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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Rifts in the Muslim Brotherhood Amid Growing Anarchy in Egypt

Filed under: Jerusalem

The economic, social, and political situation in Egypt is getting worse. Due to the security situation, civilians are buying weapons and hiring militias to protect themselves. Confrontations between Islamists and Copts, as well as Islamists and seculars, are increasing. The ruling Military Council is not coping with the many challenges, and there are voices claiming that Egypt is on the verge of a civil war.

During the first quarter of the year, the Egyptian economy shrunk by 7 percent. Mohamed ElBaradei, the former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency and candidate for the Egyptian presidency, recently told CNN that “Egypt is disintegrating socially; economically we are not in the best state. Politically it’s like a black hole. We do not know where we are heading.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), Saudi Arabia, and the United States have all promised financial support for Egypt. However, this assistance won’t be able to solve the structural problems of the Egyptian economy, which is based on agriculture and tourism, and lacks any serious industrial or high-tech component. Under current circumstances, further deterioration of the socio-economic situation can be expected, which no doubt will benefit the extremist elements, primarily the Muslim Brotherhood.

The leaders of the demonstrators and the secular opposition parties believe that the Military Council is not very keen on executing radical reforms, and purposely acts slowly. Consequently, on May 27, a second Friday of Anger was held across Egypt in order to pressure the Council, and especially its leader, General Mohamed Tantawi. The Muslim Brotherhood announced that it would not take part in the demonstrations, thus reinforcing the growing gap with the secular opposition. But to their great surprise, the young guard of their movement decided to participate, against the will of the supreme leader. This is the first sign of a rift within the Muslim Brotherhood, which is known for its intransigent hierarchy and for unquestioned obedience to its leaders since its establishment 83 years ago.

It seems like the new, revolutionary Egypt will experience many years of confrontations before a new, democratic regime will evolve, based on freedom of speech, human rights, liberation of women, and religious tolerance towards the Copts.