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SPECIAL REPORT: How the Muslim Brotherhood lost Egypt

Edmund Blair, Paul Taylor and Tom Perry published this July 25, 2013 “SPECIAL REPORT: How the Muslim Brotherhood lost Egypt”

CAIRO (Reuters) – When Egyptians poured onto the streets in their millions to demand the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, few thought they would return two years later demonstrating for the overthrow of the man they elected to replace him.

The stunning fall from power of President Mohamed Mursi, and the Muslim Brotherhood which backed him, has upended politics in the volatile Middle East for a second time after the Arab Spring uprisings toppled veteran autocrats.

Some of the principal causes were highlighted a month before the army intervened to remove Mursi, when two of Egypt’s most senior power brokers met for a private dinner at the home of liberal politician Ayman Nour on the island of Zamalek, a lush bourgeois oasis in the midst of Cairo’s seething megalopolis. It was seen by some as a last attempt to avert a showdown.

The two power brokers were Amr Moussa, 76, a long-time foreign minister under Mubarak and now a secular nationalist politician, and Khairat El-Shater, 63, the Brotherhood’s deputy leader and most influential strategist and financier. Moussa suggested that to avoid confrontation, Mursi should heed opposition demands, including a change of government.

“He (Shater) acknowledged what I said about the bad management of Egyptian affairs under their government and that there is a problem,” Moussa told Reuters. “He was talking carefully and listening attentively.”

Shater, a thick-set grizzly bear of a man who is now in detention and cannot tell his side of events, replied that the government’s problems were due to the “non-cooperation of the ‘deep state'” – the entrenched interests in the army, the security services, some of the judiciary and the bureaucracy, according to Moussa’s account.

“The message that I got after one hour was that OK, he would discuss with me, agree with some of my arguments, disagree with the rest, but they were not in the mood of changing,” Moussa said. Nour gave a similar account, saying Shater did not budge. But he added that the talks might have started a process of political compromise had they not been exposed in the media.

“(Shater) is a normal person and his appearance does not do him justice. His appearance gives the impression of mysteriousness and ruthlessness, but he is well-mannered and gentle,” Nour said.

The dinner on a terrace around the swimming pool of Nour’s 8th-floor duplex apartment was cut short when journalists got wind of the meeting. Moussa left convinced that the Brotherhood were over-confident, incompetent in government and had poor intelligence on what was brewing in the streets and the barracks.

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File photo of protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo

Protesters, who are against Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, hold a poster featuring the head of Eg …

Yet many Egyptian and foreign observers still expected the tightly knit Islamist movement, hardened by decades of repression, to dominate Egypt and the region for a prolonged period, after 60 years of rule by army-backed strongmen. Instead, Mursi was bundled out of office and into military detention on July 3 amid huge anti-government protests, barely a year after he became the first democratically elected leader of the Arab world’s most populous nation.

Mursi’s failure sends a powerful message: winning an election is not sufficient to govern Egypt. Post-Mubarak rulers need the acquiescence of the security establishment and of the population at large. Upset either and your position is not secure.

Egypt’s Islamists may draw the bitter lesson that the “deep state” will not let them wield real power, even with a democratic mandate. This report, compiled from interviews with senior Muslim Brotherhood and secular politicians, youth activists, military officers and diplomats, examines four turning points on Egypt’s revolutionary road: the Brotherhood’s decision to seek the presidency; the way Mursi pushed through the constitution; the failures of the secular opposition; and the military’s decision to step in.

Mursi and some senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders, who have been held incommunicado since the coup, could not be reached for comment.

With the Brotherhood angrily resisting its eviction from power, the prospects of Egypt’s second transition to democracy being smoother than the first look slight. This time, the army says it does not wish to exercise power directly as it did in 2011-12 after Mubarak’s fall. But few doubt that armed forces commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who planned Mursi’s overthrow and has since been promoted to deputy prime minister as well as minister of defense, is the man now in control.

TO RUN OR NOT TO RUN?

In the immediate aftermath of Mubarak’s overthrow, the Brotherhood had no intention of ruling. It reassured secular Egyptians and the army by promising publicly not to seek the presidency or an outright parliamentary majority.

“I met Shater three times in 2011/2012 and each time it was clear that the political appetite was growing, but the first time he was extremely explicit that the Brotherhood would not seek political power right away,” said U.S. academic Nathan Brown, a leading expert on Egypt at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “He was very clear to the reasons: the world’s not ready for it, Egypt’s not ready for it, and – the phrase he kept using – the burdens of Egypt are too big for any one political actor. Those turned out to be very sound judgments but he abandoned them.”

Events began to take on a momentum of their own. The Brotherhood won control of parliament in alliance with smaller Islamist and independents, but soon found that was not sufficient to pass or implement legislation. An army council kept the keys to power.

