Why the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s Victory at the Polls May not be Decisive

The Muslim Brotherhood received a little over a third of the votes in the third round of elections for the lower house of parliament. Since the fundamentealist Nur (Light) Party, backed by the Salafis, also did well, Muslim religious parties will have a majority in the new parliament.

There are four reasons for which this victory of the Egyptian equivalent of the Tea Party does not necessarily imply that Egypt is turning into another Iran.

1) The Brotherhood is much more moderate than the Salafis and probably will not seek a legislative coalition with the latter. This skittishness about the Salafis derives both from a desire not to be tarred by the brush of religious intolerance and by the difference in the two traditions (the Muslim Brotherhood is much less hostile to traditional Egyptian Muslim practices such as attendance at saints’ shrines or Sufi spirituality). Therefore, the Muslim Brotherhood is saying that it prefers to partner with parties such as the secular Wafd in forming a governing majority rather than with the Salafis. The Wafd has many Coptic Christian supporters. A Brotherhood-Wafd alliance would resemble the government in Tunisia.

2. Power still resides in the presidency in Egypt. Until a new president is elected, the officer corps says it fulfills that function.

3. The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is under no obligation to appoint a prime minister from the largest party in parliament. SCAF has indicated that it will retain Prime Minister Ganzouri, a secularist, as prime minister, regardless of the outcome of the elections. Thus, unlike in Europe, where the parliamentary majority chooses the prime minister, in Egypt there can be a disconnect between the PM and the parliament’s majority.

4. The military will appoint 80 of the 100 members of the constituent assembly that will draft the new constitution. That the Brotherhood and its allies will have a majority in parliament is irrelevant to the draft.

The ameliorating factors in Egyptian politics that forestall a Muslim Brotherhood majority from ruling high-handedly may not last very long. The Brotherhood now has a popular mandate, after all. And, they are anti-democratic in giving so much power to unelected officers. But until SCAF is sent back to the barracks, assuming that can happen, they do prevent the Brotherhood from instituting a theocracy.

Posted in Uncategorized | 33 Responses | Print |

33 Responses

  1. I think that the SCAF has retracted from choosing 80% of the constituent assembly. They whole assembly will be chosen by the parliament but 80% of the assembly members must be out of the parliament.

  2. Prevent MB from instituting a theocracy ? what do you mean ?

    its pretty clear that MB is against a theocracy like Iran.

    • Clear to whom?

      Professor Cole is writing for an American audience, to whom the name “Muslim Brotherhood” is indistinguishable from a terrorist organization (which, years ago, the MB was).

  3. In other words, the pro-US military dictatorship may successfully prevent Egyptian policy from becoming responsive to the will of the Egyptian people.

    • If Eygpt had a dictator like the one they had in the early fifties, Gamal Abdul Nasser, a secular nationalist who imprisoned Muslim Brothers, leftists would love him for his anti-Israel, anti-US stance.

  4. Is it fair to equate the MB with the TP? This is a fairly nuanced analysis of an remarkably subtle political evolution, and it shows the MB playing off other forces within the context of SCAF, whose ulterior motives have yet to be fully exposed. It reflects good, patient and smart politicians, and the best politicians work the whole crowd to one degree or another—hardly a description of those in the TP.

    At the most, the TP reminds me of the uncompromising, know-nothing Salafists. The ideology of the TP hasn’t jelled into anything as empowering to simple-minded Searchers, but its all that’s bubbled up too date. At best, what they have grasped onto as a belief is a fundamentalist interpretation of a Constitution they’ve never read that was explicitly written NOT to be a dictate.

    Great, nuanced post, that highlites how the actions of the SCAF are going to be so very telling to the future of Egypt, for better or worse.

