Analysis: Egyptian regime, seeking victory, in no mood to negotiate with Brotherhood

Some Islamists have asked to open a dialogue with the military-backed Egyptian gov't, but army will likely continue with its crackdown on them.

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November 19, 2013 06:46
3 minute read.
Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Morsi rally around Rabaa Adawiya square where they are camping, in Cairo.

Muslim Brotherhood protest July 26, 2013 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Some Islamists have asked to open a dialogue with the military-backed Egyptian government, but the army will likely continue with its crackdown on them.

On Saturday, a coalition of Islamists offered to negotiate in order to end the protests and violence, on condition the government stop its security clampdown.

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It is not clear, however, if the top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is part of the alliance, the National Coalition to Support Legitimacy, would back such a move.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy poured cold water on reports of a possible deal. “Until now, there is no real, tangible movement for reconciliation,” he said, the Beirut-based Daily Star reported.

And the killing of an Interior Ministry officer on Sunday will probably lead to another round of tough security measures and Islamist retaliation.

Furthermore, the political culture and history of the country lend support to the idea that the army will have no mercy.

The last three rulers came from the military and harshly kept Islamists in check. Things will probably be no different this time.

Zvi Mazel, who served as Israel’s sixth ambassador to Egypt and is a contributor to the The Jerusalem Post, said in an interview on Monday night that this offer from a coalition of Islamists was not an official position stated by the Muslim Brotherhood organization.

The regime is not ready to make a deal with the Brotherhood now, and until the Brotherhood admits defeat and accepts the legitimacy of the regime no compromise is likely, he said.

“The Brotherhood have to accept that their time in power is finished,” Mazel said.

He added, “There will be no compromise. The army is stronger than the Brotherhood and it is being supported by the people.”

Asked if the Brotherhood still has widespread support and could do well if free elections were held, Mazel responded that he does not see the group getting more than 25 percent of the vote under such circumstances.

The army may try to let it back into the political system, but not in an organized way, forcing its supporters to run as independents.

Asked if the military-backed government could end up being the most pro- Israel in Egyptian history, Mazel said that “once the new regime is well established after the legislative and presidential elections, the new government will likely try to warm up relations with Israel in agriculture and by increasing economic cooperation.”

Prof. Yoram Meital, chairman of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy at Ben- Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, told the Post that the protests have resulted in a deepened split within the ranks of the Islamists in Egypt.

Within the Brotherhood, there are the hardliners, such as former president Mohamed Morsi and other top officials. On the other hand, some members of the movement have joined the Salafist al-Nour party, which thinks the continuation of the cycle of violence is not benefitting it and would like to see a compromise, Meital said.

The top echelon of the government such as Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, acting President Adly Mansour and acting Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, “are not interested in reconciliation and would like to use the time before ratifying the new constitution and the coming elections to put down the Brotherhood,” he said.

“The Egyptian press is demonizing the Brotherhood,” said Meital, much as president Gamal Abdel Nasser did when he took strong actions against the Muslim Brotherhood, imprisoning its leadership and executing some members, such as ideologue Sayyid Qutb in 1966.


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