The new and the old ousted regimes in Egypt are exchanging fists in daily battles between the government and banned opposition. Celebrations were held to mark the victory of the 1973 October War and the Muslim Brotherhood responded by holding limited protests at Cairo University and by failed attempts to storm Tahrir Square. The president and the defense minister delivered political speeches. Brotherhood leaders delivered statements against those who have not yet entered Torrah Prison to broadcast old leaked audiotapes which show the military in a negative light. The government besieges the Brotherhood’s party by freezing its legal status and confiscating its property.
This is how the battle goes in Egypt. It does not appear there will be reconciliation although there is a possibility for reaching compromises that may bridge the gap through participating in elections. Such measure may later lead to releasing those detained as part of a wider reconciliation movement. But the gap widens with time as a result of the escalation which once again exposes the stupidity of the Brotherhood leaders. The most dangerous factor against the Brotherhood is the emergence of terrorism which has been linked to them. It’s dangerous because it will grant the Egyptian state the legitimacy to fight them and it also grants it the popular support it will need in the upcoming chapter of Egyptian politics.
Despite the Brotherhood’s complaints regarding the era of ousted President Hosni Mubarak because he legally and politically restrained the organization, the truth is Mubarak allowed the group to perform its media work and its financial activity which formed the organization’s backbone. During the thirty years of Mubarak’s rule, the Brotherhood managed to establish a huge network for the collection of funds. It also managed to establish a social network to spend its funds for political and charity purposes. The organization’s network extended to Gulf countries, Europe and the U.S. and the network was based on collecting funds from Egyptian expats.
If the Egyptian regime really decides to dry up the Brotherhood’s resources, the group will be harmed because its relationship with the poorer sections of society will end. The Brotherhood has a history of supporting these sections of society, financing their livelihood, medical and educational needs in response to the government’s lacking humanitarian services.
The Brotherhood failed to influence Arab public opinion to sympathize with themAbdulrahman al-Rashed
It’s clear that the current Egyptian regime decided to besiege the Brotherhood financially and to fiercely respond to it on the security and political levels. It’s also clear that the Brotherhood hasn’t yet woken up from the shock that struck them since the June 30 protests which easily toppled the group due to massive popular support for the opposition movement. Amidst the absence of the Brotherhood, the current government is quickly progressing to finalize the constitution, prepare for the elections, control the presidency for the next four years and pit the public opinion against terrorist operations in Sinai and other areas.
The Brotherhood failed to influence Arab and international public opinion to sympathize with them. All they have now is Qatar, in terms of Arab countries, whilst most western countries, which supported them at the beginning, have withdrawn their support. They attempted to create a permanent state of protest. This too decreased, either because they were besieged or because most of the Brotherhood leaders are either detained or on the run. Parties in support of them, like the Hamas Movement, were besieged. Their television channels were shut down and the Libyan borders, which were their second path of funding, were closed. Iran, the country that embraced them the most, is now embroiled in Syria. It no longer has any entry route into Egypt, which pretty much means communications with the Brotherhood have been cut off.
After all the restraint imposed upon them and the creation of political alternatives, it does not seem that it’s possible for the Brotherhood to be a real source of threat against the current Egyptian government. It is only a source of annoyance. The Brotherhood lost governance on July 3 and they are currently losing everything else.
This article was first published in al-Sharq al-Awsat on Oct. 9, 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.
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