Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Muslim Brotherhood make friends with El Baradie

Egypt has witnessed an unexpected development in the last few weeks with the coming together of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammed El Baradie. There are a number of factors to consider regarding this somewhat unexpected recent partnership:

> El Baradie has been eager to tap into the religious section of the Egyptian population and this has been emphasised by his regular visits to a number of local mosques and his meetings with religious clerics.

> The former IAEA director general has alienated himself from the secular opposition because of his constant criticism of them and he has therefore making more enemies than friends in the Egyptian political circles.

> The National Coalition for Change (NAC), which was formed by El Baradie, endeavoured to collect over one million signatures in support of the coalition reforms agenda; however this has been made difficult by NAC's lack of popularity and street credibility.

> The MB, have always aimed to be seen as a viable political group, and by aligning themselves with El Baradie it will finally give them the limelight which they have always sought.

> In addition the MB’s new leadership has been accused of political aggression by those outside as well as inside the movement, which has put pressure on its leaders to give the movement a more defined and clear political direction. As a result, an alliance with El Baradie gives the MB a more structured political agenda, and an image of a politically progressive group.

> Most importantly, the MB failed to secure a seat in the recent Shura Council elections which it blamed on the state for impeding its candidates so its affiliation with El Baradie is also a show of resentment towards the regime.

While the allegence seems strong, the MB have, however, declined to comment on whether they will support El Baradie if he chooses to stand in the 2011 presidential elections.

This alliance has led to a lot of criticism from the secular opposition, who accused El Baradie of sacrificing his political ideals for the sake of convenience and shameless courting of controversy. The MB has equally received criticism primarily from the Salafi movement, who have accused the Brotherhood of violating Islamic principles on the basis of their allegiance with El Baradie.

Neither the MB or El Baradie seem to pay much heed to the criticism and they that their alliance will further their respective political agendas. This has, once again, brought to the surface the fragmented nature of Egyptian politics and the the inual party shifts from alliance to alliance for the sake of political ambition. It has also been detrimental to the overall structure of the Egyptian political system which has always seen the secular political parties acting more like fan clubs for leading politicians rather than parties with well defined and clear ideologies

This post was written by our correspondent in Cairo,Dr Mohammed Zahid, who is also the editor of Egypt Politics & Security.

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