Before answering this question, ask yourself: Has the Muslim Brotherhood succeeded in running the country? I ask this as someone who considers himself relatively involved in the country’s political circuit, who does not seek to judge the Muslim Brotherhood based on his own political convictions; however at the same time I do not pretend to speak on the matter from a purely objective standpoint. Rather I seek to judge the Muslim Brotherhood based on the standards they claim to have held themselves to, or, in other words, to the demands of the revolution. I would like to take a moment and pretend that I am an impartial political analyst, viewing events taking place in Egypt from somewhat of a bird’s eye view. With this in mind I will ask the question once again: Has the Muslim Brotherhood succeeded in running the country? From this removed vantage point, judging whether or not one has failed or succeeded in such regards could be measured by the extent to which one has successfully maintained peace and security throughout the country, or improved social mobility. The level of success in these fields could be measured by the popularity of the regime, or in the extent to which the Egyptian people as a whole take to expressing their happiness over the success of the revolution.
Regardless of one’s political persuasion, one cannot deny that by all accounts the Muslim Brotherhood has failed miserably. Judging on the one hand from the perspective of an international power with rooted interests in the region, one cannot say that they have succeeded. However the United States has put their money on the Muslim Brotherhood in the hopes that they will help protect Israel’s security in a way that other political organisations operating in the country could not. It is also true that the Muslim Brotherhood has taken steps to meet the demands of the International Monetary Fund and ensure the securing of the country’s pending $4.8bn loan, a feat Gamal Mubarak could not have achieved considering the decreasing popularity of the Mubarak regime.
The Brotherhood has also so far not taken any hostile positions regarding Washington’s stance towards Iran. However political stability in Egypt is an issue whose significance cannot be minimised, and rather serves as the bedrock upon which all else, in particular the success of those ambitions stated above, will follow. The Brotherhood’s inability to achieve such stability will inevitably bring it into confrontation with the country’s other political powers, specifically the “old” state and the country’s democracy movement. A fair assessment of any such confrontation must conclude that if one is to occur, the blame lies on the Muslim Brotherhood as opposed to the country’s other political forces, considering the Brotherhood’s alliance with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) during the early days of the revolution. Of course the Muslim Brotherhood during this time sought to deny the alliance, in an attempt to attract the cadres of Egypt’s democratic forces in their struggle against the SCAF. During this period a number of organisations opened their arms to the Muslim Brotherhood, especially during the presidential race between Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq, which allowed Morsi to build a strong coalition of partners to triumph over his opponent. However it wasn’t long after Morsi’s victory until these partners began to withdraw one after the other from their coalition with the Muslim Brotherhood, to the point that even the Brotherhood’s Islamist allies began to do so, after disagreements with a number of the former’s prominent personalities, in particular Sayf Abd al-Fatah. Finally, the alliance between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Al-Nour Party even began to erode, after the resignation of Ahmed Mekki.
The real reason behind the failure of the Muslim Brotherhood to enforce peace and security throughout Egypt stems from their inability to absorb and form alliances with the country’s competing political forces, whether that be members of the “old” state, or Egypt’s democracy movement. In my estimation, this is not the result of a lack of efficiency or misjudgement on their part, but rather the intended exclusionary nature of the organisation, which views an alliance with other political forces merely as part of a trick or white lie, one which will not in the long run bind them to having to live up to the promises they have made to such allies. Isolation, resorting to violence, and engaging in shadowy political manoeuvring are all tactics that the Brotherhood has employed in seeking to avoid substantive political reconciliation. This reality manifested itself last Friday, during which point it appeared that the country’s democracy movement had learned a lesson as they were forced to retreat from the square. Similar events occurred previously when the Brotherhood sought to break up a peaceful sit-in at Egypt’s presidential palace. Such examples of violence achieved nothing for the Brotherhood except deepen their lack of credibility and further chip away at the confidence of the country’s “old” state and democracy movements regarding the intentions of the organisation.
This confidence gap is one that has grown so large that it cannot be bridged within the next several years, and so it is on the impartial observer, who is concerned only with how domestic politics in Egypt can help serve their interests, to ask themselves: Who within Egypt can serve as an alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood? This question forces us to ask another a series of questions, which are: Who is the most powerful political force in Egypt today? And is the country’s political scene separated only along religious and civil lines? Or is there a three way struggle between the country’s religious forces, democracy movement and “old” state? If we go by the former logic, then the obvious alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood is the country’s civilian, democratic forces. However if we go by the three way split, which is closer to the reality on the ground than any other scenario, then it is necessary to determine whether the better alternative is the “old” state or the country’s democracy movement. It goes without saying however that the “old” state is broken in a modern world, and does not have the ability to garner enough popular support via the ballot box to serve as an alternative to the Brotherhood. This leads us to the country’s opposition. Although it is currently weak, it is the only force that still maintains within its ranks what is left of the momentum of the revolution, and the only one that continues to inspire young and old alike. In my estimation, only Egypt’s democracy movement can successfully administer state organisations and institutions, and settle its disputes with Egypt’s various other political forces in a way that won’t lead to a protracted civil war, figurative or otherwise.
The country’s “old” state seeks to solve these issues with a quick knock-out punch, orchestrated by the army and supported by the region’s various local powers, with of course a green light given by the United States. However such plans are unrealistic and unlikely to succeed. For Egypt’s democracy movement, all that is left to do is continue protesting, engage in the country’s electoral process, and force the rest of Egypt to recognise our unique qualifications to run and administer the country.