This Washington Post article’s headline entitled, “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood could be unraveling” optimistically infers that the largest organizational movement and political force in Egypt which seeks to turn Egypt into an Islamic state may be declining. The Post bases this claim on the “splintering” of roughly 200-2,000 members into their own parties and the Brotherhood’s seeming struggle to “adapt to the new political landscape” and softening on certain issues.
Contrarily, however, the Post goes on to note that, “Brotherhood officials dismiss the splinter groups as unimportant when compared with the estimated 600,000 members and millions of supporters they have across the country, and no one disputes that the group’s decades-long head start in organizing makes it Egypt’s most potent political force.” Reporting from abroad indicates this is actually the case, and then some.
The Guardian’s article observes that the Muslim Brotherhood must side with the demonstrators in order to maintain credibility but only after the “constitution first” demand was softened by the protestors. This indicates that its influence is still strong enough to hold sway. Meanwhile, Ely Karmon, Senior Researcher at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, states and posts in this Jerusalem Post article:
“AT THE beginning of the uprising in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood promised not to run a candidate in the presidential elections, and present candidates for only 30 percent of the parliamentary places. Nevertheless, since their victory in last March’s referendum, the Brotherhood has decided to form the Freedom and Justice Party, to run for 50% of the places in parliament in alliance with the old Wafd liberal party, and even present a candidate for the presidency, albeit one who claims to be independent.”
No mention is made, however, of the significance of any “splintering” of members into different political parties, as pointed out by Karmon. He suggests that it is evolving into more of a dominant player by the alliance with the Wafd party. The Muslim Brotherhood may pander a bit to other parties in order to show some flexibility but since it has not disavowed itself from its founding doctrine of a state based on Islamic governance, then one must judge on established precedent and not wishful thinking.
“That would be the same international Islamist organization that has the destruction of the United States, Israel, and all other parts of the Free World as its explicit objective,” Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy notes in a recent column.
Gaffney goes on to quote the Brotherhood’s creed: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” (Source: Husain Haqqani and Hillel Fradkin, “Islamist Parties: Going Back to the Origins.”)
The Brotherhood’s stated participation in this Friday’s demonstration at Tahrir Square has changed from inactivity not because they are radically softening their basis but because they are doing a maintenance maneuver. There is an obvious need for the Muslim Brotherhood to adapt in non-fundamental ways so that they maintain their potency among Egypt’s youth, but these measures only seek to strengthen the party in the end. It does not spell their demise or “unraveling.”