As the crisis in Egypt evolves it is becoming murkier and more convoluted. While the face of the protesters being projected is that of liberal-loving Facebook and Twitter activists who only desire freedom from the oppressive reign of Mubarak, there are several other political forces at work behind the scenes.
Yesterday, I received an update from StratFor, indicating that the Muslim Brotherhood–the world’s oldest and largest Islamic political organization–was POSSIBLY starting to work in collusion with the militant organization Hamas to further their own political interests in the developing Egyptian crisis. Jason beat me to the punch on posting the report (Bastard!) so here is a link to his post on the issue.
There should absolutely be no doubt that MB is trying to position itself politically to fill the power vacuum that a Mubarak resignation would provide. Additionally, the Brotherhood has made itself into an effectual political force in Egypt’s parliament since 2005 and should be considered quite politically sophisticated.
In 2005 the Brotherhood won 88 seats in Egypt’s parliament–about 20% of the total seats–increasing their total numbers almost five fold. Ironically though, the MB is considered an illegal organization in Egypt so the members of parliament who are tied to the group actually run under the independent banner. While they cannot effectively block legislation due to the dominance of the National Democratic Party in parliament, they are attempting to openly maneuver the parliamentary process away from its reputation as a rubber stamp for Mubarak. Instead they are apparently trying to move towards a more reform-minded position, concentrating on strengthening its weak legislative capacity and further the empowering the Egyptian people. The Brotherhood has even gone as far as creating a think tank and policy research arm which they refer to as the “parliamentary kitchen. ” Its sole purpose as stated by Husayn Muhammad Ibrahim, vice chairman of the Botherhood’s bloc and a twice-elected MP, “…is to use civil society and consult experts to organize information we use in Parliament.”
While suspicions still remain high as to the true intentions of the Brotherhood, there is an interesting dichotomy which exists between Western perceptions of the Brotherhood and those of the Jihadists. In the West–the United States specifically–there is a great deal of mistrust towards the Brotherhood because of their history of assassinations, terrorism, and capitulation with anti-Israel forces. There is also the reputed fact that one of the major Middle Eastern political thorn in our sides, Hamas, grew directly out of the Brotherhood. Similarly, the Brotherhood’s supposed embrace of democracy and rejection of jihad has generated feelings of disgust towards the MB from modern-day jihadists.
Presently the MB has officially entered the fray of the protests after remaining relatively silent for days. They have also thrown their support behind the former IAEA director, Nobel laureate, political dissident, and Mubarak opposition figure, Mohamed Mustafa ElBaradei. Meanwhile, in lieu of the MB’s attempt at political posturing, whether to foster reforms within Egypt’s autocratic government or to gain political power, they are not lynch pin in the whole crisis. The deciding factor on how this plays out strictly lies within the hands of the Egyptian military.
The important thing to remember is that the Egyptian military, since the founding of the modern republic in 1952, has been the guarantor of regime stability. Over the past several decades, the military has allowed former military commanders to form civilian institutions to take the lead in matters of political governance but never has relinquished its rights to the state.
Now that the political structure of the state is crumbling, the army must directly shoulder the responsibility of security and contain the unrest on the streets. This will not be easy, especially given the historical animosity between the military and the police in Egypt. For now, the demonstrators view the military as an ally, and therefore (whether consciously or not) are facilitating a de facto military takeover of the state. [...]
The situation like many in the Middle East is not a monolithic one but extremely elastic. There are also many players behind the scenes, both inside Egypt and outside, that are going to weigh heavily on the political outcomes. One wrong move by any of the power brokers involved, and the hopes of a free and democratic Egypt will be dashed upon the rocks. Inevitably the only ones who will suffer will be Egypt’s people.