Friday, 19 July 2013

What Complicates Reconciling With The Brotherhood In Egypt

Supporters Of Morsi In Rab'aa Square

This is not an exhaustive piece. Rather, this is mainly an appendix to a piece I've just published in Al-Monitor, debating the options the Brotherhood could pursue now, and the situation they're in.

There is a lot of talk about whether or not reconciliation in Egypt can actually take place, and the talk understandably focuses largely on whether or not the current administration (with the military at its heart, or head, depending on how you see it) would reconcile with the Brotherhood if there is such a mood on the other side as well. Critics argue that while the administration might be sounding many correct gestures and claims (including regularly reassuring inclusion and reconciliation while also allegedly offering cabinet positions to Brotherhood members), there are arrests and seemingly a legal witch hunt against the Brotherhood and allied Islamists. The critics further argue that if the current leadership in Egypt somehow decided behind the scenes that enough was enough, things would just cool down, the witch hunt would stop, the media in Egypt would tone down its obviously biased (read: vengeful) tone. But that perhaps misses at least some the complexity of the situation.

What is important to note is that each of the current anti-Morsi groups seemingly has its own vendetta. The judiciary has had a long fight against Morsi and the Brotherhood. The prosecutorial corps in particular has been up in arms against Morsi's handpicked prosecutor-general and what his reign entailed. The private media has been furious (other than due to ideological enmity) from intimidations by Morsi and the Brotherhood against them, including the onslaught of "Insulting The President" and "Contempt Of Religion" charges as well as the regular siege of the media production city by Islamists, among others. The police is not exactly a friendly entity to the Brotherhood and Morsi either. The liberal and leftist parties, which mostly backed Morsi in his run against the secular opponent Ahmed Shafiq who was seen as close to the former regime, now speak of Morsi as they speak of Mubarak, if not worse; and of the MB as they speak of the NDP, if not worse. There are even those in the state bureaucracy who resented what they saw as the "Brotherhoodisation" of the state, namely the installation of Brotherhood members in key positions, perhaps regardless of qualification. Then there is the military of course. But perhaps most importantly, the degree of popular outrage against the Brotherhood is apparently such that, if the reports some share are accurate, the grassroots anger and exclusionary sentiment towards the Brotherhood by even many normal people has become quite substantial (yesterday, a non-Cairene was claiming to me that Brotherhood-owned shops in his town were being attacked).

My point here is that there are many who have their own separate scores to settle. So, even if the country's "leadership" did decide to reconcile, it's not necessarily a given the others would simply play along. Reconciliation in Egypt would be a long, difficult and multi-layered process.

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