  5. Dear Prof. Cole:

    A more apt title would have been “Why the Egyptian MB’s Victory at the Polls May not Translate into an Immediate Consolidation of Power” or something to that effect. (They clearly won a decisive victory and I will explain that later) Yet, you give four reasons why the MB victory does not mean Egypt will become another Iran. Outside of western fear mongering, and “anti-Islamic” trends in the Arab world, no one believes that Egypt will become another Iran. There are many reasons for this but the most important is that the Sunni current found in the political ideology of the MB does not believe that the implementation of Islamic governance is the role of the scholars. Furthermore, unlike sh’ite historical political development, there are no formal clergy, much less clerical rule in Sunni Islam. I humbly challenge you to name one Sunni scholar that is equivalent to a Khameani, Sistant, Sadr or Nasrallah. Even if you say Qaradawi it would establish my point. He is prominent only because he is close to the MB and has been given political asylum by Qatar. There are literally thousands of scholars like him throughout the Muslim world but don’t enjoy the same prominence because they don’t have the same political cover.

    I will go further to say that most non-Muslims and many Muslims don’t understand the concept of Shari’ah (or Islamic rule). Ruling by Islam or the Qur’an does not equate to a theocracy. As you know Islam is a way of life not merely a religion. No one questions the right of westerners to choose “democracy” as their “way of life” or form of rule. Why should anyone question the right of Muslims to be ruled by their chosen way of life and form of government? It is arrogance (the west has had a difficult interaction between “religion and state” over the last two millennium) that views “democracy” as superior to Shari’ah or an Islamic form of governance. Nevertheless for many other reasons, such as the way the revolution came about, Egypt will not resemble Iran in terms of the outcome of its revolution.

    Having said this I also have some issues with your four points:

    1.Even if the MB and Nur do not form a coalition government, when it comes to Islam being the basis for the Egyptian constitution there will be no differences between them on the Islamic theme of the document. Egypt’s constitution is already predicated on Islam. The issue will be whether Nur will embed a more formal wording to the “Islamization” of the constitution and whether liberal groups will carve out a clear a bill of rights for individual freedoms. In Tunisia Elnahda saw no choice but to form a coalition with the secular parties. The MB in Egypt does not want to rule alone even though it could have likely mustered a clear majority in the parliament.

    2.Unless the MB and Nur back separate candidates no president can win without an MB endorsement and this includes Amr Moussa. As for the status quo that is what’s at issue. The stronger the MB gets with popular support the more it will be able to confront the SCAF on its powers. And this point of yours is not a reason why Egypt will not be like Iran but why the MB will not immediately realize all of its goals until the role of the military is clearly defined in the future.

    3.Similarly the situation with the military is fluid and can change relatively quickly. If you noticed the MB chose its battles carefully but when they did not like a SCAF position they made it clear and prevailed, which leads to

    4.The SCAF has backtracked on this issue after the MB sent its supporters to the streets when this was announced in November. The MB and Nur will not accept to be sidelined after winning a clear mandate. While Egyptians will hold the MB to a very high standard as far as security and the economy go they will see through any plots seeking their failure. The Hamas experience is a case and point. Hamas is stronger now that it has been at any time since its election in 2006. Preventing the Islamists from ruling is bad policy.

    The MB did not contest every single seat in parliament. In fact in the last round it only contested something like 134 of 168 seats available. Similarly in the first two rounds the MB did not contest every individual seat available to independents which make up a third of the parliament. In addition, 10 seats are appointed and not elected. The point is that if the MB absolutely chose to contest every single seat they may have won not just a plurality but an outright majority. Another point to consider is that the MB and the Nur (which is a coalition of Islamic parties) are not the only Islamists in parliament. The liberal wasat party (which broke off from the MB many years ago) won 4% of the vote. Similarly true independents who won individual seats may caucus with the MB on many issues. Given this I just can’t see how the MB victory is not completely decisive.

    Finally, Prof. Cole I humbly suggest that light is shed on how the MB model can succeed in Egypt not on how they maybe prevented “…from instituting a theocracy”.

