Sunday, November 27, 2011

Report from Egypt - The Muslim Brotherhood's double game

A very good piece by Boaz Bismuth:

“We don’t want to win the Egyptians' votes, we want to win their hearts,” Hassan el-Banah Muhadin, the director of the Muslim Brotherhood party headquarters in the Masar al-Qidma quarter of downtown Cairo, told me this week.

Muhadin is just 21 years old. He completed his studies at Cairo University, where he majored in Spanish. “We are a party with a lot of patience,” he told me during my visit to the organization’s offices earlier this week. “In today’s Egypt, you need to have patience.”

Nonetheless, it seems that the Muslim Brotherhood has – deliberately, it should be noted – lost its patience 10 days before parliamentary elections are due to be held. The elections will begin on Monday and continue until January, with three rounds of voting scheduled (Nov. 28, Dec. 14, and Jan. 5). The tacit cooperation of late between the brotherhood and the army, who were fierce rivals during the Mubarak era, has broken down in the second revolution that erupted last weekend.

The Egypt I visited looks bad. This is not what people had hoped for nine months ago when they ousted Hosni Mubarak.

...Today's Egypt is fractured and fissured. It is an Egypt where nearly everyone is pitted against everyone else. The secular youths, who are the heroes of the revolution, are furious with the army, that same army which they embraced just a few months ago. From their point of view, the army snatched their victory from them. Judging by the speech delivered Tuesday by Field Marshal (the army's highest rank) Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, this army utterly fails to understand Egypt’s citizens.

Alongside the army, there are secular parties who seem to have bitten off more than they can chew, and then there are of course the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafis, and the rest of “the forces of radical advancement” who were not the first to take to Tahrir Square during the initial days of the revolution, but who are today refusing to just stand on the sidelines. On the contrary. They are now taking initiative just like a Tour de France cyclist who knows exactly when to take advantage of his opponents’ fatigue and sprint past them.
Read the whole thing.