Friday, August 16, 2013

Understanding the failure of the Muslim Brotherhood

maysa abu ghannam

Trust me, it's not about el-Sisi or Morsi. It's rather a matter of hegemony and riding a roughshod over political opponents -- a state endemic to societies at times of change and transition. It is merely a conflict of interests between one side's uncontrollable desire to remain in power and their opponents’ will to regain power.

Such is Egypt and that's the story of el-Sisi, Morsi, El-Baradei, Amr Moussa, the Young Revolutionaries and the Tamarod movement. Each of them strives to secure a hegemony to his own advantage and push the others out. I believe this is human nature. This triangle where each vertex represents a desire to rule is driven by internal, regional and international goals. It leads to murder by accusing one's opponents of treason and terrorism or defending the nation in the name of freedom and democracy.

What is going on in Egypt is an armed overthrow couched in revolutionary slogans. The Muslim Brotherhood has reaped the fruits of the January 25 uprising, powered by the country's youth. Their aim was to bring change, social justice, democracy, and most importantly, express their individuality while trying to establish their dream state. Still, our dreams are not always grounded in reality. Political Islam was able to win the elections, brandishing the banner of religion. Yet its chief movements, including Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and their various allies, do not realize that people today crave absolute freedom. There is no room for accusing others of heresy, or marginalizing and subjugating Christians or Jews, as was the case during the golden age of Islam.

The notion of the caliphate, espoused by these movements, has long disappeared from the family of nations. The Western countries, which are the world leaders in terms of culture, science and human rights, became successful only once they overthrew the rule of Christianity, as represented by the church. They granted value and status for the individual once religion became a private matter, between man and the Creator. Individual creativity and ingenuity assumed center stage, and the "Ego," the Supreme Self, began its ascension in European culture.

Such things as the notion of heresy, the killing of the elderly, ritual punishment, beatings and others were the foundations of the Islamic state. They are all inappropriate in today's society. It makes little sense that we should live today like people did a thousand years ago. If the Islamic State were to be established today, the Prophet would have surely taken into account the advent of modern technologies, perhaps even assuming chemical and atomic weapons. Or, better yet -- would have let women drive and legislate laws upholding personal freedoms.

Thus, the Muslim Brotherhood's failure in Egypt is due to its inability to reconcile reality with a commitment to the past, a miscalculation they are not likely to be forgiven for. Their scant political experience, lack of crisis-management experience, meddling with the ballots as though we were still living in the dark ages, turned the situation in Egypt at once untenable and easily manipulated.

That does not mean these are the only reasons for the coup. Other factors played a major role in the overthrow of Morsi and his administration. First and foremost, the lack of regional and international acceptance of the Brotherhood's ways. The notable failure of the Muslim Brotherhood was vis-a-vis the idea of freedom. This concept is a mainstay in Turkey's self congratulatory discourse on its political secularism, which has enabled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stay in his post for eight years. We have recently witnessed a crisis in Turkey, when the Turks put up tents and imitated the Tahrir Square protests, due to Erdogan's attempt to steer towards religious extremism.

These factors opened the door for the various movements within Egypt, including the Young Revolutionaries and the Tamarod movement, which openly oppose Morsi.

I am sure Morsi still believes his presidency was a good thing for his country, and continues to regard himself as the legitimate leader of the Egyptian people. However, history teaches us that a constitution and elections take a backseat when people fight for their right to determine their own destiny.

It also seems to me that what happened in Egypt is a natural thing. Certain elements simply feared being pushed away as they watched the delegitimization of their ideology. It lead them to clamp down on individual freedoms (which, some argue, are religious in origin). Still, we must appreciate how Arab societies include Muslims, both religious and secular, Christians, Communists and just regular people. A Muslim rule suppressing such diversity only leads to a fiasco, as was the case with Morsi.

The decision of el-Sisi to overthrow Morsi is not the first such step in the Egyptian military’s history. Gamal Abdel Nasser was among the leaders of the Free Officers movement in 1952. One of its consequences was ouster of King Farouk and the genesis of modernization in Egypt and the pan-Arabist ideology. Nasser actively encouraged revolutions in other Arab countries as well.

It is also widely known that Nasser acted against the Muslim Brotherhood and the Communists at the same time, including curbing their political activities in 1954 following a Brotherhood-perpetrated attempt on his life. His successor, Sadat, certainly adopted some of Nasser’s methods, when he got rid of a rebellious army chief. Neither was Hosni Mubarak a stranger to playing this risky game, as he took advantage of Sadat's assassination to instill himself as a dictatorial leader, only to be dethroned 40 years later.

Considering all that, Morsi and al-Sisi are truly not at the heart of the matter. Any keen observer of the political changes in Egypt should have no difficulty to discern the pattern of a military-backed politician seizing the rule in the aftermath of a full-blown coup.

Morsi's first and final mistake was coming to power through the proper electoral channels – which made him easily disposable. Let's hope the leaders in the Egyptian government understand the foundations of the state’s security apparatus. Whether we like it or not, it’s a government structure to be reckoned with, among other political considerations.

The army is the strongest factor in Egypt. Therefore, no elected president will stand a chance to run the country without a natural knack for dealing with the military.

A military state will be led by no other force, and a failure to accept it led to Morsi's downfall, putting an end to the Muslim Brotherhood's dream of coming into power.

Maysa Abu Ghannam is a Palestinian author and journalist from East Jerusalem.
مقال لي ترجم للانجليزية من قبل موقع اي 24 نبوز حول اسباب خسارة الاخوان في مصر

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