As the frustrations grew, some members of the Brotherhood – particularly the young – began to press for the movement to change its stance and bid for the presidency and the executive power it would bring.

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File photo of an injured supporter of deposed Egyptian …

An injured supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi carries a poster of Mursi as they r …

“The entire council of the Guidance Office of the Muslim Brotherhood was against the presidential nomination,” said Gehad El-Haddad, 31, one of the leading young Islamists. So Haddad and 16 other youth activists exploited Facebook and Twitter to change minds.

“We lobbied, the youth of the Muslim Brotherhood, we literally lobbied. We put up a chart of the Shura council members and decided which ones to pressure to change their vote,” the British-educated activist, now the movement’s spokesman, said in a midnight interview at a pro-Mursi protest camp outside a mosque in eastern Cairo. “The Muslim Brotherhood takes its vote from the grass roots up, even that vote.”

Opponents argued that the quest for executive power was premature and would fuel suspicion and hostility towards the Brotherhood, which had long pursued a patient, gradualist strategy.

The issue came to a head at a marathon closed-door meeting of the Brotherhood’s Shura Council at its four-storey headquarters in the hill-top Moqattam district that overlooks Cairo from the south.

“We remained for three days, debating, each team giving the justifications of the opinion it had, whether accepting or rejecting. And when the vote happened, the decision was just by three or four votes,” said Essam Hashish, 63, a university engineering lecturer and Shura member.

It was one of the most closely contested votes in the history of the movement and went to three rounds. Just 56 of the 108 members voted on the decisive ballot to put up a candidate for president, while 52 voted against. After that, support for Shater as the Brotherhood’s candidate for president became overwhelming.

The Islamists had earlier looked at nominating someone outside their movement, approaching respected judges Ahmed Mekky and Hossam Gheriyani, who had stood up to Mubarak. Both declined.

Insiders said Shater’s charisma and ambition were key factors. The furniture and shopping mall magnate was the dominant politician in the movement, described by colleagues and foreign diplomats as a powerful, pragmatic negotiator used to getting his way.

But his candidacy was short-lived. The electoral commission, headed by a Mubarak appointee, disqualified him on the grounds that he had been convicted of a criminal offence in 2007, even if the charges seemed politically motivated.

The mantle of Brotherhood candidate thus fell uncomfortably on the shoulders of Mursi, a provincial engineering professor who had studied in the United States but had less political savvy and public-speaking ability than Shater.

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File photo of a fly-past over protesters against ousted …

A view shows a fly-past over protesters against ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, in Tahrir S …

“When we took the decision to nominate Mursi, after the withdrawal of Khairat El-Shater, he (Mursi) returned home weeping: he had been given a responsibility that he had not sought,” Hashish said. “It was known that whoever took responsibility at this time would not find the road covered in roses. But we also knew that there was nobody at that time who could undertake this the way we could.”

Mursi narrowly won the presidential election on the second round of voting with 51.73 percent of the vote against Ahmed Shafik, a former air force general who was Mubarak’s last prime minister and faithful ally. The chubby, bespectacled Islamist owed his victory partly to the support of liberal and leftist candidates who threw their weight behind him between the two rounds. Their supporters hated Shafik and were given a string of assurances that Mursi would form an inclusive government, and involve them and civil society in drafting a new constitution.

Voters who switched from secular candidates on the first round to Mursi in the run-off were dubbed “lemon squeezers” in reference to the Egyptian tradition of making unpalatable food edible with a splash of lemon juice.

RAMMING THROUGH THE CONSTITUTION

Mursi moved swiftly to shake up the military after his inauguration on June 30, 2012. Within six weeks, he summoned Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, 76, who had served Mubarak for two decades and was interim head of state after him, and told him to retire, along with the U.S.-trained chief of staff, General Sami Enan. Mursi appointed a pious Muslim, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, as commander of the armed forces.

In one of the biggest misunderstandings of his term, the president believed he had stamped his authority on the men in uniform. In reality, the officer corps was willing to see two old retainers put out to pasture, clearing a blocked promotion ladder. “They (the Brotherhood) misread what happened. We allowed it to happen,” said one colonel.

The military still viewed with deep suspicion a head of state who, they believed, saw Egypt as “just part of a bigger (Islamic) Caliphate,” said the colonel.

Mursi believed the military would not act against him, especially if the Brotherhood took care of the army’s economic interests when drafting a new constitution. “He thought Sisi was his guy,” a senior Western diplomat said. “He didn’t understand the power dynamics.”

When Mursi and the Brotherhood pushed for a new constitution they clashed with secular parties and civil society groups angered by the Islamist tinge to the charter, ambiguous wording on freedom of expression, and the absence of explicit guarantees of the rights of women, Christians and non-government organizations.

