet woken up from the shock that struck them in the aftermath of the June 30 protests, which easily toppled the group due to massive popular support for the opposition movement. With the Brotherhood’s absence, the current government is working quickly to finalize the constitution, prepare for the elections, control the presidency for the next four years, and pit public opinion against terrorist operations in Sinai and other areas.
The Brotherhood failed to influence Arab and international public opinion in their favor. All they have now is Qatar, in terms of Arab countries, and most Western countries—which supported them at the beginning—have withdrawn their support. They attempted to create a permanent state of protest. This also fell away, either because they were besieged or because most of the Brotherhood leaders are either detained or on the run.
Parties who supported them, like Hamas, were besieged. Their television channels were shut down and the Libyan borders, over which much of their funding flowed, were closed. Iran, the country that embraced them the most, became embroiled in Syria. Iran does not have an entry route into Egypt anymore, which pretty much means communications with the Brotherhood have been cut off.
After all the restraint imposed upon them and the creation of political alternatives, it does not seem that it’s possible for the Brotherhood to be a real threat against the current Egyptian government: it is only a source of annoyance. The Brotherhood lost governance on July 3, and they are now losing everything else.