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