Can We Predict the Path of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt?

CANDID VIEW: Eric Trager of the Council on Foreign Relations has published an op-Ed on the long-term strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Our own Kate Nour had this response:

It is the work of IR theorist and policy makers to draw conclusions, make predictions and speculate to the best of their ability. But is the case of Egypt, attempting to predict outcomes with any guise of surety or authority is an entirely futile project. NO-ONE can predict the impact of these recent elections or the transition of the Muslim Brotherhood in these affairs. It could develop any number of ways, depending on a whole host of variables. You get the distinct impression even those intimately involved in the processes are similarly unsure of how things will develop, that everyone is still playing it by ear a little. Looking at the facts as they stand however, the fears of many – that the success of the Muslim Brotherhood would lead to new hardline national policies in relation to Israel, the private sector and minority religious communities – dont seem to have eventuated. Whether they remain the long term objectives remains to be seen.

Egypt’s modern history reads as that of a few oversized individuals – Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak. Mursi represents a break in this tradition and not only for the type of government he could lead. As an individual, he is something of an unknown quantity. Little is known about his personality or preferences and his training and education is understood as well rounded and moderate. He has been accused of lacking charisma and the necessary strength to unite dissident voices and restore order to the nation. This too, remains to be seen. Room for Mursi to develop as a leader and the nature of his interactions with the powerful military establishment may be the single most important factor in political developments. Mursis powers are severely limited by the military establishment and any provocation could serve as a pretext for these forces to dissolve the elected parliament and any electoral advantages the Brotherhood has gained in the process. The type of big personality leadership Egyptians have known for decades might not be an option, even if Mursi were inclined to develop his rule in this manner. What is seen as a lack of presence could actually be read as a politically astute decision.

Kate Nour finished her internship with the AIIA NSW in July and is currently finishing her Honors thesis at the University of New South Wales. You can see more of Kate here discussing Hezbollah: militarism and politics.


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