On July 6, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri condemned the ouster of Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi. Has the Brotherhood responded to this and carried out a jihadist transformation?
The June 30 revolution restored the goals of the January 25 revolution but unlike 2011 it did not call for the end of a dictator’s regime but rather for the exit of a president who didn’t respect the people. Prior to his election, Mohamed Mursi claimed he would “save the revolution.” During his short term, however, he divided Egypt. Mursi’s only vision was “brotherizing” the state. He did not commit to democracy and its principles which brought him to power in the first place.
The army’s role:
The army protected the popular will during the January 25 revolution and handed Mursi power on June 30, 2012 after he was elected. As the political crisis deepened, the army intervened out of necessity, and not to carry out a coup as Mursi’s supporters insist.
The Armed Forces’ Supreme Council offered Mursi three options, some of which included his continuation as president, and none of which he accepted. The third and final opportunity was on July 1 when the army issued a 48-hour ultimatum to all Egyptian political forces to reach a resolution or face a military “road map for the future” that “will not exclude anyone.” Mursi did not respond to this call and so his era came to an end.
On July 4, Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, along with Ahmed al-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar institution, Pope Tawadros, head of the Coptic Church, and representatives of the Tamarod campaign, announced a plan for the aftermath of the events of June 30. Parties affiliated with the Islamic movement, like the Salafi al-Nour party, were also present. This shows that there is a desire for consensus, and that the regime does not seek to exclude anyone from this process. However, the Freedom and Justice party, the Brotherhood’s political wing, refused the calls for dialogue.
Brotherhood caught between calls for democracy and authoritarianism
As expected, Mursi’s supporters held a sit-in at Rabia al-Aadawiya Square. Salafi jihadistst groups in Sinai active since the January 25 revolution staunchly supported Mursi, revealing a secret link between these groups and the Brotherhood and its leader. The Brotherhood’s stance was similar to that of the terrorist groups allied with it. This affiliation became apparent when unarmed protesters were attacked during Il-Itihadiya events last December. The Brotherhood’s spiritual leader used terms like “our deceased and their deceased.” Rhetoric of elimination and apostasy followed.
The Brotherhood’s transformations on the levels of both rhetoric and practice, allying with jihadists and using the language of power and jihad to restore authority to the detained, ousted president proved how incredible the Brotherhood’s political orientation is. It proves that the Brotherhood lacks any political vision or understanding of civil society.
Its recent jihadist transformation, revealed via videos and footage broadcast by Egyptian and Arab media outlets showed that the Brotherhood, which played the role of the victim for so long, actually practices terrorism as had been previously suspected.
The Brotherhood is counting on inaccurate media representations and accounts to mobilize its supporters. And it is going through the same stage which violent jihadist groups, like al-Qaeda and its branches, previously experienced. The Brotherhood is turning towards jihad, violence and intimidation of its opponents.
Confronting this new transformation towards terrorism is the difficult task left for the international community and Arab and Muslim concerned parties.
Links between the Brotherhood and the terrorist groups in Sinai (terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda and Salafi jihadist groups in Gaza) were long suspected. Later, these suspicions proved correct after Muslim Brotherhood official Mohamed Beltaji said that violence in Sinai would end only on condition of Mursi’s return to power. The operations of these groups that killed army soldiers and officers in August 2012 doubled their activity during Mursi’s era.
Playing the victim
The Brotherhood has played the role of the victim for a long time. But this will no longer work for them after the new union between them and the Salafi jihadists.
The Brotherhood’s alliance with violent groups exposes their lack of historical awareness. They have forgotten the pasts of other jihadist groups. The Egyptian Islamic Jihad halted its operations in Egypt in 1995 under the excuse of incapability. Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, Egypt’s most violent groups during the 90’s and which killed president Anwar al-Sadat in 1981, gave up its struggles. It seems that Al-Sqour (Falcons) wing is heading towards jihadism, along with an alliance with the Brotherhood and its new transformation into a jihadist group. This is despite the fact that it presented a series of at least 25 books in which it provided its reviews and correction of these concepts.
History proves that violent jihadism will not succeed, and ultimately we await the failure of those who adopt it.
To read the full study in Arabic, click here.