Muslim Brotherhood: A Stranger to Democracy
The developments in Egypt during the past three years show that our knowledge of the complex society of Egypt, which is a combination of tradition, religion, modernism, secularism and militarism, must be deeper and more complete. The fact is that the revolution in Egypt had not reached maturity in its thought and this revolution was an unripe revolution from the perspective of social and political developments and was immediately and greatly distanced from its initial objectives. This revolution not only failed in directing the Egyptian society towards the achievement of democracy but also prepared the ground for the return of militarism with the objectives of fighting against religion. In this return, militarism and exerting limitations on the political activities of the nationalists and Islamists have strengthened and an uncertain future threatens the fate of the freedom-seekers.
The status of the Muslim Brotherhood today is much worse than its status before the Egyptian revolution. Previously, the Muslim Brotherhood enjoyed social and political legitimacy. The scope of the social and political activities of the Muslim Brotherhood was not limited and everyone was aware of its activities. Following the 2011 revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood reached power in its birthplace, Egypt, for the first time, but only for a short period of time. If the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood had not acted hastily in executing their power, today we would not have seen serious threats made against the Muslim Brotherhood in other Arab and Muslim states. The rise and fall of the power of the Muslim Brotherhood caused by its incompatibility with other movements and its political immaturity led to a social phenomenon which was against the Muslim Brotherhood. It was under the shadow of these mistakes that the Muslim Brotherhood’s officials were faced with numerous political problems.
The fact was and is that the ideological leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood do not believe in democratic values and the issue of democracy. The ideological problem of the Muslim Brotherhood is that the leaders of this group do not understand the fundamentals of democracy. They do not believe in the council interpretation of democracy and their failure in institutionalizing democracy during Mohammad Morsi’s one year in power was the most important reason behind the separation of a major part of the youth who had created the April 6th revolution. The Muslim Brotherhood should have updated its interpretation of democracy.
Today we see the trend of a return to the past. Unfortunately this return to the past has seriously distanced itself from the spirit of the Islamic Awakening and the Arab Spring which was hidden in the reality of the region’s developments. I predict that the Muslim Brotherhood will not be able to revive its political power within the next few years. This fact cannot be ignored that, at least, within the next year the al-Sisi government will enjoy political and economic aids by its regional allies like the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Today, the first priority of Egypt’s military government, which has created a democratic cover and legitimacy for itself by holding elections, is to provide security and improve people’s lives. The military government of Egypt is the offspring of the activities of the trilateral committee of the US, Israel and Egypt which has always been present as the most important center of decision-making in the domestic developments in Egypt. It can be predicted that the Sinai Desert will again become the camp of radical movements. In my opinion and with regard to the developments which have happened in Egypt, Israel’s situation will be different from the past and perhaps the challenge between Palestine and Israel will become more serious. On the other hand, the result of this election may bring back a wave of Jihadi activities and even part of the Muslim Brotherhood which is inclined toward Jihadi movements might reduce their civil activities and increase military resistance.
Experience has shown that Egypt, either when ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood or the military and the secular forces, has always acted against Iran’s interests. One day, Egypt and Turkey acted against Iran’s regional interests and, for example, chanted anti-Shiite slogans in Syria and another day Saudi Arabia replaced Turkey and threatened Iran’s regional interests. This experience shows that all of the political movements in Egypt pursue a similar policy against Tehran which is, in fact, the anti-Shiite line.
The fact is that Turkey is the main loser of these disputes. Following the 2011 developments, Turkey sought to bring the Muslim Brotherhood government to power in the entire region. But today we see that the Turks are disappointed by their failures in achieving this dream and have left their previous claims. Today, the Muslim Brotherhood is faced with numerous problems and challenges and foreign intelligence services have been able to greatly distance this movement from its main objective, which was the promotion of Arabic and Islamic unity.
We must not forget that the steps which were taken by Mohammad Morsi during his one-year presence in power were neither aimed at uniting the forces inside Egypt nor had any message for the world of Islam. Mohammad Morsi chanted the most radical slogans during that year in the hope of being able to align Saudi Arabia and the UAE with himself. The speech that he made during his short stay in Iran disappointed many of the scholars in Egypt and the Islamic world and many political and popular movements in this country reacted to his statements in Tehran. This issue shows that the Muslim Brotherhood suffered from internal differences and a rift since the beginning of its coming to power which ultimately led to the emergence of a crisis in its outside legitimacy.
On this basis, it cannot be said that the Muslim Brotherhood’s problems today are the result of the interference of the outside forces of Egypt. We must not forget that the US officials supported the government of Mohammad Morsi when it came to power. One cannot claim that the US supported the coup against the government of Mohammad Morsi but it can be said that the US accepted this political and military incident in Egypt. Following the coming to power of Morsi’s government, Saudi Arabia and the UAE made great efforts to express their support for the military forces in this country. The al-Saud regime soon realized that if the newly-established Egyptian political structure was not changed, its stability would become shaky. The most important element which is seen in the trend of domestic developments in Egypt is the mismanagement of the Muslim Brotherhood. Today’s Muslim Brotherhood suffers from a crisis in leadership and ideology and is not able to define its modern identity in the new Egypt. If the Muslim Brotherhood had been able to create a balance between religion and state in its first encounter with power, it would not have been faced with today’s crisis.
There is no doubt that the Egyptian scholars miscalculated the domestic developments in Egypt. Obeying the power of a government which has emerged through fear and coup and threatens the future of democracy in the region is to support an obvious oppression against the great nation of Egypt. Today different new movements which have been created in Egypt threaten the process of democracy in this country and the awakening movement in the region.
In the end, I would like to give some advice to our foreign policy officials. We all know that Egypt is very important for Iran just as Iran is very important for Egypt. What I mean by Egypt is the civil society, the universities and Egyptian scholars and religious brothers who look at Iran with love and hope. Of course, this does not mean that the military government and forces have a similar view of Iran.
Following the revolution, Iran was able to change the game in the region. I honestly say that Egypt enjoyed regional influence but part of this influence was overshadowed by the revolution in Iran. It is true that Egypt is important for all countries including Iran and vice versa, but we must use our past experiences to define new relations. Hasty actions will be unsuccessful and lead to a futile process. Iran must give time to all the developments which have been created in Egypt. One must first know the new Egypt and making hasty moves to establish relations with Egypt will not be suitable. The establishment of correct bilateral relations needs more knowledge and information.