News / Middle East

    Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood at the Crossroads

    A poster of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi lies amid debris of a cleared protest camp of his supporters in Cairo, Aug. 15, 2013.
    A poster of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi lies amid debris of a cleared protest camp of his supporters in Cairo, Aug. 15, 2013.
    Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is facing is facing a stark choice following the military’s violent crackdown on the group and the arrest of its leaders, according to according to Egyptian and American Middle East analysts.
     
    The Brotherhood can either adopt a non-violent approach and bide its time until there are new elections, the analysts say, or it can turn to militant confrontation, possibly even the violent path of al-Qaida and other jihadist groups.
     
    Much of the debate over the future direction of political Islam in Egypt is being played out online. Jihadists, led by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, argue that violence is the only way to establish a truly Islamic state, while mainstream Islamists counter that Turkey is the better model to follow.
     
    “Eventually, this illegal and illegitimate military regime in Egypt will pass, and the country will, once again, go to the ballots. Then, the Brotherhood, perhaps with a new political party and new faces, will have a chance to compete,” argues Turkish newspaper columnist Mustafa Akyol.
     
    He points out that Turkish Islamists responded this way in 1997 when the army forced out an Islamist government in Ankara. Instead of violent confrontation, Turkey’s Islamists responded with restraint and remade themselves by launching a “renewal movement” and forming a new political party.
     
    But the situation in Egypt is developing along different lines and analysts say the ongoing violence has handed the jihadists an opportunity to advance their agenda. And al-Qaida leaders, they note, have wasted no time in their courting of Egyptian Islamists.
     
    Following the military’s ouster of president Mohammed Morsi last month, Zawahiri posted a 15-minute message on militant websites arguing “the crusaders” in the West and their allies in the Arab world will never allow the establishment of an Islamist state. The Egyptian-born Zawahiri urged “the soldiers of the Qur'an to wage the battle of the Qur'an” in Egypt.
     
    Social media offensive
     
    Since then, a social media offensive has gathered momentum. It included jihadi groups ranging from the Taliban in Afghanistan to al-Qaida affiliates in North Africa and the Horn of Africa Eager to exploit the unrest as a recruiting tool. The online offensive has grown into a powerful chorus on Twitter, Facebook and online forums, condemning Morsi's overthrow and arguing the West has colluded with the Egyptian military in an attack against Islam.
     
    “If ever there's a ripe moment 2 support al-Qaida, it's surely now. Raising the flag in Egypt in now a priority, Insha'Allah!” the Kenyan offshoot of Somalia's al-Qaida affiliate, al Shabaab, declared on its Twitter feed.
     
    Abu Hafs al Maqdisi, the leader of the Gaza-based Jaish al Ummah (Army of the Nation), urged Egyptians to wage “jihad” on General Abdul Fattah el-Sissi, the army chief and Egypt’s de-facto leader.
     
    Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is calling on Egyptian Islamists to choose the path of jihad. Photo: AP/IntelCenterAl-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is calling on Egyptian Islamists to choose the path of jihad. Photo: AP/IntelCenter
    x
    Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is calling on Egyptian Islamists to choose the path of jihad. Photo: AP/IntelCenter
    Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is calling on Egyptian Islamists to choose the path of jihad. Photo: AP/IntelCenter
    Morsi’s ouster and military crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood has been “without question, a godsend for al-Qaida,” argues Jonathan Schanzer, a Middle East scholar at the Washington, D.C.–based think tank, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
     
     
    “This is perceived as a repression of Muslims -- by the United States, among others -- which is one of al-Qaida’s favorite talking points,” Schanzer said. “Also, let's not forget that there are multiple al-Qaida affiliate groups running around Africa right now, just looking for a cause.  I'm particularly intrigued by the jihadi groups in Sinai, who are now looking to open up a front with both Egypt and Israel. This is a dream scenario for jihadists.”
     
     
    According to U.S. intelligence sources, contacts have increased in recent months between al-Qaida-linked jihadists and more localized Salafist groups in Sinai and the Egyptian Delta region.
     
    Which path Egyptian Islamists eventually choose – the way of jihad or waiting for new elections – isn’t clear yet.
     
    Brotherhood says it will opt for peaceful approach
     
    On Tuesday, a member of the Brotherhood’s political party insisted the group would not take up arms.
     
    “Our only option is the peaceful method,” Khaled Hanafi, secretary-general of the Freedom and Justice Party, told reporters.
     
    Schanzer, however, argues that despite any peaceful declarations, the Muslim Brotherhood has already turned violent.
     
    “Burning churches and firing automatic weaponry at army and civilians alike -- that's violence,” Schanzer said. “The question is whether the Brotherhood launches a systematic campaign of violence. Nobody knows the answer to this.”
     
    One of the biggest fears is that with Brotherhood leaders being jailed and no longer in control, the group will be unable to restrain younger members gravitating toward the jihadists. One militant who is getting a lot of attention these days is Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, who argued in an online essay recently that events in Egypt “demonstrate the soundness of the jihadi project and the choice of the ammunition box over the ballot box."
     
    Bruce Riedel, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, is pessimistic.
     
    “The coup has validated the al-Qaida narrative, which argues elections are a false path to change, only jihad works,” Riedel said. “Thousands of Ikhwanis [Muslim Brothers] will now move to support violence. The Muslim Brotherhood leadership can either join them or lose their constituency.”

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: ibrahim ssa from: KSA
    August 21, 2013 7:39 AM
    as one of brotherhood group, i think we become more mutor to involved in such violence, the egyption army wants us to do so but we won't. “Our only option is the peaceful method,”

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora