MB and Tawanti, a marriage of convenience

In another major Haaretz article, Egypt’s military council and Muslim Brotherhood hijacked the revolution, Avi Issacharoff explains

    In any event, there have been disagreements between the military council and the Brotherhood over the document of principles. Tantawi and his group, albeit late in the day, understood that the movement is likely to garner 40 percent or more of the seats in the two houses of parliament. Furthermore, to block possible Islamist legislation, the council tried, by means of the document of principles, to ensure the army’s status as an independent body. However, this unilateral move by the council, combined with the far-reaching interpretation the Brotherhood gave one of the clauses in the document (out of concern that the council was trying to entrench Egypt’s secular identity ) prompted the movement to give Tantawi an ultimatum: Revise the document or we’ll stage a major demonstration.

    That demonstration was held exactly a week ago. Tens of thousands participated, most of them supporters of the Brotherhood, plus members of more extreme Salafiyyah movements, as well as of the liberal secular movements that led the protests in Tahrir Square last January and February. Some of the demonstrators remained in the square the next day and the security forces did not hesitate to use force to disperse them.

    In the meantime, the Brotherhood decided it wanted out of the new round of anti-government protests: It had gotten its message across to the public and made a show of force, in advance of next Monday’s elections. Now the movement wanted to preserve its achievements. However, the fatalities on Saturday brought hundreds of thousands into the square, including Islamists, but mainly secular protesters, who to some extent just wanted to let off steam against the military council.

    Within a few days the depth of the common interests shared by the Muslim Brotherhood and the military council became apparent. On Tuesday, when the secular organizations announced that they would take part in the “demonstration of a million” that would call upon the council to resign, the Islamic movement stated it would not take part. Its representatives pushed for reconciliation with Tantawi and for an agreement, which was hatched that evening, for presidential elections to be held before the end of June 2012.

    The violent clashes resumed Wednesday in Tahrir Square, however. The Brotherhood issued a statement calling for a halt to the protests and thus became the “responsible adult” in Egypt, as compared with the Salaffiyah movements and a few secular groups that want to be rid of the Supreme Military Council.

    This is clearly a matter of shared interests, not a love affair: The Brotherhood needs Egypt to remain intact to influence events there, and the council of course wants to prevent the deterioration of law and order, and a takeover of the streets by gangs.

Meanwhile the MB wet with US officials

    The administration sought clarifications from the Muslim Brotherhood concerning future relations with Israel, and minority and women’s rights. It’s not clear whether the answers received were sincere or intended only to pacify Washington. Katulis – a member of the Working Group on Egypt, with which the White House consults – told Haaretz that his impression is that the Muslim Brotherhood’s top priority is not Israel, but Egypt’s internal affairs.

    “It’s hard to predict how they [the Brotherhood] will behave if they do significantly well in the elections, but my assessment is that they will not take action against the peace treaty with Israel,” Katulis says. “That is not because of any love they have for Israel, but because they are aware that an infringement of the peace treaty at their initiative is liable to boomerang on them in the final analysis.”

How’s that for a positive spin.

November 27, 2011 | Comments »

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