Arabic media review

Muslim Brotherhood starts to splinter

In wake of movement’s political collapse, a wave of loyalists vow to oust the old guard

Michael Bassin is a founding member of the Gulf-Israel Business Council, a co-founder at ScaleUpSales Ltd, and the author of "I Am Not a Spy: An American Jew Goes Deep In The Arab World & Israeli Army."

Supporters of the ousted President Mohammed Morsi demonstrate in Nasr City, a suburb of Cairo, Egypt, on Monday, July 8, 2013. (photo credit/Nasser Shiyoukhi/AP)
Supporters of the ousted President Mohammed Morsi demonstrate in Nasr City, a suburb of Cairo, Egypt, on Monday, July 8, 2013. (photo credit/Nasser Shiyoukhi/AP)

The Muslim Brotherhood’s complete loss of political power and the Egyptian military’s sweeping crackdown on its activities has prompted a group of 500 activists from within the movement to demand major internal leadership change, Arab media report Thursday.

The Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al-Awsat, a paper known for its anti-Muslim Brotherhood leanings, explains that a new wing of the Muslim Brotherhood calling itself the “Brotherhood without violence” has withdrawn confidence from the group’s official “Guidance Bureau,” led by Mohammed Badie.

Since the military’s brutal shooting of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in front of the Republican Guard headquarters on Sunday afternoon, many Islamists have called for revenge. For the past 12 days, hundreds of Brotherhood loyalists have led an anti-government sit-in in front of the Raba El-Adwiya mosque in an eastern Cairo suburb. Reports state that due to the sweltering summer heat and the Ramadan fast, the sit-in has become the site of ghastly skin diseases and overwhelming stenches.

These rebellious Brotherhood members have begun collecting signatures to show support for ousting the movement’s leadership. Meetings between the group’s leaders and the dissenters saw sharp altercations on Wednesday evening as accusations were made that the current leadership has no idea how to manage the current political crisis.

According to the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, the onset of Ramadan has only exasperated the stress plaguing Muslim Brotherhood supporters. While Ramadan is normally a time of great anticipation, joy, and reflection, the Egyptian people are now plagued by polarization, anxiety, and depression. Many Egyptians are quite literally praying that the country’s new leadership finds a way to reconcile with members of the ousted Morsi demonstration to prevent extreme chaos.

The Doha-based media channel Al-Jazeera notes that in the coming days more pro-Morsi marches and rallies are expected to be held across the country. Morsi’s supporters at the sit-in at the Raba El-Adwiya mosque promise not to leave their squalid squatting spot until the former president is returned to office.

Meanwhile, newly appointed President Adly Mansour and his military backers are biding their time to see how the situation unfolds. Their leadership has already managed to halt Egypt’s economic freefall with the promise of $8 billion in grants and loans from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, two nations with little empathy for Islamists. The London-based daily Al-Hayat reports that on Wednesday the Kuwaiti government pledged an additional $4 billion in aid to Egypt.

Despite this badly needed cash injection, Egypt may now be in danger of losing the support of one of its strongest traditional allies, the United States. The Dubai-based media channel Al-Arabiya explains that following the military’s brutal actions against Muslim Brotherhood-supporting Egyptian civilians, President Barack Obama has finally called for a review of all US aid to Egypt.

“Given the events of the past week, the President ordered our government agencies and departments to begin a full review of our assistance to the Egyptian government,” a Pentagon press release stated.

Egypt currently receives about $1.3 billion in aid every year from the US government, most of which goes to propping up its military. According to American law, aid to a country must cease if it undergoes a military coup. Thus far, Obama has stopped short of defining the Egyptian military’s actions against the Morsi administration.

Even some leading Arab editorialists who are not supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood fear that what Egyptian military has done will provoke chaos in the country for many years to come.

“The Brotherhood turned Egypt, a country with a glorious seven-thousand year civilization and the undisputed leader of the Arab world, into the region’s poorest state,” laments Huda al-Husseini in an Op-Ed in A-Sharq Al-Awsat. “But the true effects of their overthrow will show that the military’s actions against it were not for the good of the country. The current instability will create a security vacuum in Egypt for a very long time.”

“What has happened in Egypt is a blessing for supporters of Al-Qaeda and the radical Salafists. Their extremist ideology has been given new injection of energy because of Morsi’s overthrow.”

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