After weeks of debate, fear that a judiciary packed with Mubarak-era appointees would dissolve the constituent assembly helped prompt Mursi to issue a decree shielding the assembly from legal challenge and putting the president above judicial review. It was a move borne out of the Brotherhood’s deep suspicion that the judiciary was out to undo all its electoral gains. When Mursi rammed the new charter through, the opposition walked out.

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File photo of a soldier asking a supporter of overthrown …

An army soldier asks a supporter of overthrown President Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood to …

“The truth is that the declaration (taking supra-legal powers) was a big mistake,” said Nour. It was still possible to rebuild confidence between Mursi and the political forces, he said, “but there was not enough effort from the two sides to rebuild this confidence.”

The constitutional decree was a turning point. Ministers were not consulted. Several of Mursi’s own staff warned that it would set him on a confrontation course with civil society. Five senior advisers quit. But Mursi displayed the same determination and self-confidence that marked his other key decisions.

“One thing we know about this president, he is as stubborn as hell,” said Gehad El-Haddad, a Brotherhood member whose father Essam El-Haddad, a British-trained doctor, was Mursi’s politically moderate top foreign policy adviser and is now in detention with him.

REJECTING THE OUTSTRETCHED HAND

The constitutional decree triggered weeks of street demonstrations outside Mursi’s Ittihadiya palace, which was regularly attacked with petrol bombs, rocks and metal bolts. Frustrated at the failure of the police and the Republican Guards to protect the presidency, the Brotherhood fielded its own well-drilled security guard outside the palace in pitched battles with anti-Mursi protesters on December 6.

The protests eventually faded, but that single sighting of an organized Brotherhood force in the streets, albeit without visible firearms, further alarmed both the secular opposition and the army.

Another wave of protests rolled over Egypt starting on January 25, the second anniversary of the uprising that overthrew Mubarak, while the main cities in the Suez Canal zone, where passions were running high over deaths in clashes at a soccer match, spun out of government control. Mursi imposed a curfew on Port Said, epicenter of the troubles. But he struggled to command obedience.

“People at night were playing football with the army which was supposed to be imposing the curfew,” said Mekky, who had become justice minister. “So when I (as president) impose a curfew and I see neither my citizens nor my army that are supposed to implement the curfew are listening to me, I should know that I am not really a president.”

On January 29, the army issued the first of a series of solemn warnings that political unrest was pushing Egypt to the brink of collapse and that the armed forces would remain “the solid and cohesive block” on which the state rests. In hindsight, it was a harbinger of military intervention.

With the exception of Nour, the liberal and secular opposition boycotted any contact with Mursi and the Brotherhood’s political wing after the constitution episode.

But the European Union, supported by the United States, launched a discreet diplomatic effort to try to bring the two sides to compromise on a national unity government. The aim was to trigger fresh parliamentary elections and a loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that could have unlocked stalled economic aid and investment.

For months, EU diplomat Bernardino Leon shuttled between the leaders of the six-party opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) alliance, Mursi’s office and the Brotherhood’s political wing, while keeping in touch with the army. By April, Leon had produced a draft deal that would have required both Mursi and his opponents to compromise.

Mursi never explicitly embraced the EU initiative, submitted to him in an email on April 11, although he never rejected it either. Events soon put a deal out of reach.

Haddad, one of the Brotherhood negotiators with Leon, suggested the leaders of the NSF were too divided to deliver on an agreement. Khaled Dawoud, the NSF’s spokesman, acknowledged the coalition was full of “big characters and big egos”, but said they had held together when it mattered.

Perhaps the main reason the deal foundered was that the Islamists considered the NSF politically insignificant. “There are only two players in this playground, the old regime … and the Muslim Brotherhood, and the rest just choose a camp. It is not a reality that everyone likes, but it is the reality, you can’t change that,” Haddad said.

When EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton returned to Cairo with Leon on June 18-19, the situation had deteriorated. “We found President Mursi far from reality,” a member of Leon’s team told Reuters. “The message of the visit was to tell him, ‘Mr President, you are running out of time. The country is running out of time’.”

THE COST OF LIVING

The Brotherhood had inherited a shattered economy from the military-led interim government. In the 17 months between Mubarak’s fall and Mursi’s inauguration, foreign currency reserves crumpled from $36 billion to $15.5 billion – hardly enough to cover three months’ imports. Cairo owed international energy companies about $8 billion in unpaid bills, prompting gas producers to reduce shipments to Egypt, freeze investment and slow domestic gas output.

