Muslim Brothers learning to be careful what they wish for

The Ikhwan, or Muslim Brotherhood, has endured decades of political repression in Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, and finally has achieved its goal of political power (with a big assist from Barack Obama who turned his back on US ally Hosni Mubarak). It turns out that running Egypt isn't quite as easy as the former dictator made it look. In fact, it is really easy to alienate the populace and perhaps discredit the movement.

Writing in Real Clear World, Zvi Mazel explains how the Brothers have "bitterly disappointed the people who had put their faith in them."

Nothing has been done to improve their lot. Upon taking office Morsi had promised - and failed - to take care of five burning issues within a hundred days: growing insecurity, monster traffic jams in the capital, lack of fuel and cooking gas, lack of subsidized bread, and the mounting piles of refuse in the streets.

The president's high-handed attempt to take over all legislative powers and grant himself full immunity provoked such an outcry that he had to back down. He sacked the prosecutor-general and appointed a new one - only to have his decision overthrown by the Cairo Court of Cassation last week, throwing the judicial system into disarray.

It seems that such unwise and unpopular moves were taken without prior consultations with his advisers and that in fact it was the Supreme Guidance Bureau of the Brotherhood which had urged Morsi to do so. In other words, the president is acting as a proxy for the movement.

Dissatisfaction is now evident everywhere. Elections held in students' union throughout the country saw Brotherhood candidates defeated by independent candidates. Worse, elections to the key Journalists' Syndicate saw the victory of Diaa Rashwan, head of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic studies and bitter opponent of the Brotherhood.

It could get much worse for Egyptians under the Brotherhood's tender governance. The country has virtually no foreign reserves with which to pay for necessary food imports. Poor Egyptians depend on government subsidized bread for survival, and when the money runs out, they will start to starve. Tourism, one of the biggest sources of foreign exchange, is drying up. The military has the guns, and they have been dependent on American aid for decades.

Even worse: the people are turning against them:

Dissatisfaction is now evident everywhere. Elections held in students' union throughout the country saw Brotherhood candidates defeated by independent candidates. Worse, elections to the key Journalists' Syndicate saw the victory of Diaa Rashwan, head of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic studies and bitter opponent of the Brotherhood.

In other words the movement is losing both the youth and the elites.

Of course, in Iran, the people long ago turned against their Muslim fundamentalist rulers, but the regime endures (in no small part thanks to President Obama ignoring the Green Revolution during his first term). But Iran has oil, while Egypt has tourism. A starving populace is not likely to put up with promises of religious comfort in the afterlife if they are starving in the here and now.

The stakes in Egypt are enormous. Because of the influence of Radio Cairo, the Egyptian film industry and television, the country has great visibility in the Arab world. If the MB goes down in the flames of incompetence, lessons will be drawn elsewhere.


The Ikhwan, or Muslim Brotherhood, has endured decades of political repression in Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, and finally has achieved its goal of political power (with a big assist from Barack Obama who turned his back on US ally Hosni Mubarak). It turns out that running Egypt isn't quite as easy as the former dictator made it look. In fact, it is really easy to alienate the populace and perhaps discredit the movement.

Writing in Real Clear World, Zvi Mazel explains how the Brothers have "bitterly disappointed the people who had put their faith in them."

Nothing has been done to improve their lot. Upon taking office Morsi had promised - and failed - to take care of five burning issues within a hundred days: growing insecurity, monster traffic jams in the capital, lack of fuel and cooking gas, lack of subsidized bread, and the mounting piles of refuse in the streets.

The president's high-handed attempt to take over all legislative powers and grant himself full immunity provoked such an outcry that he had to back down. He sacked the prosecutor-general and appointed a new one - only to have his decision overthrown by the Cairo Court of Cassation last week, throwing the judicial system into disarray.

It seems that such unwise and unpopular moves were taken without prior consultations with his advisers and that in fact it was the Supreme Guidance Bureau of the Brotherhood which had urged Morsi to do so. In other words, the president is acting as a proxy for the movement.

Dissatisfaction is now evident everywhere. Elections held in students' union throughout the country saw Brotherhood candidates defeated by independent candidates. Worse, elections to the key Journalists' Syndicate saw the victory of Diaa Rashwan, head of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic studies and bitter opponent of the Brotherhood.

It could get much worse for Egyptians under the Brotherhood's tender governance. The country has virtually no foreign reserves with which to pay for necessary food imports. Poor Egyptians depend on government subsidized bread for survival, and when the money runs out, they will start to starve. Tourism, one of the biggest sources of foreign exchange, is drying up. The military has the guns, and they have been dependent on American aid for decades.

Even worse: the people are turning against them:

Dissatisfaction is now evident everywhere. Elections held in students' union throughout the country saw Brotherhood candidates defeated by independent candidates. Worse, elections to the key Journalists' Syndicate saw the victory of Diaa Rashwan, head of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic studies and bitter opponent of the Brotherhood.

In other words the movement is losing both the youth and the elites.

Of course, in Iran, the people long ago turned against their Muslim fundamentalist rulers, but the regime endures (in no small part thanks to President Obama ignoring the Green Revolution during his first term). But Iran has oil, while Egypt has tourism. A starving populace is not likely to put up with promises of religious comfort in the afterlife if they are starving in the here and now.

The stakes in Egypt are enormous. Because of the influence of Radio Cairo, the Egyptian film industry and television, the country has great visibility in the Arab world. If the MB goes down in the flames of incompetence, lessons will be drawn elsewhere.


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