    • You are sidestepping human rights questions. Can a Copt or a woman be president? Can secularists publish & run for office? Are intellectuals declared atheist non-Muslims and forcibly divorced from their spouses? Are adulterers stoned to death? Gays? Are unveiled women in public arrested by police? Can a woman travel abroad without permission of a male guardian? Is blasphemy a capital crime? Are there religious courts? We’ve seen these things in other theocracies.

      • Prof. Cole:

        You already know my view on this but I will summarize. While there are basic human rights all human beings share, current debate of the subject of “human rights” reveals a double standard in application vis-à-vis Islam and the west. The west moves the marker and changes the standard as it goes, forcing the Muslim world to always play catch up. However, when you measure the extent of each in practice you find the west has visited much more of man’s in humanity to man on others. For Muslims it’s simple; since God created us He best knows our nature. Therefore, the shari’ah is not inferior to anything the west has come up with in theory or practice.

        I responded to your questions but I guess the post was too long to be published

        • Religious fundamentalism of the sort you espouse is totalitarian and incompatible with basic human rights.

    • Ashraf,

      If I could add one thing, Westerners say they are concerned with theocracy but they really are not. It is a lie and it is understandable that someone might believe that lie because they say it so often. But you’ll understand the Western position on governments in the Middle East much better once you see past it.

      To Westerners both “theocracy” and “like Iran” mean hostile to Israel, and because the US is committed to Israel, for Westerners that necessarily implies hostile to the US.

      Saudi Arabia, for example, is a real theocracy. You’ll very rarely, almost never, see an expression of concern about Saudi Arabia’s internal policies in Western commentary.

      Westerners are simply not concerned about whether Egyptians are ruled by Sharia law, much less whether or not there is a bill of rights in Egypt. We’ve seen the Mubarak dictatorship that Juan Cole a year ago described as “unproblematic for the US”. Westerners are concerned that Egypt will pose a threat to Israel.

      If it does, Westerners are prepared to call Egypt a repressive dictatorship no matter how fair its elections actually are or what freedoms are afforded to its citizens.

      The United States and the West will oppose Egypt if and only if Egypt develops into a threat to Israel. Then they will lie and say this opposition is based on “theocracy” or “rights” or “repression”.

      Westerners cannot just say “we oppose any government of any type that does not accept Israel” because that statement would contradict deeply held core Western ideals. But that statement is true, so Westerners lie, first to themselves and then to non-Westerners.

      Hezbollah, for example barely has a veto in a Lebanese political process that is heavily weighted against Shiites. Westerners present Lebanon, Lebanon, as a repressive dictatorship. While ignoring, for example, Jordan.

      It’s a game. You can play if you want. But if you don’t want to play, it is very safe to ignore any Western feigned concern for “sharia” or “theocracy” or “rights” in the greater Middle East.

      • Anybody want to take a crack at laying out why “Sharia Law” is so anathematic. I mean, as opposed to tribal customs and “punishment” that overlie the little I know of “Sharia Law?” And “Well, EVERYbody knows that…” is not an answer of substance. Why some people are so dumb-blind as to let their buttons be pushed by manipulators of the “conservative” stripe, who mostly seem to believe that in THEIR personal idea of what constitutes proper jurisprudence, that seems to include so many of those things they claim are part of “Sharia Law?”

      • No, most of America’s staunchest allies in the region (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain) are extremely hostile to Israel. Yet we call them “moderate” and “reform-minded” states. This contradicts you argument. No, the issue is not Israel, per say; it is hostility to American interests, broadly defined, that US policymakers are concerned about. That Israel is part of the package is not under doubt, but it’s only one of our interests in the region. It is not the trump card.

        • Juan Cole:

          Mubarak didn’t have an especially good record of empowering women or Copts. Bahrain grants no political power to the _majority_ ethnic group, to say nothing of minority rights.