Tourists and investors were scared away by images of violent street protests and political instability. The military council had vetoed a first attempt after the revolution to agree a loan with the International Monetary Fund, wanting to avoid piling debt on the country or compromising national sovereignty. Insiders in the early interim governments said the generals were also scared of triggering riots if they accepted IMF demands to curb food and fuel subsidies.

A former senior finance ministry official said Mursi’s constitutional decree effectively ruined any further prospect of an IMF loan. “What happened with the constitution showed the nation was split,” said the official. The risk of instability deterred the IMF.

Financial support from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates dried up because of their hostility to the Brotherhood, seen as a threat to Arab monarchies. Mursi became dependent on the gas-rich emirate of Qatar, which provided some $8 billion in loans, grants and deposits under his rule, with lesser sums from Turkey and Libya, both more sympathetic to the Brotherhood.

The inefficient system of subsidizing bread, cooking gas and diesel fuel became an ever greater burden on government finances, accounting for almost the entire budget deficit. There were shortages of diesel, with long lines at gas stations, sometimes causing fights at the pumps. Power cuts worsened in the run-up to mass protests on June 30, leaving many households without air conditioning for hours as peak summer heat approached. As the Egyptian pound tumbled in value, inflation hit 9.75 percent in June.

Feeling increasingly besieged, the Brotherhood accused saboteurs loyal to the former regime of manipulating fuel and electricity supplies. Many Egyptians blamed government incompetence.

“The biggest form of obstruction was the failure of the Ministry of the Interior to do its job. Imagine a state with no security,” said Bassem Ouda, 43, minister of supply for the last six months and a rising star in the Brotherhood. Interviewed at the pro-Mursi sit-in, he accused the ministry of directing criminal gangs that obstructed fuel distribution in the days that led up to June 30.

Economic grievances fuelled public support for a petition by the “Tamarud – Rebel!” youth movement demanding Mursi’s resignation and an early presidential election. Launched on May 1 by three activists in their twenties armed with little more than mobile phones and laptops, the petitions spread like wildfire.

Khaled Dawoud, the NSF spokesman, recalled attending an early Tamarud news conference on May 12. “They held it in some miserable office … you couldn’t even breathe in that building,” he said. “And then they announced, boom, inside that room, that in a matter of days, weeks, we gathered two million signatures – people saying we want early president elections.”

He said that when he went to his next NSF meeting, he told his leaders: “OK, we can go on the record, these are brilliant people, we have to support them.”

By June 30, the organizers claimed to have 22 million signatures with addresses and national identity numbers. There was no independent verification, but the movement had clearly hit a national nerve. Mahmoud Badr, 28, the young journalist who co-founded the group, told Reuters that Tamarud had succeeded where others failed by dint of shoe-leather campaigning and savvy use of social media.

Brotherhood officials are convinced that Tamarud was bankrolled and abetted by Gulf money, exiled Egyptian oligarchs and the army. The reality appears to have been more spontaneous and less conspiratorial, though some unfamiliar faces with suspected links to the security services began to appear at Tamarud campaign offices in the final days.

Billionaire businessman Naguib Sawiris, who left Egypt shortly after Mursi’s election, told Reuters he threw his full support behind the youth movement.

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File photo of an an anti-Mursi protester running to …

An anti-Mursi protester runs to throw a tear gas canister back during clashes with riot police at Ta …

“The Free Egyptians party, the party that I founded, used all its branches across Egypt to (gather) signatures for Tamarud,” Sawiris said in a telephone interview from his yacht off the Greek island of Mykonos. “Also the TV station that I own and the newspaper, Al-Masry Al-Youm, were supporting the Tamarud movement with their media … It is fair to say that I encouraged all the affiliations I have to support the movement. But there was no financing, because there was no need.”

ANOTHER FLAWED TRANSITION

Exactly when the military decided it would overthrow Mursi is disputed. Senior officers said that General Sisi, up until the last day of his ultimatum for the president to accept a power-sharing agreement, continued to hope Mursi would agree to call a referendum on the continuation of his rule. That would have given a constitutional fig-leaf to his departure.

A senior army colonel said the military had acted to save the country from civil war. “This has nothing to do with the army wanting power, but with the people wanting the army to be involved. They trust us, you know, because we will always be with the Egyptian people, not with a person or a regime,” he said.

The military now faces the same conundrum it failed to solve in 2011-12: how to make Egypt work without taking responsibility, and hence unpopularity, for painful reforms?

In their first temporary stint in power, the generals presided over a period of economic stagnation, unabated human rights abuses and scant reform. They seemed almost relieved to hand the poison chalice to Mursi upon his election, even though they did not trust the Brotherhood with all the levers of power.

