Saturday, January 29, 2011

Egypt and the eclipse of the Muslim Brotherhood

January 28, 2011

Western analysts and policy-makers have long argued that in most Middle Eastern countries Islamists, and in particular the Muslim Brotherhood, constitute ‘the only real opposition’ to ruling regimes. Recent and ongoing events in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere suggest that this analysis may have been mistaken. The popular revolts have erupted across the Middle East that are grassroots, largely leaderless movements composed of a broad cross-section of society protesting against dictatorship, corruption and poverty. These movements appear to be largely secular. The protestors have, as far as can be judged at present, not only bypassed Islamist organisational structures but have also adopted hardly any of the Islamists’ policies, slogans or ideologies, demanding instead only more jobs, cheaper food, political freedom and accountable government and an end to repression.
Although protests across the region are still ongoing it is possible to draw some early conclusions. Through looking at unfolding events in Egypt, this briefing paper aims therefore to explain this emerging trend and to highlight some potential implications for western policy-makers.