Analysis: Dying for the cause

Muslim Brotherhood supporters unlikely to remain quiet.

July 4, 2013 00:00
3 minute read.
Supporters of President Mohamed Morsi carry a banner with his picture.

muslim brotherhood - morsi banners 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

On the likelihood of an Islamist retaliation if Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is forced out of power, the Muslim Brotherhood’s motto says it all: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

The BBC quoted a senior official of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, Muhammad al-Beltagi, as stating on Facebook that “preventing this coup may call for martyrdom.”

Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum, told The Jerusalem Post that “the Islamists are not going down without a fight, probably a bloody one, replete with terrorist attacks.

“For almost a century the party has been dreaming about gaining the reins of power, and now that they have it,” he said, “I cannot foresee them leaving the way Mubarak did.”

Asked by the Post if he saw Morsi removing defense minister and commander of the Egyptian armed forces Abel-Fattah el-Sisi, Ibrahim responded that it would not be as easy as it had been with the former commander, Muhammad Hussein Tantawi. In any case, he said that various sources pointed out that Tantawi’s removal was unlikely to have happened without US support.

Prof. Yoram Meital, chairman of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, told the Post that the most important element of this new chapter in the Egyptian revolution is the power of the youth.

The youth were responsible for removing former president Mubarak from power in 2011 and they also brought Morsi to power in the presidential elections.

And now, they are playing the main role in the opposition protests against Morsi.

“It was not accidental that the army deadline only referred to one group, the youth,” said Meital.

The officers of the army supported the opposition from the very beginning of the protests, according to Meital. However, he does not see the army wishing to run the country as it did immediately after Mubarak left power. The army thus is “searching for a different model,” he said.

Meital predicts that the army will announce a road map for a transition, and Morsi will be left with two choices. First, he may have no choice but to resign; second, he could refuse to leave, which would lead to “a very severe escalation by the Islamists.”

The Muslim Brotherhood, however, is not as united as it may seem, said Meital, with some talking about a political solution and others – who have been more vocal – threatening that they will not allow the legitimacy of the president to be taken away.

Prof. Hillel Frisch of the Begin- Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University suggested to the Post that the US should play the role of broker. If there is no deal, he says, the army will take over and drive the Islamists from power, creating a strong backlash. It is not in Israel’s interest for the army to be weakened.

Frisch believes that while the officer class in Egypt is highly united, he is not sure whether the foot soldiers will follow them in suppressing the Islamists.

“Islamists could paralyze the country with demonstrations,” he said.

Asked if the US should in fact be supporting the opposition, Frisch responded that he does not think imposing the opposition into power would be a successful solution. Morsi was democratically elected and his supporters “will feel wronged and will put up a fight.”

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