This time, it’s different, said the colonel. The army will not govern and there will be a short, sharp transition to elected civilian government. Yet despite a sudden infusion of $12 billion in Saudi, UAE and Kuwaiti aid, the starting conditions look worse than for the previous period of military rule.

The Brotherhood is entrenched in sullen opposition, determined to prevent the new technocratic government succeeding where its own administration failed. The army vacillates between saying it wants to include the Brotherhood in a new political process and cracking down on its leaders, accused of inciting violence and betraying the country. Mursi, his closest aides and the Brotherhood’s most powerful politicians are being held in extra-judicial custody by the army at undisclosed locations.

Those leaders still at large say they have begun a long march of non-violent resistance until the Brotherhood prevails over the army. But a radical fringe of Islamists may revert to armed struggle and assassinations. First signs are visible in the lawless Sinai peninsula. Others may go back to a strategy of Islamizing Egyptian society from the grassroots up, rather than the top down.

Repression will only strengthen the Brotherhood, said Haddad. “This is an organization built for 85 years under oppressive regimes. That is our comfort zone. They just pushed us back into it.

“This is a stand-off. Either we force the military’s head back into their barracks, and they have to be taught a lesson not to pop their head back into the political scene ever again, or we die trying.”

(This story was refiled to fix spelling in 15th pragraph)

(Edmund Blair, Paul Taylor and Tom Perry reported from Cairo; Additional reporting by Yasmine Saleh in Cairo; Writing by Paul Taylor; Editing By Richard Woods)

No to Sunni version of Wilayat Fakeeh in Egypt

Mohammad Morsi has been deposed by a military and mass protest that lasted more than a week. He had fled from prison two years ago as Mubarak was sacked.

Cartoon showing Morsi sleeping by Mubarak, and Mubarak telling him “Close your eyes and do as I did

The extremist Supreme Guide murshid of the Moslem Brotherhood, Mohammad Badi3, is detained, along with 300 its cadres.

All the religious TV channels are temporary suspended.

Within a year, the elected president Morsi acted as if the executive branch for the Supreme Guide in all the critical political decisions.

Morsi quickly wrote a constitution to the Brotherhood dictates, alienated the Constitutional Supreme Court, dismissed the Prosecutor General, and broke diplomatic relation with Syria at the instigation of  Mohammad Badi3.

During an entire year, Morsi demonstrated to the Egyptian that Egypt has substituted its political system to an Iranian Wilayat Fakeeh, the Sunni version and ruled by the imams and clerics of the Moslem Brotherhood.

It is to be noted that Iran took advantage of 8 years of protracted war with Iraq of Saddam Hussein to manage a transition to a Wilayat Fakeeh orientation.

Morsi wanted this transition to be done within a year, and with no war to back this emergency situation.

As millions of protesters converged on the streets of Egypt on June  30 to peacefully and boisterously demand the downfall of Egypt’s first elected  president Mohammed Morsi, deadly clashes broke out in several spots  across the volatile nation. Around midnight, the Muslim Brotherhood’s international headquarters, located in  Cairo’s upscale Moqattam district, was in flames.

Mohannad Sabry posted for Al-Monitor this July 2, 2013: ” The Muslim Brotherhood Fights For Legacy, Not for Morsi”
The six-story building declared as the Muslim Brotherhood General Center in  2011 — after decades of underground operations and being hunted down by Hosni  Mubarak, Anwar Sadat, and Gamal Abdel Nasser’s security — was attacked by dozens  of rock- and Molotov cocktail-hurling protesters.
The attacks ensued despite the  obvious security precautions taken by the Brotherhood youth over the past week:  they covered the building’s windows with street-war like sandbags, chain-locked  the gates, wielded their weapons and bunkered inside.

As massive clouds of smoke blew out of the iconic Guidance Bureau of the  worldwide organization, the movement’s disciplined, listen-and-obey youth  continued to fire live ammunition at the assaulters. No more Brotherhood  reinforcements arrived at the burning headquarters, and armored vehicles of the  Interior Ministry stood watching from a distance, a clear message that the  police would no longer protect the ruling clique.

Eight anti-Morsi protesters were killed by live bullets, mostly to the head and neck, and more than 35 were wounded by live rounds and birdshot.

Calls for  blood donations to the battle-neighboring hospital continued to circulate social  media websites for hours. How the Muslim Brotherhood fighters evacuated their  positions remains unknown, but one of them was caught by protesters trying to  escape and was brutally stripped naked and stabbed before reaching the police  station in  critical condition.

Protesters seen through a damaged window  from inside the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters after it was attacked by  protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo’s Moqattam  district, July 1, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Certain that the office-turned-barracks had been abandoned after hours of  deadly fighting, opposition attackers and random angry passersby raided the  building, and looted everything they came across. Stacks of confidential Muslim  Brotherhood documents were photographed and set free to virally circulate the  Internet. One document listed millions of dollars of financial gifts and grants  made by Qatar’s Prime Minster, Emir Hamad Bin Jassim Al-Thani, to top Brotherhood and Morsi  administration officers.

