Why Did Egypt’s Brotherhood Break Off Ties with Syria?

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s decision to break off ties with Syria draws criticism.

al-monitor Syrians picking up their passports line up in front of the Syrian Embassy in Cairo, June 16, 2013, after Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said he had cut all diplomatic ties with Damascus and called for a no-fly zone over Syria. Photo by REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih.

Topics covered

syrian conflict, syrian opposition, syrian crisis, syrian, sectarianism, muslim brotherhood, egyptian politics, egyptian muslim brotherhood, egypt

Jun 21, 2013

Nearly 40 years after Egypt decided to abandon its pan-Arab nationalist policy and adhere to US policy, it is no surprise to see the Egyptian government uninterested in Arab affairs with the ascent of the Muslim Brotherhood to power.

To those who don’t know yet, the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t believe in Arab nationalism nor Egyptian nationalism. When Britain was a colonial power in the Arab region, the Muslim Brotherhood adopted British policy. Now that the US is dominating the region, the Muslim Brotherhood has adopted US policy.

The events in the region have revealed that only one year after Mohammed Morsi became president, the Egyptian people have started resisting this policy. There may soon be a serious confrontation between the Egyptian people and the Muslim Brotherhood. Nobody knows where that confrontation will lead. Even though all evidence suggests that the events in Egypt are moving in that direction, the Muslim Brotherhood has decided to deepen its alliance with the US. That is one of the most dangerous choices the Muslim Brotherhood has ever made.

Could it be that the Brotherhood doesn’t realize the seriousness of the Egyptian people’s position after they had experienced the way the Brotherhood governs? The answer is yes. This is the only explanation for the Brotherhood’s dangerous decision. The Egyptian people have decided to confront the Muslim Brotherhood, even remove Morsi from power, because the Brotherhood has decided to take Egypt out of the Arab-Israeli conflict and move closer to the United States.

That is the only reason why Morsi decided to break Egypt’s relationship with Syria and consider sending to Syria troops who will side with the opposition in support of US objectives, which entail destroying Syria, partitioning it, and ending Syria’s role in the Arab region.

Morsi didn’t care that his decisions were in line with Washington’s decision to provide the Syrian opposition with weapons. Perhaps Morsi was compelled to make those decisions under US pressure and was afraid that the US might pull its support for the Muslim Brotherhood and see what a new Egyptian revolution might bring.

As everybody knows, Morsi doesn’t make his own decisions. He receive orders from the leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood organization. Those leaders didn’t consider the Egyptians’ opinion before they took their decision on Syria. Those leaders are also unaware of how determined the Egyptians are in removing the Muslim Brotherhood from power.

The Muslim Brotherhood didn’t expect Morsi’s decisions on Syria to outrage the Egyptian masses, who considered those decisions a declaration of war on Syria. The question they raised was: Why declare war on Syria instead of Israel? That was the Egyptian reaction from everyday citizens, intellectuals, political analysts and journalists. Worse, the US didn’t bother to reassure the Muslim Brotherhood as it does in similar situations. The US was busy congratulating the new Iranian president for his victory and completely ignored the Egyptian declaration of war on Syria.

In former President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s era, it was considered disastrous for Egypt and Syria to move in opposite directions. This is what is happening now. Why did that happen? Perhaps the answer to that question is that June 30 is fast approaching and the Muslim Brotherhood is afraid of the coming popular revolt. Some expect violent clashes between the Egyptian masses and Muslim Brotherhood loyalists.

Some cannot imagine those clashes ending except by the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power. The Egyptian masses will not back down in front of the Muslim Brotherhood’s supporters, even if the latter were armed. There is even the possibility that if the Muslim Brotherhood confronts the Egyptian masses with arms, then the Brotherhood will find the Egyptian army standing in their way.

In recent weeks and months, the Egyptian masses have tried to find out what the Egyptian army will do if there’s a confrontation between the people and the Brotherhood. Most Egyptians are convinced that the army will stand with the Egyptian people. The Egyptian army, which often makes statements that are open to interpretation, has recently been making statements that clearly suggest that the army stands on the Egyptian people’s side.

So there is no possibility that the Egyptian army will go to Syria to fight the Syrian regime. But aren’t the Muslim Brotherhood and its leaders aware of that? The answer is that the Muslim Brotherhood has ideological interests that go beyond Egypt or any nation’s borders. The Egyptian people interpreted Morsi’s decision to send troops and volunteers to Syria as a war declaration intended to gather Brotherhood members in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Jordan and beyond the Arab world such as Chechnya, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and even Brotherhood members in Western Europe.

Some Arabs and Muslims may be tempted to believe that the United States wants to exploit the Muslim Brotherhood’s role and get the organization mired in wars not only in Syria, but also in Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, the countries of the Arab Maghreb, and in Muslim countries in Africa. In that case, American objectives would conflict with European objectives. But considering America’s recent decisions on Syria and Egypt, it is clear that the US doesn’t mind that. Perhaps this is why Britain, Italy, Austria and other European countries didn’t automatically support the US decision to start arming the Syrian rebels. Washington thinks that this disagreement with Europe can be resolved.

In any event, the decisions being made by the various parties in this crisis suggest that those parties have not carefully thought through the details. This applies to the US, Europe, and regional parties, which seem hesitant and confused. Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf oil states are playing a specific roles in the current conflict but they don’t seem to have carefully considered the consequences. Those countries are relying on US calculations, but the US only cares about its own interests.

Morsi’s decision on Syria is a poorly thought-out decision whose effects are unknown.

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More from  Samir Karam

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