The Political Future of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt: Possibilities of Safe Integration
Developments that followed the election of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi point out that reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has become a choice imposed by reality. This reconciliation, however, requires vigilance by both President el-Sisi’s regime and states supporting Egypt now due to the political consequences of such choice on the regime’s legitimacy.
There are two different positions regarding this choice: some prefer confrontation until MB is completely weak while realists believe that real stability requires reconciliation with MB due to the following factors: a key segment of MB youth is resorting to violence out of the state’s control, the disintegration of June 30th coalition, shift in tendencies of the ruling Saudi elite who adopt a reconciliatory stand towards MB and the continuation of international pressure on Egypt to reach reconciliation with the movement.
In this context, the paper analyzes policies adopted by the regime that tip the balance of power with MB in favor of the regime. At the same time, these policies allow the regime to dictate certain terms for this reconciliation, and choose who might represent the movement. The paper also analyzes the growing organizational weakness of MB, disintegration of the movement as a central organization, especially, after scores of MB leaders were arrested or fled the country.
The paper defines the following four motivations for the choice of reconciliation: the low ceiling of demands by MB, the high cost for the government if it chooses the Salafist alternative, MB continues to have the social and economic networks which still represent a latent element of power, as well as, regional and international pressure on Cairo to achieve reconciliation.
The paper also attempts to foresee possible scenarios for MB’s political future in Egypt which can be identified based on positive or negative developments that might happen on a number of variables and criteria: the relationship among authority institutions, coherence or contradiction among authority factions, MB’s ability to penetrate the civil society, regional and international pressure on the regime and the ability of the government and forces of democracy to develop the network of social and economic services in face of MB’s network, especially in poor rural areas.
Image Source: Reuters Pictures