The authenticity of the document was never confirmed but the incident was  definitely reminiscent of raiding the clandestine fortress of Hosni Mubarak’s  State Security in March 2011; the freshly obtained Muslim Brotherhood leaks will  virally spread for weeks.

Surprisingly, thousands of devoted Brotherhood members holding their sit-in  a few miles away didn’t mobilize to protect their sabotaged minaret. Top  officials like Khairat El-Shater, the organization’s most influential  financier and deputy chairman, did not order their subservient youth to march in  defense of either Islamic Sharia or political legitimacy, as they once did in  December 2012 when they attacked an opposition sit-in at the east Cairo  presidential palace, leaving a dozen protesters dead.

“They are in a state of shock, serious and unprecedented shock,” a sacked  Muslim Brotherhood official who worked with both Morsi and El-Shater told  Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity.

“They underestimated June 30, but it turned out to be a surprising blow that  paralyzed their plans,” said the source who insisted on hiding his identity  fearing Brotherhood retaliation amid the ongoing instability. “After months of  undermining the opposition and people, no one could imagine the numbers and  momentum of protests, and accordingly no one had a backup plan.”

The former Brotherhood official says the movement fears a disastrous  post-Morsi future. “They will be hunted down and sent back to prison, by law for  crimes committed during Morsi’s year in power, or in a state of lawlessness that  the country will turn a blind eye on because of widespread and apparent hatred.  They are coming to realize that they will reap what they sowed.”

“The developments were too fast, so that they didn’t have a chance to flee  the country, like Mubarak’s officials who jumped ship early in January 2011,”  the source said. “The military and police apparently locked Egypt up and  Islamists are now on a turf that definitely doesn’t belong to them anymore,  despite Morsi, who is now in a palace that doesn’t obey him, more of a temporary  lock-up.”

Such anti-Morsi developments are not only limited to the Muslim Brotherhood  in Egypt.

The powerfully strategized, multibillion-dollar organization with its  deep-rooted divisions in almost every country in the Arab and Islamic world and  its worldwide businesses, either official or clandestine, is not fighting for  Egypt’s presidential seat: It is fighting for an 8-decade global legacy that  will imminently suffer the aftershocks of the popular quake jolting its murshid’s [supreme guide’s] historical  fortress in Cairo.

“This is a major element in the Brotherhood’s calculation and this is their  greater battle,” retired Col. Khaled Okasha, a security analyst and former head  of North Sinai’s Civil Defense Department of the Interior Ministry, told  Al-Monitor.

“The Egypt command, which is the only global command, has always been the  source of power to all sub-divisions in other countries,” added Okasha. “If the  Supreme Guide and his Cairo bureau are hit hard by Morsi’s downfall and all of  the current situation’s political and social consequences, they will become  nothing but a counselor to the international divisions that will then start  working independently according to their pure domestic circumstances.”

“Egypt’s presidency, the biggest win in the Brotherhood’s history and the  recently yet internationally recognized political umbrella for the Brotherhood  worldwide, will be gone with Morsi leaving office.”

Okasha disputed that Morsi and his Islamist cronies will suffer exceptional  oppressive measures after their much anticipated ouster. “Such exceptional  oppression requires a decades-strong dictatorship like Mubarak’s, which you  cannot build in a few weeks. That dictatorship was brought down in January  2011.”

“This orchestrated fear is mostly Morsi’s last card to maintain his  supporters’ morale. The Brotherhood is leading a smear campaign against every  scenario involving Morsi’s downfall.”

Okasha believes that, legally, the Muslim Brotherhood officers including Morsi, in  case of his resignation, will stand dozens of trials that could extend for  years, a scene very similar to Hosni Mubarak, his sons and regime members.

Over the past week, unconfirmed reports of Egypt’s Islamist figures on  travel ban lists and Qatar demanding the departure of Youssef Al-Qaradawi, the influential Muslim Brotherhood  cleric, have shed some light on repercussions that might possibly hunt the Muslim Brotherhood wherever they are.

The Gaza Strip’s Hamas Movement, the  closest of the Middle East offshoots to the command in Egypt, stands first in  the line after Morsi and the Guidance Bureau, and is desperately trying to avoid  the looming domino effect.

Hamas’s popularity in Gaza and Egypt continues to sink because of their shameless interference in defense of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi and  creating animosities with almost every non-Islamist power in Egypt. In addition  to politics, the relations between the peoples of Egypt and Gaza were negatively  impacted,” said Ahmed Ban, a researcher of Islamist movements who heads the  Political and Social Movements Unit at the independent Nile Center for Strategic  Studies.

