Since the January 2011 overthrow of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, political unrest and divisions, violent protests and crackdowns have beset the country. Overseas investments and tourism have dropped, and the country’s foreign currency reserves have plummeted.

The Muslim Brotherhood continues to claim that much of the opposition is dominated by Mubarak-era thugs and secularists trying to remove the Islamic identity of Egypt, while the opposition says the Brotherhood is taking over the government and attempting to forcefully Islamize Egyptian society.

“The opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule is now genuine and deep-rooted, and increasing day by day,” Tariq Alhomayed wrote on Sunday in the Saudi-backed Arabic daily Al- Sharq al-Awsat, reflecting the tensions between the Gulf states – with the exception of Qatar – and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Gulf states are resistant to change and fear revolutionary movements that could pose a risk to their rule.

“The Brotherhood’s problem, not only in Egypt but in all countries of the Arab Spring, is that they have offended everyone with their greed for power and their overwhelming desire to seize everything,” Alhomayed wrote.

This view was also voiced last week by Mohammad Salmawi in the liberal daily Al-Masri al-Youm.

“Let us look at the experience of other nations that preceded us in its practice,” Salmawi wrote.

“Did Nazi leader Adolf Hitler not come to power via the ballot box as well? This is why he could do all he wanted. It is true that history judges him today in the harshest of terms. But this is what is referred to as hindsight. In his days, he succeeded in free elections on whose propriety no one cast any doubt.”

Paul Rivlin, an economist and senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, says Egypt is a wreck and that insight can be drawn from the two consecutive revolutions in Russia.

The February Revolution of 1917 toppled the Russian monarchy and established a provisional government which was overthrown in October 1917 by the Bolshevik revolution led by Vladimir Lenin.

Rivlin however, points to differences with the present situation in Egypt. He says the country’s intelligentsia is made up of a significant young minority that does not support Morsi’s undemocratic actions, and that this group wields strength beyond its numbers.

But “the football riots and train crashes – all disasters of the old regime – continue because nothing has really changed,” he said. The “fundamental point” is that the regime is unable “to change the reality of people on the ground.” Although the people got a new president, the economic state continues to worsen, he said.

Rivlin is also pessimistic about the Muslim Brotherhood regime’s ability to make meaningful reforms.

“I think the answer in the minds of many is ‘no.’ The idea that the Brotherhood can change the reality is not realistic in the short term. The economy stopped growing and the population is growing by around 1 million people a year – that is 1 million people looking for work – every month that is 100,000 more people looking for a job.” And in the meantime there are “little explosions” going off all the time, he added.

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists are uniting against the protests and attempting to protect their newfound power.

In an interview on Sunday in Al-Sharq al-Awsat, Mohamed al-Zawahiri, brother of al-Qaida head Ayman al-Zawahiri and a Salafist leader in Egypt, said, “In our view, the political situation in Egypt is contrary to the laws of God, therefore we are calling for correct and legitimate means, which requires discipline, to be used to implement Islamic Shari’a law. From our view, the best way to achieve national reconciliation is via the full implementation of Islamic Shari’a law.” Zawahiri is essentially calling for Morsi to continue overpowering and outsmarting the opposition.

Liad Porat, who specializes in Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood and is a lecturer at Haifa University and a research associate at the Begin- Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, says that two years ago, when the revolution was in full swing, people thought “things would be great and there would be democracy in Egypt.” Now they see that it has been hijacked by the Brotherhood and “they knew exactly how to do it.”

“They have many years in the opposition and many connections in almost every village,” Porat says, adding that nevertheless they are clever and don’t always publicize their next move.

Morsi knows Mubarak is on trial for killing protesters, and so he is very careful to avoid following suit. But on the other hand, he needs to prevent things from getting out of control, added Porat.

“I think that Morsi will continue in power as his party has offices in every town with speakers and activists – they are strong,” Porat said, adding that something very dramatic would have to happen in order to force Morsi from power.

All of these Brotherhood leaders are “telling the nation that the situation will be difficult, but that it is the price that must be paid and that every citizen needs to show patriotism for Egypt until the situation improves.”

He says this language reflects their time in jail and torture under the Mubarak regime. “And the nation knows about their past and respects them for that.”

Rivlin echoed Porat’s remarks, adding: “I would not write the Muslim Brotherhood off at all, they will make deals – their task is to stay in power and they will stay in power. The army fears chaos and has large economic interests and wants to keep the peace with Israel and the economy from collapsing,” he said, noting that “it is very difficult to make effective policy in this environment.”

Regarding what this means for Israel, Porat sees the regime as focused first on internal issues as it is “not ready for external actions.”

In a recent paper for the BESA Center, Porat wrote that Morsi wants to cancel the peace treaty with Israel, but recognizes that the current reality does not allow for a war with Israel.

However, Porat said, the Brotherhood has no experience in foreign policy and security and therefore “the possibility of a security threat emanating from Egypt in the near future cannot be dismissed.”

The odds that Morsi will be able to turn the Egyptian economy around are not favorable, but with the help of Qatar and the West, Egypt should be able to plug enough holes to stay afloat and keep the regime in control, meaning that it is the West helping keep an anti-Western, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic organization in power.

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