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Mubarak Making Way For Terrorism
The ongoing state crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood has entered a new phase in which the confrontation between Egypt’s two main political rivals has been seriously escalating. It seems that the magnitude of this crackdown is going as far as to follow the footsteps of that of the Nasserite era which was mainly against the Muslim Brotherhood as well. In its never-ending quest to marginalize and
Wednesday, March 7,2007 00:00
by Ahmad Mansour, Ikhwanweb

The ongoing state crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood has entered a new phase in which the confrontation between Egypt’s two main political rivals has been seriously escalating. It seems that the magnitude of this crackdown is going as far as to follow the footsteps of that of the Nasserite era which was mainly against the Muslim Brotherhood as well. In its never-ending quest to marginalize and isolate the Muslim Brotherhood, the incumbent regime has abandoned its well known strategy of partial inclusion and containment as it detained more than 40 leading figures of the organization including Khayrat el Shater (2nd Chairman Deputy) and has frozen all their economic and business activities. These policies could at least be described as a backward move for democracy and human rights in a country which hasn’t witnessed serious developments in these regards for quite a long time. Moreover, the state has further escalated its oppressive campaign against the Brotherhood by completely disregarding and overlooking the latest court’s verdict to release the detainees by transferring them to the notorious “military tribunals”.

Since the Nasserite era, military courts has been notorious for their exceptional supra-constitutional status above the state’s laws and constitution as the court’s rulings aren’t based on criminal or civil laws and cannot be appealed. Since then, the regime has been using these more like “inquisition” courts to clamp down on its political rivals as no authority is above it but the head of state himself.

The regime’s resort to publicly deny Muslim Brotherhood members a fair trial is signaling a retrograde to the Nasserite strategy in dealing with the organization. During the past several months, the “regime owned” media headed by Mubarak himself unleashed an aggressive campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood accusing them for being a threat for domestic security and national interests. In 1954 and 1965 of the last century after two major crackdown campaigns against the movement accusing it of plotting an overthrow of the regime, Nasser also led a similar campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood portraying them as a terrorist organization which threatened the stability of the state order. This campaign was accompanied by mass arrests, torturing and executions of Brotherhood members took place in the regime’s concentration camps. What concerns me isn’t the credibility of the martial court’s rulings, but the magnitude of the state measures against the Brotherhood and the reasons behind them. Thus, several differences between the Nasser and the Mubarak experiences should be highlighted as the strategies of the two presidents seem similar at the outset; however, they remain inherently and structurally different as the contemporary political and social contexts vary greatly.

First, Nasser’s anti-campaign took place in a blocked political participation setting that didn’t allow a significant role for the brotherhood to function and mobilize many supporters. This fact actually aided the regime to discredit the organization in the eyes of the public opinion and the international community. The context of the anti-campaign against the brotherhood in 2007 differs from that of the 50s and 60s as the organization nowadays enjoys a much wider network of supporters and sympathizers which resulted in 88 seats in the 2005 parliamentary elections. Indeed, it is politically immature and unrealistic to accuse an organization which has been elected for parliament by almost 3 million Egyptian citizens of being a threat to stability and national security. Moreover, the least that could be said about these accusations is that they pose a direct insult to the Egyptian voter who chose to vote for the Muslim Brotherhood despite the known state intimidations and threats in the 2005 elections. Today, the MB enjoys the widest support throughout Egypt and it is far from realistic to marginalize or eradicate an organized movement of such a political and social weight.

Second, Nasser had a proclaimed ideological vision and agenda that he attempted to promote in the aftermath of the crackdown on the opposition in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular. Although the success of Nasser’s developmental agenda remains to be debatable, he surely gets credit for being a visionary president. On the contrary, the current incumbent regime headed by Mubarak has no defined or articulated vision whatsoever. Since Mubarak came to power 25 years ago, the state had no political or economic vision other than securing the incumbent regime and state elite’s interests and insuring their survival at the expense of the people’s freedoms and welfare. In line with this doctrine, the regime is currently obsessed with securing a smooth succession plan for Mubarak’s son “Gamal Mubarak” so that the latter could rise to power without facing any significant opposition. This obsession could be tracked in the regime’s decisions and initiatives that took place during the past 3 – 4 years including the constitutional amendments of 2005, the regime’s crackdown on all active opposition factions and the currently proposed constitutional amendments which are expected to legitimize the succession process. 

Indeed a topic as rich as a comparative study between the two regimes would need much more research beyond the scope of this article. However, this is just an attempt to shed some light on the similarities and differences between the two. Yet, I’m skeptical of what’s yet to come in Egypt’s future…the consequences of Nasser’s oppressive measures had long-term devastating effects for this country as radical/extremist thought and all its derivatives such as various militant groups found their way among the society as an outcome of marginalizing moderate Islamists. The primary victim of such a futile strategy by the regime was the Egyptian society which experienced grave human and financial losses for over 3 decades. The outcome of Mubarak’s shortsighted strategy with the MB would be result in more radicalism, violence and human/financial losses which wouldn’t only affect the domestic and regional political climate and stability…but would certainly shatter the Egyptian society once again. Let’s hope that the incumbent regime takes some time to think of the Egyptian society’s destiny as much as it thinks of its future plans and interests.     

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