The recent events in Sinai are the latest evidence of Egypt’s rapid
transformation under the ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood.
only the most visible manifestation of the Brotherhood’s project in the largest
The details of the unfolding situation in Egypt, in turn, may
offer clues as to the direction of events in other parts of the region, as Sunni
Islamism moves forward to power and influence in a variety of
Events in Egypt have moved forward with astonishing rapidity.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s swift victories in parliamentary and presidential
elections left the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces as the final barrier to
the Brotherhood’s full spectrum domination of Egypt.
Morsy’s bold move this month to annul the constitutional declaration granting
SCAF its special powers, and his sacking of a number of senior generals, have
removed this obstacle.
This achieved, the Brotherhood is now moving
forward to consolidate power. In the committee tasked with drafting the new
Egyptian constitution, Brotherhood members and other Islamists constitute a
majority. They are pushing to ensure that Islamic Shari’a law forms the basis
for Egypt’s governance.
Senior Brotherhood member Essam al-Arian told
newspaper this week that it is not right for a supporter of
democracy to object to the right of the majority to implement Islamic Shari’a
law.” President Morsy has himself said that Shari’a should govern all aspects of
Egypt’s current constitution sees Shari’a as the “principal source
Islamists within the committee are fighting to ensure
that Article Two of the new constitution strengthens this provision.
Representatives associated with the Salafi al-Nour Party initially insisted that
Shari’a be named as the “basis” rather than the “principal source” of
legislation. A compromise has been reached, according to which the ancient Al-
Azhar University will become the final arbiter on matters related to Shari’a.
This in itself represents an advance for the Islamists. It indicates that
Shari’a and its correct application are set to take a central place in the new
Egyptian system of governance now in the process of formation.
advance of the Muslim Brothers must be seen in context. This movement has been
in existence since 1928. Its strategic goal is very clear. Khairat
al-Shater, one of the most powerful figures in the Egyptian Brotherhood, in a
speech in Alexandria on April 21, 2011, detailed the process by which the
organization hopes to achieve, or revive, the “Global State of Islam” as he
Shater depicted the process in the following terms: “As Ikhwan
[Brothers], we have spent a long time working on the individual, walking along this line, working on the
household, working on society. So we are now developing the Muslim individual
and God-willing we will continue. We are developing the Muslim household and
God-willing we will continue. We are developing the Muslim society and
God-willing we will continue. We are preparing for the stage of Islamic
government after this because it is what follows the stage of
Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad Badie characterized
the Brotherhood’s path in similar terms. He outlined the Brotherhood’s strategy
as “reforming the individual, followed by building the family, the society, the
government and then a rightly guided caliphate and finally mastership of the
It has become received wisdom in policy- making circles in the
West that the strategic goal of the Muslim Brotherhood (here described as the
“Global State of Islam” and “mastership of the world”) is of no concern. This is
because it is seen as merely a nebulous, endlessly deferred utopian
It is not clear on what this assumption is based. The
Brotherhood has certainly been characterized by patience and flexibility in the
84 years of its existence. But this does not mean that it lacks seriousness or a
sense of urgency regarding its objectives.
Where it has held power, as in
the Hamas enclave in the Gaza Strip, it has proven to be a skilled, ruthless and
tenacious wielder of authority, one that brooks no rivals.
unfolding situation in Egypt lends further credence to the view of the Muslim
Brotherhood as a sophisticated, patient, deeply radical organization with a
clear blueprint for the transformation of society.
The events of 2011-12
in the Middle East constitute the most exciting time for the Muslim Brotherhood
since its inception. The group is moving toward power in Egypt. In
Tunisia, a party close to the movement is already in government. The
Brotherhood, via its Hamas franchise, would probably have captured the
leadership of the Palestinians by now, were its Fatah rivals not protected by
the IDF in the West Bank. In Jordan, they form the main opposition group
(although the Arab monarchies have proved a far less brittle target than the
In Aleppo, the Tawhid Brigade, funded by the
Brotherhood, is playing the key role in this key sector of the Syrian civil
The Brotherhood enjoys the support of AKP-led Turkey, which has
given it a leading role in the Syrian opposition structures it sponsors. Qatar
and its communications arm, the Al Jazeera Media Network, are also to be
numbered among its firmest supporters.
Revolutionary groups do not
usually compromise on their strategic goals during the period of their ascent.
The goal of the Muslim Brotherhood, as its senior officials openly state, is the
creation of states based on Shari’a law, which will then unite and expand. This
may in the end prove an entirely delusional goal. But the Brotherhood will
nevertheless do its best to push it forward at this, the moment of its
As one Iranian dissident, a firm opponent of the Brotherhood
recently put it: when you build a house, you first draw up the plans, consult,
build a blueprint, recruit the labor force, perform groundwork and build
foundations. The actual construction of the house is one of the final
The Muslim Brotherhood has laid the foundations. It is now set to
embark on a push toward political power and societal transformation in a variety
of contexts across the region.
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