Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Egypt: The Brotherhood’s predicament! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has begun to issue reassuring statements to the Egyptian people following their progress in the parliamentary elections, but the reality tells us that the Brotherhood now finds themselves in a predicament because of this electoral victory. They are facing three issues that represent a genuine dilemma, and we don’t know how they will deal with these. These issues are the Camp David Accords, the economy and the Salafists.

Politically, the Muslim Brotherhood will soon find themselves face to face with the Camp David Accords. The Muslim Brotherhood has built their legitimacy upon opposing these accords; opposing the Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak regimes for this reason. This means that today, the Muslim Brotherhood, must say – in actions, not words – whether they want to abolish the treaty. This would mean declaring war on Israel, and it is well known that the Egyptian economy cannot bear any more demonstrations, let alone wars; so will the Muslim Brotherhood, in fact, accept this treaty when they come to power? If they do accept it, then what is the difference between them and Mubarak? The many statements coming out of America about the ongoing communication between the US and the Brotherhood suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt will not dare touch the Camp David Accords, which means that the Brotherhood will be just like Hosni Mubarak, from their first moment in power!

The second dilemma is the economic situation, which has become a real disaster. Egypt is not an oil-producing state like Libya, which means that whoever rules Egypt – or is the strongest party there – must depend on tourism; Egypt’s lifeblood. Attracting tourists requires security, and this goes against any potential violation of the Camp David Accords. Tourism also requires greater openness and freedoms, as well as an economic structure capable of dealing with the global financial system, so that foreign capital investors feel secure in coming to Egypt. The issue also requires a thriving cultural scene, alongside other details. The issue is not just about possessing tourist attractions like the Pyramids, otherwise tourists would have continued to flock to the Afghan Tora Bora mountain range during the Taliban era, and so Egypt’s status as a tourist destination must not be compromised!

If the Brotherhood manages to overcome the two aforementioned predicaments, then this will inevitably put them on course for a sharp collision with the Salafists. This is the Brotherhood’s third dilemma. At this point, the battle will begin over who is entitled to speak on behalf of religion in Egypt, and who is blaspheming religion in the name of politics. At this point the Salafists will become for the Muslim Brotherhood what the Brotherhood themselves were for the Mubarak regime, in other words an ever-present opponent in every arena. Thus, if some are feeling wary regarding the reality of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt today, this is justified. Yet it is the Muslim Brotherhood themselves who should be more concerned, because they are in a real predicament. They are now facing issues that could spoil their enjoyment of power, because if the Muslim Brotherhood applies the ideas they have long promoted, this means that they will lead Egypt towards wars and bankruptcy. On the other hand, if they modernize their attitudes and adopt a more rational line – two of the requirements necessary for those who want to rule – this will mean a blow to their credibility and will also push them towards a fierce battle with Egypt’s Salafists.

How will the Muslim Brotherhood deal with this triple dilemma? This is something that will become clear through the manner in which they deal with the government formation process, the drafting of the new constitution, and determining the powers of the next president.