Despite the fact that jihadist armed groups released the seven Egyptian soldiers who were abducted in Sinai, the crisis has nonetheless exposed the depth of the rift that cleaved the Egyptian state during the first year of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule.
When the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took power, a security vacuum opened up in the Sinai peninsula and there was an upsurge in the influence and activity of terrorist armed groups to the extent that, last August, unknown takfiri insurgents murdered 16 Egyptian soldiers. The presence of the Muslim Brotherhood in the seat of power was — and still is — a part of the deep-seated crisis that is testing the strategic depth of Egyptian national security.
Egyptian national security requirements are being faced by the Muslim Brotherhood, whose wild desire is to bring to life their international project to revive the Islamic Caliphate, going back to a era during which the cultural and civilized Islamic model enjoyed a historic glow. However, the approach the Muslim Brotherhood espoused in dealing with this project undervalued the latter in the eyes of Egyptians for three main reasons.
The first reason concerns the absence of a logical prelude to the emergence of an Islamic international system in Egypt. The majority of international projects — be they religious or secular — have historically been based on two conditions. The first of these conditions is a large, international ideological reference grand enough to cross borders and convince the societies that are exporting or receiving this ideology to give up on an important part of their national heritage, which will be undermined by the international project. The second condition requires that this project be a genuine success in its homeland, resulting in an ideological, societal, economic and cultural surplus that pushes the project across borders. This is what happened both in the past with the Islamic Caliphate, and in contemporary history with the communist and liberal projects in the wake of World War II.
The international proposal of the Muslim Brotherhood lacks both conditions. It is likened to an ill man, given the fact that the ideological glow of this project was extinguished when the Muslim Brotherhood failed to bring about any radical change in the precarious internal political, economic and social situation. Therefore the dream of the Muslim Brotherhood to revive the project of the Islamic Caliphate has been transformed into a political blab that fails to convince most Egyptians.
The second reason is that the Muslim Brotherhood mixes up ideological ghettos with international systems. They have an immature perception, stored in their collective mind and reflected by their practices, in which they believe that dismantling the national Egyptian state and merging its pieces with that of the Palestinian state in the Gaza strip and the Sudanese state in the north — each representing an isolated ideological ghetto — will be enough to lay the foundation for an Islamic state led by the Muslim Brotherhood. They have not given any consideration to what the outcome will be if they meddle with Egypt’s northern and southern borders.
The third and last reason concerns the clash between the Muslim Brotherhood and the historical cornerstone of the traditional state of Egypt — the armed forces. Since the first incident at Rafah, the Muslim Brotherhood and their elected president have tried to reap political benefits in favor of their international project — an attempt that succeeded when Defense Minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi and Chief of Staff Sami Anan were removed. The Muslim Brotherhood’s president, however, washed his hands of his political responsibility in regards to referring the perpetrators to the court, or at least announcing their names to the Egyptian public.
In the same context, the president was not keen on destroying the tunnels linking the Sinai to the Gaza Strip. The new Minister of Defense Abdul Fatah al-Sisi proceeded in the demolition without any political cover from the part of the presidency, which wishes to support Hamas at the expense of the Egyptian national security. The clash between the army and the presidency was probably renewed during the last crisis, since the parties could not agree on whether to proceed with a clear and announced course of negotiations with the abductors or to conduct an extensive military operation against them and the rest of terrorist groups in the Sinai. Such an inability to come to an agreement results from cautious yet vigilant conflict between the presidency and the military, which the Muslim Brotherhood wishes to tame and merge into their political project, or else remove from the internal and international scene due to the fact that a strong, capable army will bring to a halt all the nonsense that is taking place on the eastern and southern borders, therefore undermining the international project of the Muslim Brotherhood.
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