It is clear that the discourse of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has become more populist after the group tasted the spoils of politics, elections and power.
We have yet to fully emerge from a crisis with the Brotherhood that began with Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s hostile remarks towards the UAE and his clash with Dubai Police Chief Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan. Following this, a spokesman for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Mahmoud Ghazlan, sided with Sheikh al-Qaradawi and his slanderous comments towards the UAE. This crisis erupted when Egyptian political activist Ahmed al-Gizawi was arrested at Jeddah airport on charges of smuggling illegal drugs. An “activist” mob subsequently attacked the Saudi Embassy in Cairo, vandalizing it with offensive phrases.
At the height of the crisis, and before the Egyptian reconciliation delegation arrived in Riyadh and met with King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz to apologize and turn over a new page, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party in Egypt, released a provocative statement full of populist talk that has no place here. It spoke about national dignity, along with other contrived expressions, and demanded Egyptian participation in the Saudi investigations! This is a clear infringement upon Saudi sovereignty, and the rhetoric only serves to pander to the revolutionary masses.
I say that we have yet to emerge from these successive incidents, because in recent days we have been surprised to learn of a statement from the Saudi Embassy in Egypt, in which the Saudi Ambassador Ahmed Kattan denied the allegations made against him by Khairat al-Shatar, deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Shatar claimed that Saudi Arabia had offered 4 billion Egyptian pounds in return for former President Hosni Mubarak being released and handed over to Riyadh.
Ambassador Kattan requested that the Brotherhood leader Khairat al-Shatar provide evidence to validate his accusations, without merely repeating the claims of some in the Egyptian media.
The Saudi Ambassador did not forget to continually emphasize Saudi Arabia’s fixed policy towards Egypt since the fall of the former regime, namely “respect for all that Egypt decides with regards to its internal affairs”.
Is Khairat al-Shatar unaware of this policy? Then is he – a man who has been legally excluded from running for the presidency – unaware of the dangers of such hostile stances towards Saudi Arabia? Where is the political prudence in such statements and positions from a would-be President of Egypt?
I did not read or hear al-Shatar’s words, but I read the Saudi Embassy’s statement, and one can only look on with wonder at the strange political and media confusion coming from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
Does the Muslim Brotherhood only do its best work in the shadow of the opposition…outside the light of governance; whilst when it nears power its skin burns under the intense heat?
Is the Brotherhood experiencing success or a temporary heightened state of euphoria? We do not know. But we expect a lot of surprises in these tense and difficult moments we are going through.