A bloody reckoning for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
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Deplorable though the violence is, much of it stems from the organisation's extremism.
The Muslim Brotherhood has put the final nail in its own coffin with the brutal killing of 26 police officers in Sinai. It is a declaration of the death of political Islam.
By embracing violence, it has undercut the wave of sympathy after the killing of its supporters by the security forces. The founder of the organisation and top leaders are now under detention; many of them went underground and disguised themselves to evade arrest.
The army coup may be seen as the reason for bloodshed, but nobody can ignore the threat to national security by the Brotherhood with its slogan: “Either Morsi or we’ll burn Egypt”.
It was quick to retaliate to violence by the security forces with more than 40 churches burnt, police stations destroyed and more than 50 officers killed, some of them thrown down from a flyover. Thousands are dead and hundreds injured in the clashes that followed; still more blood is being spilled in the streets.
The tragedy of democracy is unfolding in Egypt with these deaths. As a consequence, there has been a great deal of global condemnation with the army being squarely blamed for the mess.
It was the Egyptian army which played a major role in deposing former president Hosni Mubarak peacefully, allowed elections and Mohammed Morsi’s rise to power. But as Khalid Gamal Abdul Nasser said, the military coup that brought Morsi down was led by 40 million people. It was a move welcomed by many nations after assurances from the army to draft a new constitution hold a parliamentary and presidential election.
Many argued that the anger in the street was obvious with all forces joining hands to topple Morsi; it would not have been possible for the army itself to mobilise millions of people in the cities and towns in support of its move. To avoid descending into chaos, the army then found itself fighting a well-trained and armed military wing of a Brotherhood which is pushing its own agenda, rejecting any dialogue with the army for reconciliation and joining the political mainstream.
The defiant Brotherhood generated fear among many Egyptians, especially Coptic minorities, who started packing and leaving or preparing to leave the country.
There is no justification for a military coup to dispose an elected president but the situation is unique in Egypt. The Brotherhood-led government had tried to seize control of the three main pillars of the state the judiciary, media and the army within a short time and preferred to challenge the army and confront it rather than work with it.
Arms for the Brotherhood had been pouring in from all sides since what has been termed the Arab Spring; from Libya, Turkey, Israel, Sudan, Yemen and Europe. The rise of militants in Libya and Tunisia has also boosted the morale of the Brotherhood in Egypt and Turkey; it has plotted with the US, Britain and France to reject any dialogue with the army. Sources allege that this also exposes its links with those nations with vested interests who want to use it as a Trojan horse to destabilise the region so that their objectives can be achieved by creating a constructive anarchy in North African states and West Asia namely, replacing autocratic regimes with ‘moderate Islamic parties’ who are well prepared, organised, trained and armed.
The Arab street aspired for democratic change but not to have the Brotherhood as the only alternative.
The army’s motives should be judged in the context of how quick the Brotherhood was to embrace violence to revenge Morsi’s removal. Fortunately, according to Egyptian sources, the army was quick to pre-empt the plot to target public properties, mosques, churches and jails, and attempts to attack the Suez Canal by trained militant suicide groups trained in Libya.
The logic behind the Brotherhood’s objective of creating instability and chaos in Egypt is that it wants to bring about international intervention, similar to what happened in Syria.
According to sources, Brotherhood supporters burned Rabia al-Adawiya mosque to destroy evidence of the plot they had prepared to take Egypt into chaos.
Inside the Trojan horse of political Islam is a bigger plot to interfere in the Arab world and to re-colonise and disintegrate it along ethnic and sectarian lines. Those who supported agents of political Islam and funded it know that the aim is for internecine warfare under the pretext that the ummah has diverted from the true teachings of Islam.
However, the actual objective is to weaken the Arab world, with Muslims killing each other under the pretext of defending Islamic values.
The fight in Egypt is a part of the struggle in the Arab world to save it from descending into this chaos. The price will be high, the entire process painful and bloody. But with the popular support for the army and rejection of extremist ideology, Egypt may be able to come out on the other side.
For the Brotherhood, it would be wise to renounce violence and build on the sympathy generated by Morsi’s removal, learning from the 365 days of misrule and staying within the political mainstream. The alternative is a return to its bloody past.
The people of Egypt have shown what they want. They are acting for a better future and better opportunities for everyone. Picking up guns will only ensure the opposite and benefit no one except external enemies.
The author is an international correspondent based in South Asia. Views expressed are personal.