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Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: A Falling-Out Among Brothers?

Author: Raphaël Lefèvre
July 30, 2013

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"Islamist parties associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in the region reacted with condemnation and consternation to the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt. But, they were mostly careful to disassociate themselves from the Egyptian Brotherhood's uncompromising style of leadership (rushing in a new Islamist constitution and monopolizing power around Mohamed Morsi)."

Whether in the street or in parliament, Islamist parties and movements have relied on one key strength for their successes in the immediate post-Arab Spring period—their cohesion and unity. But this could be endangered in the wake of Mohamed Morsi's ouster from the Egyptian presidency. Brotherhood offshoots throughout the region have tried to distance themselves from the governing methods of the "mother" organization in order to weather the storm. Although there has been a tendency to fixate on the Brotherhood's governance style as the main culprit for its downfall, other fundamental issues threaten the movement's unity, its future, and that of its offshoots.

Predictably, Islamist parties associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in the region reacted with condemnation and consternation to the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt. But, they were mostly careful to disassociate themselves from the Egyptian Brotherhood's uncompromising style of leadership (rushing in a new Islamist constitution and monopolizing power around Mohamed Morsi). "We in Tunisia," stressed Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of Ennahda, "have offered compromises in terms of the constitution so that it will represent all Tunisians." He went on to add: "We live under a national unity government and there are three heads of authority each of which is affiliated with a large and well-known party and all take part in the rule." Party leaders also like to recall last February: when thousands marched in the streets of Tunis to protest against the government, it took only a few days for the Islamist party to replace the prime minister and relinquish the most sensitive ministries to consensual technocrats. Similarly, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood's spokesman bluntly asserted that the Egyptian Brotherhood had made "a mistake." "Egypt was a sinking boat and you can't come and change it the way you are doing; I believe that we have to work within a coalition." Likewise in Morocco, the leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD), Abdelilah Benkirane, stressed that "we [PJD] have nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood."

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