How Wide Is the Rift Between Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood?

Article Summary
After the first 100 days of Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi’s tenure, there's talk of a growing rift between him and the Muslim Brotherhood. Mostafa Amara speaks with senior Brotherhood figures to measure the level of dissatisfaction and the size of the schism.

Sources from the Muslim Brotherhood, who asked to remain anonymous, said that serious disputes have started to emerge between Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and a number of leaders in the Brotherhood, most notably Deputy Chairman Khairat al-Shater, who is described as the group’s strongest figure. 

Signs of dispute first appeared when Morsi took Hassan Malek, a businessman and member of the Brotherhood, on his trip to China in an attempt to marginalize Shater. Shater responded by saying that Morsi’s “100-day plan” [which was part of his electoral platform] had achieved nothing. This move publicly embarrassed Morsi, and portrayed him as being deceptive.

The sources added that Shater’s attempt to distort Morsi’s image represents the beginning of his own electoral campaign to run for president in the upcoming term.

The sources confirmed that the current disputes between Morsi and Brotherhood leaders pose a constant threat to his post as president, as the Brotherhood could abandon him.

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The sources said that differences between the two sides focus on a number of points:

While Morsi doesn’t want to reinstate the dissolved parliament, the Brotherhood is pressuring him to find legal solutions. The second point of disagreement revolves around the formation of a cabinet. While the Brotherhood wants the cabinet to be limited to members from the movement, Morsi is opposed to this so that he will not be accused of trying to Islamize the state. The third point is based on the selection of governors. While the Brotherhood wanted all governors to be members of the movement, Morsi chose only two governors from within the Brotherhood. 

When speaking about the potential for these disputes to escalate, a number of leaders from the Salafist Call movement confirmed that Morsi has deviated from the Brotherhood.

Khaled Saeed, spokesman of the Salafist Front, said that a number of signs confirm this point of view. These include Morsi’s decision to isolate Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi — which is not in line with the Brotherhood’s directives — and his visit to Tehran.

On the other hand, a number of political leaders refuted the idea that Morsi has abandoned the Brotherhood.

Saeed Kamel, head of the Democratic Front Party, said that Morsi cannot dissociate himself from the Brotherhood because they funded his electoral campaign. He added that Morsi does not have the political, economic and investment expertise that would enable him to abandon the group.

A number of the Brotherhood’s leaders challenged the idea that the Brotherhood was revolting against Morsi or trying to eliminate him.

The former leader of the Brotherhood, Tharwat al-Kherbawi, said that the Brotherhood cannot make an intellectual revolt against Morsi or eliminate him from the political scene, even though the general environment confirms that Morsi is trying to form his own circle away from the decision-making ciricles of the Brotherhood. He is trying to do so to appear as though he is the long-awaited “knight in shining armor” to the broader base of the Egyptian people, Kherbawi said.

The requirements of the presidency are completely different from those of the Brotherhood, and the Brotherhood’s agenda is far from being similar to that of the ruling authorities; the Brotherhood’s agenda has special ideological and political interests that are completely based on personal interests.

Kherbawi added that Morsi has taken many decisions through which he tried to prove that he is far removed from the dictates of the Brotherhood’s guidance bureau. Morsi intended to prove this by selecting a vice president, [Mahmoud] Mekki, from outside of the group, he added.    

Kherbawi noted that Morsi had provided the Brotherhood with a significant, but limited, margin of movement, particularly given that he needs their support for most of his decisions. More precisely, Morsi does not want to become independent from the Brotherhood and strives to take advantage of the group in the best way possible.

This prompted Shater to say that the “Renaissance Project” does not exist, since it requires a populace who can comprehend it. His statement was a big blow to the ruling establishment and the government in Egypt. It belittled Morsi’s achievements and embarrassed him before his people and the decision-making circles in Egypt.

In response, Morsi intentionally marginalized Shater and kept him away from important issues within the government. Morsi got closer to his economic partner Hassan Malek, in order to emphasize the disputes between him and Shater. He also gave [Vice Chairman of the Freedom And Justice Party] Essam el-Erian — who is not on good terms with Shater — a wide political margin.

[In other news] an Egyptian parliamentary committee has estimated the amount of money smuggled out of the country by leading members of former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime to number $134 billion.

The Shura Council’s Committee of Finance and Economics asked the second chamber of the Egyptian parliament to identify the countries that have delayed returning the country’s stolen money. The committee also asked that SCAF leaders — who were in charge during the transitional period following the departure of the former president on Feb. 11, 2011 — be held accountable, since smuggling operations took place during the transitional period.

Discussions held by the committee revealed that the amount of money smuggled by members of the former regime is estimated at about $134 billion, according to reports published in Egyptian newspapers and websites on Sunday [Sept. 23].

Abdul Hamid Arafa, a representative of the Freedom and Justice Party in the committee, said that the post-revolution transitional period, which lasted for a year and half, saw the largest fund smuggling operation. He added that the senior banking officials appointed by the former president’s son, such as the Central Bank governor and heads of public government banks, are still in their posts despite their role in facilitating the smuggling of the stolen funds.

Khaled Abdel Hamid, an economist, warned the committee against any delay in tracking the smuggled monies, saying that the slower the process the higher the chances of losing them.

Mohamed al-Fiqi, chairman of the Committee of Finance and Economics in the Shura Council, stressed the need to use media outlets to expose the countries that have been reluctant to help Egypt recover its stolen funds overseas. They must be exposed before their own people and the Egyptian people, according to Egyptian news agency MENA today [Sept. 24].

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Found in: muslim brotherhood, mohamed morsi, hosni mubarak, egyptian presidential election
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