          All of a sudden, with the prospect of representative government, Westerners are acting concerned with “human rights” in Egypt. And the strategy for protecting these human rights is for the previous dictatorship, which follows US instructions regarding Israel, to effectively remain in power. Supposedly just in case an elected government might not protect these rights. (Not as well as Mubarak? Not as well as the Saudi or Jordanian dictatorships?)

          And while the pro-US dictatorship is supposedly “protecting human rights”, it will just so happen also to be continuing to follow US instructions regarding Israel.

          Seriously that position is an insult to our intelligence.

          MRK:

          No, you are very wrong if you think Saudi Arabia or Jordan is effectively hostile at all against Israel.

          An accountable Republic of Arabia that was responsive to its voters would be far more of a threat to Israel than Iran is because it has a lot more cash and is a lot closer to Israel (and is an Arab country and a largely Sunni country).

          The reason Saudi Arabia does not acquire legal nuclear weapons capability the way Brazil, Japan and many other countries have, and the way Iran is attempting, is because Israel doesn’t want Saudi Arabia to have it. The United States on Israel’s behalf has communicated a desire to the Saudi government that it not acquire these technologies and the Saudi government is accountable to the US government more than to any domestic constituency and so follows US instructions.

          Saudi Arabia spends more on its military than Israel and Iran put together (I think twofold). The United States is openly committed to Israel being militarily dominant over all of its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia. No independent country would tolerate the US with a commitment to the country the people of Saudi Arabia consider the biggest threat to their country having the relationship the US does with the Saudi government.

          Israel’s long-term viability is doubtful without what effectively are colonial-style dictatorships in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, UAE and others. Westerners who support Zionism ultimately must, in some form or other, support those dictatorships.

        • You don’t sound to me like you’ve ever been to Egypt or met any educated Egyptian women.

      • Arnold:

        Yes I agree this helps to understand the motives of some, not necessarily Prof. Cole of course. BTW, Saudi Arabia is not a theocracy either but certainly their implementation of Islam is more prevalent than most Muslim societies. It is actually a marriage between the House of Saud (the ruling class) and the religious scholars and descendants of Mohammed Ibn Abdul Wahhab. The scholars legitimize the rule of the House of Saud and the House of Saud applies shari’ah on the weak and the poor and allow the scholars to propagate their teachings.

    • What´s wrong with Sharia serving as a law is simply that it´s subject to interpretation, as all religious rules are. Read about the quakers and the restoration, we´ve had it all in Europe centuries ago, or read Shirin Ebadi, if you like: a religious text is not suited to serve as a sole basis for legislation, because where it´s perfectly clear for the individual what the text tells him or her, the concrete conclusion varies from one person to another. Everything is “in the book” if you search for it, if this is the sole basis for legislation, what you get is the rule of despotism and the only interesting question it boils down is who will be the despot.
      In Saudia Arabia, that´s pretty clear – in Iran, it is, too – so whether you call a state a theocracy or not, the difference is minimal and certainly not what people had in mind when they were calling for one.
      Sad truth remains, whatever is obviously right to me might not appeal the same way to my neighbor, even when it comes down to morality (and all people want the world to be a morally intact place!). Plurality is not about laissez faire, it´s about differences in personal views.

      Once more, the difference between Saudi Arabia (monarchy without constitution) and Morocco (monarchy with one) is far greater then the difference between Saudi Arabia and Iran – the latter being the rule of the strongest which is simply Neanderthal. That´s precicely what you need a constitution for and why you can´t do with Sharia alone.

  6. The real fear should not be what the MB does, but what the US and Israel do. They’ve spent years training their publics to hate and fear groups like Hamas, but all the Moslem Brotherhood needed to do to be hated was choose its name. Will the MB kill as many people as a “pre-emptive” attack by Israel will? Or US sanctions?

    And now all of us who support the ongoing Arab revolution will get smeared and slandered by the vast zombie army of Islamophobic idiots found on the Internet, in the corporate media, in the pulpits, in every level of elected government, and in our own workplaces.

