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The General Guide, el-Shater and the foreign conspiracy - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The message that can be taken away from the press conference held by Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mohammed Badie and the group’s strongman Khairat el-Shater was an aggressive one aimed both internally and abroad. It also further strengthened the rumor that has been circulating in recent days that these two are the ones who really run the [Freedom and Justice] party and the government, and that Mohammed Mursi is merely a façade!

However, when President Mursi retracted his unconstitutional declaration, this gave reassurances that he is still in the driving seat, and that the hostile discourse of Badie and el-Shater has had no impact upon the crisis, but was a poor tactic in a moment of failure to confront the street.

Mursi retracting his presidential declaration was the most important thing he has done since assuming office. Being a wise politician, and a pragmatist rather than a dogmatist, he realized that preserving the country is more important than saving face and that his disputes with the opposition can be resolved, and this is part of his presidential duties. His decision narrowed the chasm of dispute, strengthened his position in the street and put the ball in the opposition’s court. More importantly than all of this it saved the new Egyptian regime from a decline than could have led to clashes, perhaps the intervention of the army and a return to the drawing board.

As for what the General Guide Mohammed Badie claimed, and what was repeated by el-Shater, about an internal and foreign conspiracy being behind the opposition in Egypt, the least we can say about this is that it is nonsense and a blatant attempt to escape from the crisis rather than resolve it. The opposition did not suddenly wake up one morning and declare its rebellion, so how can we say it is a conspiracy? The opposition did not contest the legitimate results of the presidential elections, where Mursi won by one percent, so how can we say it its being incited by external bodies?

The President decided all of a sudden to seize the judiciary, dismiss the public prosecutor, adopt a constitution suitable for the Brotherhood only, and render his decisions immune from challenge, contrary to the rules of the system he swore upon in the first place. Is it strange after these appalling steps for revolutionaries, opposition groups and all manner of Egyptian people to come out onto the streets and declare their protests? Of course this is to be expected. However, the General Guide and el-Shater did not take this into account when they claimed “we ate them for breakfast before they could eat us for lunch” after dismissing leaders of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and then again after the public prosecutor was sacked, until the excuse lost all credibility.

Mursi became president legitimately and as such he is expected to commit to the system that brought him to power rather than hijack it. With the recent demonstrations that have rocked Egypt, this proves that the Brotherhood are nothing but a category of the people, not the people as a whole. The Egyptian people openly expressed their rejection of Mursi’s decrees, especially as the president had previously borrowed a saying from the great Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab: “If I deviate from the right path, correct me so that we are not led astray.”

How is an alleged internal and foreign conspiracy to blame for the demonstrations staged by the Egyptian people in protest against Mursi’s decrees, especially as they came in the wake of provocative actions like the Brotherhood’s constitutional referendum?

We all know what the Guide and el-Shater mean by conspiring foreign entities; they mean those in the Gulf and elsewhere. Yet in truth they are accusing countries that have played a fundamental role in the stability of Egypt ever since the fall of the Mubarak regime, not the other way around. Muslim Brotherhood leaders are aware that many members of the group have been working in the Gulf for decades, participating in a financial and cultural exchange, and have never been harassed in any way.

There are certainly concerns about the Brotherhood’s rise to power by virtue of its close ties with Iran, the main enemy of the Gulf States. But like all other regimes in the region it is necessary to coexist, for this is the choice of the Egyptian people and we must respect that. Furthermore, the indicators of President Mursi’s political compass so far have been reassuring. Finally, it is not in the nature of the Gulf States to get involved in the internal conflicts and problems of other states purely on the basis of doubt and suspicion.

The General Guide and the rest of the Brotherhood hawks must understand that their main problem, if not their only problem, is to solve the growing grievances of the Egyptians and their expectations. This will only be possible by reconciling with local forces and by not placing the blame on others.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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