Five reasons Brotherhood will continue to lose in Egypt

The Muslim Brotherhood’s recent history of miscalculation has cost the Egyptian revolution and limited the Brothers’ future options.

al-monitor Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood push a journalist (C) who they claim is pro-army, on the outskirts of Cairo, Nov. 4, 2013. Photo by REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh.

Topics covered

scaf, muslim brotherhood, morsi ouster, egyptian revolution, egypt protests, abdel fattah al-sisi

Nov 7, 2013

Almost three years have passed since Jan. 25, 2011, and the political scene in Egypt has gone through drastic changes. Some of the few constants, however, are the persistent miscalculations by the Muslim Brotherhood and its catastrophic choices that have consistently harmed the revolution and its goals.

One strategic miscalculation was their running for the presidency after winning a majority in parliament, putting all the responsibility on themselves — which they could not possibly handle — and cornering themselves in a very volatile situation of economic crisis and a revolutionary state.

They then did not miss any chances to make enemies or dismantle democratic infrastructure. Their first enemy, unfortunately, had once been an ally: the secular movement that had spearheaded the revolution.

Between aligning with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to pass constitutional amendments in March 2011; the presidential decree that placed then-President Mohammed Morsi and his decrees above the law, the constitution and even the judiciary; and appointing a public prosecutor that functioned more as a private one, the Muslim Brothers managed to unite almost every political organization in Egypt against them. Sending their "militias" to disperse a sit-in at the gates of the presidential palace and torture people — some of whom were previous comrades — was for many people the point of no return for reconciliation with the Brotherhood.

They then went on to attack the media, creating yet another fierce enemy which, angered by their threats, worked up a huge media campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood.

Not long after that, they attacked the judiciary, and tried to gain complete control over it by removing around 3,000 older judges and appointing another 3,000 younger ones of their own. Obviously, this did not succeed and — surprise — created yet another enemy.

Over the first six months of 2013, political activists, the media and the judiciary waged a campaign to ignite the masses against the Muslim Brotherhood, whose handling of the economy and government institutions could only be described as a fiasco. This led to massive turnout in the streets on June 30.

But in yet another miscalculation, Morsi did not call for a referendum or early presidential elections, but rather stubbornly continued on. The fall of the Muslim Brotherhood was imminent.

The Brothers continue today with their miscalculations, thinking they can get back into power or bring down the current government though demonstrations and supporting terrorist attacks against the military and police forces — or at least not condemning them — and by creating instability in the streets and the economy.

Since the beginning of the revolution, it has always taken two to defeat one. When the Muslim Brotherhood joined the secular movements, it brought down the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak. When the Muslim Brotherhood teamed up with SCAF, it defeated the secular powers' first road map in a referendum. Today it's the secular powers teaming up with SCAF against the Brotherhood. With unprecedented public support, this is will not change soon or easily.

There are five factors that indicate that this alliance is likely to continue unbroken.

First, there is the use of arms by some of the Brothers, which was caught on camera and aired on television. This opened the door for SCAF to crack down on the Brotherhood with the near complete support of the people and only timid criticism from political activists.

The second factor is the complete absence of trust in the Muslim Brotherhood. Secular movements and parties who had trusted them were betrayed every single time. With so few sympathizers, hardly anyone was willing to trust them again and stand with them against the current alliance.

The third factor — which comes as a surprise to me — is that the people in the street are only criticizing the current government and General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for "not being firm enough" with the Brothers, allowing them to demonstrate and create chaos to the detriment of the economy. The Muslim Brotherhood is becoming ever less popular. People blame the group for instability and worsening the economy, and activists and political parties blame their current practices for opening the door to the return of the police state.

The fourth factor is the clearly visible diminishing capacity of the Muslim Brotherhood to mobilize its supporters. The turnout on Morsi’s trial day was so poor that pro-Brotherhood television stations had to mute the audio from the demonstrations.

The final factor is a palpable change in the international position toward the current alliance, road map and interim period as a whole. Just a few days ago, the United Kingdom resumed 24 arms-export licenses that had been suspended in July following the Morsi's ousting.

The fact is, the only thing that would drastically change the current scene would be if SCAF were to abandon the agreed-upon road map, not hold free and fair elections on time, try to gravely curb freedoms or push forward a presidential candidate with a military background. So far, the council seems to be smart enough to avoid such mistakes.

The Muslim Brotherhood needs to get rid of the leadership that has brought it to its lowest popularity in 80 years. The group as it was known for so long will surely be dismantled, but it can still try to survive as a political party and not as a secret organization.

The younger generation must revise its doctrine, practices and strategic aims, and realize that its only means of survival is to drop the dream of hegemony. For once, it needs to let go of arrogance and all-or-nothing strategies, and stop its three-year-long series of miscalculated steps.

Continue reading this article by registering at no cost and get unlimited access to:
  • Al-Monitor Archives
  • The Week in Review
  • Exclusive Events
  • Invitation-only Briefings

Recommended Articles

UAE, Qatar officials meet in Kuwait amid Gulf thaw
Al-Monitor Staff | GCC Relations | Feb 22, 2021
Egypt's plan to remove Quran from school textbooks faces backlash
A correspondent in Egypt | Education | Feb 27, 2021
'Hostage-like arrests' in Egypt target families of US-based activists, rights groups say
Al-Monitor Staff | Human rights | Feb 20, 2021
Egypt helps Sudan confront Brotherhood ideology through missionaries
George Mikhail | Armed Militias and Extremist Groups | Feb 21, 2021
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, exiled opposition form united front
A correspondent in Egypt | | Feb 23, 2021

More from  Egypt

Egypt, Sudan call for Ethiopia to accept international mediation over Nile Dam
Mohamed Saied | Water Issues | Mar 5, 2021
Egypt moves ahead with purchase of Russian arms despite US warnings
A correspondent in Egypt | Russian influence | Mar 3, 2021
Sustainable agriculture technology can help Egypt’s water crisis
Rasha Mahmoud | Sinai | Mar 6, 2021
Egypt to introduce Judaism in schools
George Mikhail | | Mar 8, 2021