    But that was inevitable. Egyptians were never gonna act white enough to make our lynch mob happy.

  7. What perplexes me the most about the view of this post is that Mr. Cole seems to be almost wishing that the military thwart any chance of an Islamic government to be instituted in Egypt.

    If these are the views of the more liberal currents within the West, what can we expect from those who hate Islam to the core?

    Concerning the “human rights problems”, Islam definitely has a very different view from the non-Muslim ideologies on what constitutes “human rights” and what does not. If we Muslims wish to abide by these (and we should without question) I do not see why anyone should attack us for this.

    • I am not advocating military power or intervention and quite clearly criticized it. But we can’t ignore the fact of it.

      Human rights are challenging for each civilization. Americans like to execute people, e.g.

      You don’t get off the hook by claiming your culture or religion requires you to interfere with peoples’ human rights.

      • What about the rights of people to live in a moral society? Why can’t people be allowed to build a society that does not include lewdness and vice? What about allowing us to protect our religion? Are you against this Professor Cole?

        • Do as you please personally, but you don’t have a right to impose your morality on other people. Rick Santorum thinks your sharia is immoral and wants to outlaw it. Once you start letting human rights be interfered with to achieve a moral society, you end up with morals police and repressed religious minorities.

        • Yusef,

          Why can’t people be allowed to build a society that does not include lewdness and vice?

          Because human beings are human beings, and to create a society without lewdness and vice would require a police state, complete with informants, torture chambers, heavy-handed suppression of dissent, and all of the other accessories of those states that saw it as their right and duty to create utopia by force.

  8. Most Egyptians are concerned about their personal security and economic survival. They don’t care whether or not alcohol or bikinis are banned. And they don’t care what their government’s policy toward Israel is. I can’t believe that poor Egyptians are as obsessed with Israel as Leftist intellectuals are. When you’re trying to make ends meet, you don’t spend you’re time playing geo-political mind-games.
    I think most people would like to live in a relatively free society, with certain rights guranteed. But if most Egyptians don’t care if adulterers or gays are stoned, that does not in any way make it acceptable. Individual liberty is not a uniquely Western value. If the majority wants to imprison all persons who wear shorts, than the will of the people should be opposed. If Westerners lie when they say they’re concerned with theocracy, that has no bearing on whether or not decent people should be concerned with theocracy. All sides that play geopolitics use human rights and freedom in a selective, self-serving way. But some human-rights groups, for example, will criticize America, Iran, Israel, Turkey, South Korea, Cuba, etc. If you care about people, you can’t pledge your allegiance to a flag, a leader, an ideology, the West, the East, the South, or the North.

  9. It seems to me that when Western liberal/progressives view that when the “masses” become mobilized anywhere in the world and overthrow the existing system, they will inevitably work to set up a Scandinavian-style Social Democratic regime, unless thwarted by outside forces. Thus, I heard people saying that it just must be that the Muslim Brotherhood is “really” for a secular, democratic regime, with maybe slightly more funds set aside for religious education and services and, more quietly, having a few MB activists appointed as CEO’s of the numerous companies the Egyptian Army controls. In otherwords, it is believed that that they will maintain the current secular system and just run in more efficiently and fairly.
    I think this is a mistaken view. Although it has been pointed out the major differences between Egyptian and Iranian Islam, it is important to note something I heard that Ayatollah Khomeini said which was “anyone who thinks the purpose of the Islamic Revolution is just to make watermelon cheaper doesn’t have any understanding about what the Revolution is really about”.
    I think the same applies to the MB. From what I understand, they believe a just society can only arise from an Islamically righteous society. A secular society can not be just. Only believing Muslims are capable of setting up a socially just society. Thus, I think it is reasonable to assueme that the MB DOES intend to make Egyptian society more religiously righteous. Of course, this does not mean that they necessarily intend to set-up an Iranian-style theocratic dictatorship. They may feel that they have to go slow, that they have to take current secular sentiment into account, but I don’t think they view themselves as being like German Christian Democrats in accepting modern secular society as it is and keeping it going indefinitely in Egypt. I believe that they do intend to implement some sort of Cultural Revolution over time.