“Hamas should hastily apologize to the Egyptian people and attempt fixing  what it broke by interference in Egypt, if that’s possible, and if the situation  worsens, it could be a start to the gradual end of Hamas’ rule over Gaza,” Ban  told Al-Monitor.

“Moreover, the 80-year cartel imposed by Egyptians on the global Supreme  Guidance in Cairo and the Guidance Council will be ended, possibly moved to  another country, and accordingly limiting the majority of direct supply,  political endorsement and the post-January 2011 refuge for Hamas.”

Signs of Hamas’ worsening situation have also surfaced in the past week.

On  June 30, Egypt’s military deployed tanks at the Gaza border; the first  appearance of Egyptian tank divisions in Sinai’s military-free Zone C since the Israeli withdrawal in 1982.

The exceptional deployment was ordered by the military shutting down the underground Rafah tunnels feeding Hamas’ armed militias with weapons and other  logistics, and it coincided with the arrest of three different groups of Hamas  armed members in different locations around Cairo on the same day, one the  detained groups occupied an apartment close to the destroyed Brotherhood Cairo  headquarters.

“They are in the heart of the Muslim Brotherhood’s battle to defend what  remains of their temple, a battle viewed by Hamas as their own,” said Okasha,  the retired colonel. “Morsi and the Brotherhood’s rule was a special,  unprecedented win for Hamas, I don’t think they will rethink their position and  withdraw from the scene at such a critical moment.”

As soon as the Egyptian military stepped in and declared a 48-hour ultimatum  for Morsi to satisfy national demands, the sacked Muslim Brotherhood member  reached out to Al-Monitor.

“The military just opened a less disastrous exit for Morsi, but he won’t take it,” the source said. “The Muslim Brotherhood is too blind to realize how weak  its cards have become.”

Hours later, a presidential statement rebuffed the military’s clear  warning.

Mohannad  Sabry is an Egyptian journalist based in Cairo. He has written  for McClatchy Newspapers and The Washington Times, served as  managing editor of Global Post’s reporting fellowship Covering the Revolution,  in Cairo, and contributed to its special reports “Tahrir Square” and “Egypt: The  Military, the People.” On Twitter: @mmsabry

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/07/egyptian-muslim-brotherhood-fights-survival-morsi.html#ixzz2XzyAJ18A

Do Egypt Moslem Brothers have established a State within a State?

Is Egypt’s Brotherhood still operating secretively?

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi speaks publicly of firsthand knowledge of a meeting where opponents allegedly plotted against him.

A few months earlier, the most powerful man in his Muslim Brotherhood group, Khairat el-Shater, says he has access to recordings of former military rulers and electoral officials engineering his disqualification from last year’s presidential race.

HAMZA HENDAWI posted this Feb. 21, 2013 

In Egypt, those statements are seen by security officials, former members of the Islamist group and independent media as strong hints that the Brotherhood might be running its own intelligence-gathering network outside of government security agencies and official channels.

Such concerns dovetail the Brotherhood, which has a long history of operating clandestinely, to suspicion that it remains a shadowy group with operations that may overlap with the normal functions of a state.

Brotherhood supporters also demonstrated militia-like capabilities at anti-Morsi protests in December.

Another oft-heard charge comes from the Foreign Ministry, where officials complain that the president relies more on trusted Brotherhood advisers than those inside the ministry in formulating foreign policy.

The Brotherhood emerged from Egypt’s 2011 uprising as the country’s dominant political group and Morsi was elected president in June of last year as the group’s candidate.

The motive for setting up parallel operations could be rooted in the fact that many government bodies, such as security agencies and the judiciary, are still dominated by appointees of the ousted regime of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak or anti-Islamists with long-held suspicions of the Brotherhood.

The perception that such agencies are hostile to the country’s new Islamist leaders lends their rule an embattled aspect despite a string of electoral victories.

“The problem with the Brotherhood is that they came to power but are still dealing with the nation as they did when they were in the opposition,” said Abdel-Jalil el-Sharnoubi, former editor-in-chief of the group’s website who left the Brotherhood in May 2011.

“Because they cannot trust the state, they have created their own,” he added.

The notion of a state within a state has precedents elsewhere in the Arab world. In Lebanon, the Iranian-backed Shiite Hezbollah is the de facto government in much of the south and east of the country and has its own army and telephone network.

To a lesser extent, followers of Iraq’s anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are de facto administrators of Shiite districts in Baghdad and in parts of the mostly Shiite south.

