Muslim Brotherhood demonstration, Amman, August 8, 2014. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The recent escalation of violence in Egypt and the security forces killing of Muslim Brotherhood leaders on Wednesday could facilitate the movement of some of the organization’s younger members to more radical jihadist groups.
According to recent reports, younger Brotherhood members are taking over from the group’s elders who are either in jail, killed, or in exile and pushing the group in a more radical direction.
The famed Islamist organization, which formed the ideological roots for more radical jihadist groups such as al-Qaida and Islamic State, is being outshined by its more radical kin.
In response to a raid by Egyptian security forces on Wednesday that killed nine men, including Muslim Brotherhood leaders, the organization called for the public to “rise in revolt to defend your homeland” in response to the killing in “cold blood.”
“While the youth who support the Islamist movement want to see a direct, even violent confrontation with Egypt’s army and police, the older generation believes that in order to survive, the movement needs to compromise, and keep a level head for the years to come,” wrote Maged Atef in an article in BuzzFeed this week.
“Over the last six months, newly elected Brotherhood spokesperson Mohammad Montasser started issuing strongly worded statements calling for revenge and a ‘revolution that would decapitate heads,’” explained Atef.
Prof. Hillel Frisch of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University told The Jerusalem Post that he sees two main reasons why the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to maintain its current position, and not radicalize in the jihadist direction.
First, because Erdogan’s Turkey provides very comfortable asylum and support for members of the Brotherhood and uses the group to delegitimize Egypt’s government, said Frisch.
And second, “because of the Brotherhood’s desire to maintain links with the United States.”
“Meanwhile, the youth can do the mischief they want in Sinai and elsewhere.
The situation will get worse before it gets better, but the Egyptian state will prevail,” he argued.
Zvi Mazel, who served as Israel’s sixth ambassador to Egypt and is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs today and a contributor to this newspaper, told the Post that the Brotherhood “is very bitter and overwhelmed by what has happened to them.”
After they had reached the top in a democratic way after so many years of struggle and received a majority in the parliament and won the presidency, “it all crumbled so fast because of their arrogance,” asserted Mazel.
“Now they are really in trouble. The organization is banned and most of their senior members are either in prison or in exile in Britain, Turkey, Qatar and other places,” he said.
Many Egyptians stopped supporting the group after seeing how poorly they performed while in power, which was the real reason they were ousted.
The Brotherhood, which is built on total obedience to the group’s elders, “takes about five years to prepare a new Muslim Brother and the most important thing is discipline and obedience and studying in the framework of the family the never ending guidance instructions of the movement.”
Now, “the young generation wants to show that they don’t give in and prefer joining the jihadists openly,” argued Mazel, adding that this could bring about “the total destruction of the movement.”
“We are witnessing the decline of the most important Muslim organization in modern times, an organization that aspired to create a caliphate, but lost it in the last minute and is now overtaken by the jihadists to whom they themselves gave birth.”