    • So what?

      Whatever Egypt’s voters come up with is guaranteed to be better than the Mubarak dictatorship the US supported for 30 years.

      It is guaranteed to be better than the Saudi dictatorship that the US supports right now, with no criticism from mainstream Western commentators.

      Why now is it some problem that Egyptians aren’t governed by the government of Sweden? Why would they ever be? Why should they be?

      The US should stop supporting the Egyptian military if the Egyptian military continues to obstruct putting full control of policy into elected civilian hands. The US won’t do that but that’s what it should do by the US’ own values.

      If Egyptians don’t elect the Swedish legislature, that is fully within their rights.

      • Whatever Egypt’s voters come up with is guaranteed to be better than the Mubarak dictatorship the US supported for 30 years.

        It is guaranteed to be better than the Saudi dictatorship that the US supports right now, with no criticism from mainstream Western commentators.

        This comment sounds identical to the Iraq hawks circa 2002. “It can’t be worse than Saddam!”

        Wanna bet? “It can’t get worse” is always wrong. It certainly can get worse. Read some history.

        • That’s silly. The difference between 2002 proponents of invading Iraq and me is that I’m not calling for an invasion.

          If it’s identical other than that, then it’s still closer to the opposite than the same thing.

  10. subservience to and obedience to Israel is the only thing that matters to the American State, as far as Egypt is concerned. it’s been that way for 50 years now. i doubt this will change any time soon. just reading about how Sesame Street, Palestinian style, is in trouble due to Palestinians standing up for their rights at the UN.

    imagine what the blowback would be if Egypt were to ever question Israel’s occupation of Palestine or change some of the things Mubarak sold Egypt out for in exchange of American money. that is a real danger exposed by the Arab Spring.

    Saudi Arabia funds the terrorists, like Pakistan, and is ruled by the fundamenatlist Wahabbist, just like America is ruled by the Evangelical Christians/aka the Republican party. No one in America dares say anything about the Saudis due to OIL. focus on Iran and change the conversation should anyone dare criticize the Saudis. just the way it is.

    the fear of the Muslim Brotherhood is the “hope” of the Right wingers have here in American and i gather in Israel. The hope that Egypt will “contain” the evil fundamentalists/MB is what American Politicians are counting on the Egyptian military to do. Control the MB or you’ll pay, just like the Palestinians are now, through the blackmailing over Sesame Street.

    We don’t have freedom here in America anymore, so i wouldn’t be too surprised to see the Arab Spring “wilt” if the Elite in America has any say. Power works to keep itself in power, whether here in Israel, America or Egypt.

    Hope springs eternal despite the efforts of the Elites to hold people down.
    Best of luck to the Egyptians, you have quite a fight on your hands.

  11. Hi.
    My 5 cents:

    1.) I believe that the American-Israeli relationship is beginning to crack. Not only have Netanyahu’s policies been pushing the Obama administration to re-evaluate its game plan in that region, but also because a very heated discussion is going on to start a war in Iran to defend Israeli interests. Americans don’t want another Iraq, and many Americans now realize that a war with Iran would mainly occur to defend Israeli interests.

    Additionally, a number of Israelis have widely been promoting propoganda to “end the apartheid nonsense” as well because so many people have started calling Israel an apartheid state (like Prof. Cole’s latest book for instance). AIPAC’s influence in congress is clearly decreasing.

