January 27, 2014:
In Egypt the Moslem Brotherhood is again fighting to survive. After forming a government they dominated in 2012, the Moslem Brotherhood proceeded to turn most Egyptians against them because the Moslem Brotherhood leadership paid too little attention to making Egypt work and too much attention to Moslem Brotherhood politics.
Thus the Moslem Brotherhood failed once more to create an Islamic Egypt that the movements’ founders began working towards back in the 1920s. The basic idea behind the Moslem Brotherhood, to use Islamic law to form an Egyptian free of corruption and oppression, has always appealed to many Egyptians (rich and poor) who were fed up with the sorry state of Egyptian culture.
The Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood was deposed by the July 2013 coup in part because it did not have the support of Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Gulf states. This is sad, because the Moslem Brotherhood was given shelter in Saudi Arabia when it was driven from Egypt (for trying to overthrow the secular government) in the 1960s. But once in Saudi Arabia the Moslem Brotherhood began plotting to overthrow the Saudi monarchy because it was not Islamic enough. That ended badly and most Saudis have not forgotten. Although the Saudis initially supported the new Moslem Brotherhood government with massive loans and grants, that soon changed when the Brotherhood got cozy with Iran. That offended most Egyptians as well as most people in Arabia. When the Moslem Brotherhood began acting like it did while in exile in Saudi Arabia half a century ago the Saudis concluded that the Moslem Brotherhood had not really changed.
This is ironic because Saudi Arabia has long supported Islamic conservative groups. Yet the Saudis came out against the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt in 2013 and against al Qaeda in the 1980s. At the same time the Saudis have no problem supporting Islamic radicals in Syria, including some who belong to al Qaeda. What is going on here? It’s simple. The Saud family has always supported Islamic radicals, but only those who agreed that the Saud family should be in charge (of Saudi Arabia and as a leader of the Islamic world). Islamic radicals that changed their minds about this arrangement were crushed. Thus the Saudis supported al Qaeda until al Qaeda decided that the Sauds were not Islamic enough to be in charge. That led to a dispute in the 1990s that escalated in 2003 and, so far, the Sauds are winning. The Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt has always been hostile to the Sauds and that has been reciprocated. This was made worse by the fact that the current head of al Qaeda was once a leader in the Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood.
It was long believed by many in the West that the Moslem Brotherhood was one form of Islamic radicalism that seemed moderate enough, and international enough, to allow for widespread use in democracies. For many members of the Moslem Brotherhood that is true. Unfortunately the brotherhood has many factions and some of them are very radical and just barely tolerant of democracy. Worse yet, the first national election the Moslem Brotherhood has won was in Egypt and the moderates and radicals in the Brotherhood subsequently spent more time arguing with each other than in dealing with problems most Egyptians were concerned about (corruption and the economy).
In the 1990s the Egyptian government defeated the Moslem Brotherhood and many survivors fled Egypt and some helped found al Qaeda. Algeria finally defeated a similar movement by 2004. Syria crushed the Moslem Brotherhood in the early 1980s, after five years of violence. The Moslem Brotherhood is not invincible, but it is persistent.
The Egyptians brain trust that holds most of the senior jobs at al Qaeda Center are ever mindful of how the Moslem Brotherhood was defeated in Egypt during the 1990s. It was because too many civilians died during terrorist attacks. These Egyptians also remember how the Moslem Brotherhood was crushed partly because of the many factions within it. Some of the factions eventually made deals with the government, went legit, and sold out the more radical brothers. That has not changed either.
Most Egyptians now feel like the Saudis. Egyptians don’t mind an “Islamic” government, but they resent having archaic lifestyle rules forced on them, or Moslem Brotherhood zealots talking about how maybe democracy isn’t really Islamic. Because of that the Moslem Brotherhood is in big trouble this time because so many Egyptians are hostile to Moslem Brotherhood members and, unlike in the past, have cell phones with which to quickly tell the police what the local Islamic zealots are up to.