from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

The Muslim Brothers in Egypt

February 5, 2014

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Doing some research for a project,  I came across this interesting assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its role in politics there:

The record of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt following [Hassan al] Banna’s assassination shows that this essentially popular protest movement directed against misgovernment and oppression by the rulers sought total power for itself as the only efficacious remedy for social and political ills. After the military coup d’etat of 1952,the Brothers were in hopes that the new regime, which included officers who had sympathized with, or even belonged to, the movement, would move to institute the godly rule for which it hankered. The Brothers were sorely disappointed. The new rulers, led by Nasser, were willing neither to accept the Brothers’ ideology nor to allow them even a share of power.

The passage is from a monograph written in 1992 by the great historian Elie Kedourie for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and entitled "Democracy and Arab Political Culture." What is striking, of course, is how little has changed. To paraphrase, one could today write that "the record of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt following Hosni Mubarak’s removal shows that this essentially popular protest movement directed against misgovernment and oppression by the rulers sought total power for itself as the only efficacious remedy for social and political ills. After the military removed Mubarak in 2011, the Brothers were in hopes that the new regime, which included officers who had sympathized with, or even belonged to, the movement, would move to institute the godly rule for which it hankered. The Brothers were sorely disappointed. The new rulers, led by Sisi, were willing neither to accept the Brothers’ ideology nor to allow them even a share of power."

Of course there is one great difference: after 2011 and unlike in 1952, there was a brief interlude when the Brothers actually took power. But when the movement "sought total power for itself as the only efficacious remedy for social and political ills," as Kedourie had described their mindset, the army stepped in again and turned the tables. Now the army is "willing neither to accept the Brothers’ ideology nor to allow them even a share of power."

Plus ca change....

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