By: Alia Essam
It could have hardly been imagined by the Free Officers who led the military coup on July 23 1952 that an elected president belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood would be delivering a commemoration speech on the 60th Anniversary of their ascension to power. When President Morsy unexpectedly addressed the nation in a TV speech on the eve of 23 July 2012, he has surprised many. Seeing the former head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, hailing the same July Revolution whose commanding council had disbanded the Muslim Brotherhood Society in 1954, and inflicted pain and suffering to the group until 1966, marked by the execution of their prominent ideologue Sayyid Qutb, seemed to defy reality.
After an initial accord between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Free Officers before and immediately after the 1952 coup, the former’s attempt to assassinate President Nasser in 1954, coupled by the military revolutionists’ determination to eliminate all forms of political opposition, led the incarceration of the Muslim Brotherhood members in military prisons and in some cases to execution. This period has been termed in their literature as the ‘Mihna’. During the presidencies of Sadat and Mubarak, both devout sons of the military institution, although the grip of the state over the Islamist society loosened somewhat, some of the Muslim Brotherhood members and icons still stood before military courts.
Considering this background while analysing the semantics of the relationship between the Muslim Brothers and the military rule, it is fair to state that the changes brought by the January 25 Revolution of 2011 were dramatic. The success of the Muslim Brothers in seizing control of most of the professional syndicates and the majority of parliamentary seats, followed by their major breakthrough in having a brother as the first post-revolutionary president, have all set in motion a series of events which will bring about an entirely different stage in relations between the power brokers as they compete for power. The main feature of this new stage is that both sides have managed to reform their tactics, with the aim of avoiding direct confrontation.
While apparently, it might seem that the Muslim Brotherhood have succeeded in filling the political vacuum created by the ouster of the National Democratic Party, the military’s influence with regards to state affairs cannot be denied. The military generals knew that the age of mass arrests and martial law has gone with the January 25 Revolution, and at the same time the Brotherhood are well aware that the influence of the junta is deeply rooted into almost all of the official decision-making circles, especially the judiciary, and will lose their short-term gains if they cause the generals excessive displeasure.
While President Morsy did not attend the funeral of the deceased former head of Military Intelligence, General Omar Suleiman in person; he did not shy away from standing before the cameras and hailing the 60th anniversary of 23 July. Many analysts see that both actions are contradictory, and believe the latter might probably be a mere attempt to reconcile the tensions with the junta.