In Egypt, the situation reflects a chasm that has emerged since the uprising over the nation’s future. In one camp is the Brotherhood, their Islamist allies and a fairly large segment of the population that is conservative and passively inclined toward the ideas of Islam as a way of life.

Arrayed against them is a bloc of comparable size that includes not only those who served under Mubarak in the state and security structures but also moderate Muslims, liberals, secularists, women and Christians who account for about 10 percent of the population.

The Brotherhood denies that any of its activities are illegal or amount to a state within a state.

“The Brotherhood is targeted by a defamation campaign, but will always protect its reputation and these immoral battles will never change that,” said spokesman Ahmed Aref, alluding to claims that the group was running a parallel state.

“There is still an elite in Egypt that remains captive to Mubarak’s own view of the Brotherhood,” he added.

For most of the 85 years since its inception, the Brotherhood operated secretively as an outlawed group, working underground and often repressed by governments.

But even after its political success, the group is still suspected of secretive operations.

The Brotherhood counters that it has legitimacy on its side, having consistently won at the ballot box since Mubarak’s ouster. And they accuse the opposition of conspiring with former regime members in an attempt to overthrow a democratically elected administration.

The two most powerful Brotherhood figures, wealthy businessman el-Shater and spiritual leader Mohamed Badie, are seen by many in Egypt as the real source of power — wielding massive influence over Morsi and his government.

El-Shater, according to the former Brotherhood members and security officials, is suspected of running an information gathering operation capable of eavesdropping on telephones and email.

He was the Brotherhood’s first choice for presidential candidate in last year’s election but was disqualified over a Mubarak-era conviction.

Following his disqualification, he publicly said last summer that he had access to recordings of telephone conversations between members of the election commission and the military council that ruled Egypt for nearly 17 months after Mubarak’s ouster.

The conversations, he claimed, were to engineer throwing him out of the race. He did not say how he knew of the contacts or their contents.

Again in December, he suggested that he had access to information gathered clandestinely.

Addressing Islamists in a televised meeting, he said he has “detected from various sources” that there were meetings of people allegedly plotting to destabilize Morsi’s rule.

He did not identify the alleged plotters nor say how he had learned of the meetings.

A spokesman for the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, said at the time when asked for comment that it was to be expected from a group as big as the Brotherhood to have its own “resources.” That was taken as virtual confirmation of a parallel intelligence gathering operation.

Morsi was also seen as suggesting that the Brotherhood was spying on critics when he spoke to supporters outside his presidential palace in November. He said he had firsthand knowledge of what transpired in a meeting of several of his critics.

“They think that they can hide away from me,” he said.

The words of El-Shater and Morsi were taken as strong hints that the Brotherhood has its own intelligence gathering operation. But in a country fed on a steady diet of conspiracy theories, no hard evidence has come to light, only suspicion and talk.

A former Brotherhood member, Mohammed el-Gebbah, claimed the group had 6 “mini intelligence centers,” including one housed in its headquarters in the Cairo district of Moqqatam.

He did not provide evidence to back his claim and another Brotherhood spokesman, Murad Ali, denied that the group has such capability.

In an off-the-cuff remark, Brotherhood stalwart Essam el-Aryan said last October that Morsi’s presidential palace secretly records all “incoming and outgoing communications.” The president’s spokesman swiftly denied it.

But it only fed the notion of a Brotherhood parallel intelligence gathering operation with Morsi’s support and cooperation.

Another concern that has arisen is whether the Brotherhood might be running its own militias outside of government security agencies.

That fear arose from a wave of mass protests that turned violent in December. Protesters for and against Morsi faced off over decrees, since rescinded, that gave the president near absolute powers.

In early December, the Brotherhood posted a “general alert” on its official Facebook page and the next day, groups of armed Brotherhood supporters attacked opposition protesters staging a sit-in outside Morsi’s palace.

Thousands of Morsi supporters and opponents poured into the area and street fighting continued well into the night.

Video clips later posted on social networks showed Brotherhood supporters stripping and torturing protesters in makeshift “detention centers” set up just outside the palace gates, partly to extract confessions that they were on the opposition’s payroll.

On-camera testimonies by victims to rights groups spoke of police and palace workers standing by and watching as they were being abused by Brotherhood supporters.

At least 10 people were killed and 700 injured in the clashes on Dec. 5.

The next morning, groups of Morsi supporters staged military-style drills in residential areas near the palace.

Ali, the group’s spokesman, denied the existence of any kind of militias.

“We have no military or non-military formations. None whatsoever,” he said.

Aref, the other spokesman, disputed the version of events outside Morsi’s palace on Dec. 5, saying 11 of the group’s supporters were killed by thugs and nearly 1,500 injured, including 132 who were shot.

“The facts of that day were turned upside down to mislead public opinion and the victims became the culprit,” he said.


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