Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood

04 April 2012

EFD Senior Fellow Valentina Colombo is interviewed on Russian radio. Below is a transcript of the interview; you can also listen to the broadcast here.

How do you explain their change of tactics, I mean why the U-turn?

It is normal. If you know them, they are double speech people. So, at first, during the first elections for the Parliament they were just saying – ok, we are running for the Parliament but we are not going to ask any more because we want a true democracy, we want to calm down everybody, not only Egyptians but even people from abroad too. And so they said this and they even fired one of them who said – I’m going to run for the presidential elections - Aboul Fotouh.

Of course now the Speaker of the Parliament is one of them – Katami. The same person – Katami, the Speaker of the Parliament who is in the Muslim Brotherhood has just been appointed the President of the Assembly for the Constituents to draft the constitution of Egypt. So, they have got two very important positions taken by the same person belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. And now they are running with their number two - this is the Vice-Supreme Guide – for the presidency. And so, they are going to make a very big strike because we do not know whether he is going to win or not but he is a very rich person, he is a very important person inside the Brotherhood and if we think that the Muslim Brotherhood got in the last elections – the parliamentary ones – 47% of votes so they are likely to win.

So, we are going to have Egypt owned and ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood. And this candidate for presidency, he has got a wonderful wife with her face covered and so we are going to pass from a very secular Mubarak regime to a very Islamic.

Valentina, but as far as I understand decision caused a lot of controversy even within the Muslim Brotherhood?

Yes, because there are some who say – we do not like him, we do not like this man al-Shatir. And of course there is another person running for the presidency, the one who was fired - Aboul Fotouh. And running for presidency there is even a Salafi person Abu-Ismail who is already inside the Parliament. So, some analysts say – ok, we’ve got many candidates from the Islamist side so maybe the vote is going to be split in favour of somebody else which is Amr Moussa – the former Secretary General of the Arab League. But I don’t know whether Egyptians are ready to vote for a person like Amr Moussa. Amr Moussa is secular but he is very close to the Muslim Brotherhoodand in any case Egypt is going to be run by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Valentina, and what is the position of the military?

The decision of the Muslim Brotherhood to present a candidate of their own was explained by the Supreme Guide as a way to go against the military because they said the military wants to dissolve the Parliament because as the Muslim Brotherhood say the new Parliament, in which they are a majority, is not up to the duty they have. So, there is a kind of controversy between the Muslim Brotherhood and military. Of course the military, now they are in power but on June 30 they are going to leave and they do not want to leave. So, it is only a matter of power and of course the military say – we are here, we are taking care of the security and so we want to stay here. But they usually, apart from what we see from the outside of the official communication, the official press releases, they usually get along very well with the Muslim Brotherhood. So, everything goes around them.

Yes, in fact you took it out of my mouth. The early days of the Arab Spring revolutions, I remember some experts were telling me that in fact the level of penetration of the Muslim Brotherhood within the military is quite high.

The level of penetration of the Muslim Brotherhood everywhere in Egypt is very high. They are all over – they are in the military, they are in the schools, they are in the mosques, all of them are run by the Muslim Brotherhood. So, they are all over and mainly in the lowest levels of the society. The problem comes from the past as well because Mubarak outlawed them but at the same time he tolerated them. Even during the Mubarak regime the Muslim Brotherhood was there, could work and they work very, very well. They are really wonderful, I never agreed with their ideas, their aims and goals but at the same time I cannot say that they aren’t good. They have a perfect organization, they are full of money and they are much better organized than the liberals or the other sides of Egyptian politics and Arab politics anyway.

So, just to sum it up. If you remember in one of our recent interviews you were telling me that the Muslim Brotherhood comes to power in many Arab Spring countries including Tunisia, including Morocco and other countries in the region. So, do I get it right that we are still witnessing the process of the Muslim Brotherhood system coming to power in the whole of the Arab Spring region, to put that way?

Yes, many declarations coming from the high levels of the Muslim Brotherhood are saying that 2013 will be the year of the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Gulf for instance. We don’t have to forget that if Syrian regime fails of course the Muslim Brotherhood will do their best to be there and they are there because there is the Muslim Brotherhood alliance inside the National Syrian Council, and they are the majority there. So, they are still just waiting. As soon as the regime fall they are there and they are organized, and now they are recognized all over – they are recognized by the West, they are recognized by the US and Europe. So, why not – they are there, they are organized. The people for instance in Syria are just like in Tunisia. They are the people who went into exile to Europe and to the States because they were chased by the regime, they are the victims and so they are now allowed to go back and to be paid back.