The Muslim Brotherhood is aware that Egypt’s Mohammad Mursi will not return as president. But through their protests demanding he return, they want to prove what they consider to be their legitimate right and present themselves as victims in order to make political gains. They also want their rivals to pay a huge price.
Other than that, they have three options for the post-Mursi phase. The first is to participate in the upcoming elections, probably with fresh candidates from independent Brotherhood members or youths that won't embarrass the mother organization.
The second option is to escalate their activity and obstruct political advances with protests. The third and the most dangerous option is to go into hiding and blast out hate speech, much like extremist Islamists in Algeria did in the 1990s when they took refuge in mountains and adopted terrorism under Jihadist slogans for the purpose of toppling the regime. The result of this act was that the widely hated regime became stronger as the protector of the people.
The worst option
The Egyptian Brotherhood leadership knows that the third option is the worst of all because it will unite them with their rivals, give the army more reason to pursue them and shut down their institutions. That would threaten their huge network which they built during the era of former president Hosni Mubarak, when there was a long period of truce.
What is certain is that the Egyptian public will reject the Brotherhood if they resort to violence.Abdulrahman al-Rashed
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 capable of mobilizing public opinion against them.
The Brotherhood considered Mursi as “legitimacy”, and they are requesting the return of legitimacy as a condition to their return to political participation.
They were prepared for a deal of early elections in which Mursi is out of power, but the proposal came too late. The Brotherhood was requested to make fewer concessions nine days before June 30. But after protesters gathered in their masses in a manner Egypt has never witnessed before, Mursi's resignation became a necessity.
Mursi could have presented a time plan that kept him in office for a few months prior to early elections. But the situation now is more complicated. There's a president, premier, transitional cabinet, an army protecting it and a huge audience supporting it. Therefore, Mursi's return has become impossible bar an unforeseen miracle.
The Brotherhood sought to gain the support of its allies from Islamic groups, but the Salafist al-Nour Party, considered to be the biggest in number and the most influential one after the Brotherhood, let them down and adopted a neutral stance. Al-Nour eventually finalized its decision yesterday and welcomed the new presidential arrangement. The Egyptian Brotherhood resorted to their Islamist colleagues in Tunisia, Turkey and Sudan. But these don't really have influence inside Egypt or in the Arab world.
At the same time, big countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan politically and economically supported the new arrangement whilst realizing that chaos in Egypt is a threat to the entire region. The behavior of the Brotherhood presidency during Mursi’s era worried the Gulf countries especially when he headed towards Iran and Russia at a time when the Middle East has been hit by violence in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. It's normal that the Gulf will support Egypt’s new transition without getting involved in the change itself. And everyone knows that it is impossible for anyone to forge 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 governance. Therefore, it is everyone's right, whether Egyptians or others, to jump to new conclusions and politically benefit from them.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on July 10, 2013.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.