Where will rival rallies lead Egypt?

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

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I did not wait to see who attracted the largest crowd in Cairo before writing this piece. Whether it was the Muslim Brotherhood or their opponents, I believe that we cannot measure citizens’ rights or the state’s duties by simply calculating the number of people on the streets. The demonstrations represent a means of expression and not mandates to rule.

The gathered masses will not last long because the crisis is more dangerous than what are regarded as competing demonstrations; protests are seen as a prelude to further unrest, especially since the actions and statements of the Muslim Brotherhood show that the leadership is becoming more radical.

The moderates in the Brotherhood have either broken ranks or are keeping mum. And after the radically polarized leadership within the Brotherhood wasted a golden opportunity to rule, the group is now in an escalation and threat mode, forgetting that it ruled Egypt for one year. Indeed, its actions have alienated other political forces in the country by demonstrating that it doesn’t believe in democracy which brought it to power and that it rejects political diversity.

Compromise and collaboration to end violence

The disparity in Egypt is political and can be expressed in a peaceful way. After the violence on the street, the head of the military, Field Marshall Abdel Fatah al-Sisi no longer needed the people’s mandate to act. This is because the first duty of the state is to guarantee security for citizens before providing them bread; the main objective of the interim government is to end violence whether it has political or criminal motives. Violence is all the same; acts like car bombing in Mansoura, killing soldiers in Sinai or shooting by demonstrators in Cairo, are all criminal acts. What is certain is that if this continues and killings and bombings increase, we will see popular anger giving the army additional power, and possibly delaying the promised political process for 10 more months.

While the Muslim Brotherhood continues to demonstrate in the next days, they should expand their vision and protect what they have already achieved by refusing to allow their name to be linked with violence.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

While the Muslim Brotherhood continue to demonstrate in the next days, they should expand their vision and protect what they have already achieved by refusing to allow their name to be linked with violence and incitement because they will be the losers, no matter what their political standings are.

We are concerned about Egypt, and it is not because of the Brotherhood or political struggle but because of the extremist militant forces. Since the eruption of the Egyptian Revolution, these armed groups who are fundamentalist by nature were set free in the country or escaped prisons and became more active and powerful. Those militant forces were responsible for the killings in Sinai before, during and after the rule of Mursi. They pose a bigger threat not just to Egypt but to the wider region. These militant forces with their ties with other fundamentalist groups from Libya, Algeria and Tunis to organizations in Iraq and the Fertile Crescent like in Syria threaten the whole of the Middle East.

Even if the army and the new Egyptian government are not able to convince the Egyptian people through rallying masses, and even if the Muslim Brotherhood continues to be defiant, future happenings will make Egyptian people more worried about security and less careful about political conflict.

The Muslim Brotherhood are currently living a moment of anger and intend to sabotage any political project that does not return them to power; they do not recognize their mistakes. It is true they lost three years of their remaining rule, but they have acquired assurances from other political parties, political forces and the army that they will be part of the political process. A new election will guarantee their survival because there is no political party that has sufficient popularity to guarantee its complete victory. This means that the Muslim Brotherhood have a great chance to come back through forging alliances with victorious parties and even if they do not achieve a major percentage, they will still have some weight in the parliament. In the worst-case scenario, they will be part of the political drama that changes with alliances. We must not forget that the Brotherhood was the army’s favorite team two years ago. The solution lies in the next elections, which might give them a glimmer of hope to stay in the political arena and prevent the country from falling in a cycle of violence.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on July 27, 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.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.