July 13, 2013

Why June 30th might have been a blessing for the MB

I’ve had many discussions regarding the following arguments, with people whose understanding of Egyptian politics I respect. They all disagreed with my views below.

Maybe June 30th and the removal of Morsi was more in the advantage of the MB than we might like to think. Let’s look at it this way, what June 30th did to them is the following:

Salvaging their popularity
Their year in presidency did nothing to them except erode their popularity. They tried desperately to take control of all the major government institutions and have failed miserably. From the media, to the judiciary, to the police and army, they have not been able to rein a single government agency. If anything, they’ve created enemies within those institutions that made it impossible for them to ever gain such control. This one year in power has basically eaten up their popularity without giving them any real leverage. Continuing in the presidency would have meant losing even more popularity. With Morsi’s removal, their fall will stop and today will witness the worst their image is ever going to get. They can now start working on regaining their popularity and they can capitalize on the small group of non-MB who see that the removal of Morsi was non-democratic, to rebuild some of their acceptance in the street.

Consolidating their constituency
It seems to me that the past year has taken a toll on their membership base. The level of dissatisfaction within their followers has risen tremendously. Between those who felt cheated for not getting government positions, those who felt that Morsi was not doing enough for the “Islamic Project” and those who felt that the existing leadership was driving the group into a wall, the guidance office was starting to lose control over the group. It was only a matter of time until fingers were going to start pointing to the decisions makers within the group. The ouster of Morsi gives the top leadership a chance to resell their big conspiracy theory to their followers and recast their iron fist on the organization: “Look at how everybody is against us. Look at the leftists, the US, the army, the Arab countries.” With that familiar narrative they get to huddle their members back into submission. Nothing better than a war to boost loyalty enough to eat up self-criticism.  

They get to negotiate
Morsi was going to fall by popular movement sooner or later. June 30th was eventually going to turn into full fledged civil disobedience and the MB as a group were going to get expelled by the community. Their removal by civilians would have put an end to any of their claims to power. The interference of the army gave the MB the chance to tell the whole world a very sob story. A miserable story that they will use and abuse in the coming weeks to negotiate some preferential conditions for them to rejoin the process. They could also use the removal of Morsi to call upon the support of the West in upcoming elections and eventually to try and put pressure on the army or whoever is in power then. If they can win in new elections again, nobody will be able to question their legitimacy anymore.

So, after all, it might be that the MB have benefited a lot more from the removal of Morsi than one would like to think. Whether they will be able to see those benefits and capitalize on them or not remains to be seen. 

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