    2.) I agree with Prof. Cole that calling a government “secular” is the right way to go. Agree with this or not, but Islam has probably split into too many sects at this point for a theocracy or sharia law to fairly represent different sects of Muslims. For instance, many Alawis in Syria (one famous Alawi- Syrian President Assad) don’t believe that the five daily prayers in Islam are mandated. But look back for instance to 2006, when fundamentalists in Mogadishu tried to instate religion in the city.

    According to ABC News, Sheikh Abdalla Ali, who ran a shariah court in Mogadishu, said, “He who does not perform prayer will be considered as infidel and our sharia law orders that person to be killed.”

    I also remember reading in the American press several years ago that those who did not pray 5 times a day would be executed in Mogadishu by fundamentalists.

    Thus, a religious consensus is not really applicable. In my shariah at home for instance, it says that women should not attend school. If women were not to be properly educated, then realistically, how much could Islam have spread as well? Much of Islam was actually said to spread off the wealth of Khadjia (RA), the first wife of Muhammad (PBUH), who was so ridiculously rich from her business that she played a role of a HUGE catalyst in the spread of Islam.
    Thus, a theocracy is definitely not in the best of interests of most Muslim nations.

    3.) To get back to the point of this article, I agree with Professor Cole that Egypt’s not about to turn into an Iran anytime soon. Here you have a nation where so many THOUSANDS of people have died and watched thousands die as well in hopes of a democracy, freedom, and at last, justice. The Muslim Brotherhood has a LOT to deliver on; they have seen the lethal passion of the Egyptian people- going for over a year now- and they have high pressure to deliver, along with the rest of the people in the Egyptian government.
    The US has actually reached out the to Muslim Brotherhood and is doing that a lot more now, and vice versa; both countries really need each other. Despite Washington’s ailing relationship with Israel, Washington needs to ensure Israel still has a major friend like Egypt in the Middle East. Washington also knows that Egypt holds a major voice in worldly affairs as well (Egypt’s very well-known), and so Washington would want to ensure a voice in the Egyptian future.

    Somewhat likewise, the MB really needs support from Washington, both financial and also verbal. The MB needs to win the support of its people and Egypt’s in total chaos right now- the economy’s literally in shambles, and people are incredibly depressed (too many deaths), incredibly agitated from this ordeal, and inspiringly passionate. The MB REALLY has to deliver. They would ideally try to get quite a bit of aid from the US and its allies, and it probably won’t try to break relations with Israel (at least for right now) anytime soon, or hurt minority or women rights because they really need to appease the general public at large, and by becoming a horrendous theocracy-which a lot of people fear it might become- it knows that it could never remain in Egyptian politics for long. Bernard says before me that “Power works to keep itself in power” which is totally true; the MB should not be making any stupid mistakes, at least not so quickly.

    Also Professor Cole, you do make a lot of good points above, but I believe economic reasons- like retaining tourism- will be the ultimate deciding factor for most of the Muslim Brotherhood and other government officials’ decisions.

    I also believe that by having the title “Muslim Brotherhood” the MB will at least always have the facade of having Muslim interests at heart, when in reality, it can really do much of anything with this title, because who’s seriously going to question the Muslimness of the Muslim Brotherhood so quickly?

    • Gee, why would Any Sane Person compare the conditions in Israel at present to what used to exist in South Africa in the Good Old Days?

      link to haaretz.com

      link to thirdworldtraveler.com

      link to guardian.co.uk

      It’s too bad that our global mental models, for the mass of us, based on the notion of Nations, so conveniently obscure the reality that across the human population there are the Netanyahoos and Ahmadinejads and a small but likely fatal host of other people, including so many that rise in and profit from the whole global military-hardware-software industry (where “commonality” and “interoperability” are the buzzwords that hide wht should be a scary momentum) and the little and large masters of Big-Lie-ism and tribal button-pushing. People that sure seem to me to constitute not the political pinnacles of individual nations, but rather a set unto themselves, interdependent, “interoperable,” and tied by greed and the love of power over the great mass of actually productive humans.

      But that’s just me, of course…

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