November 23, 2014

Is Egypt About to Elect an Islamist President?


Registration to run for president of Egypt begins March 10. The military moved it up from April 15 to show that it is handing over power to the civilians. As I’ve said before, I’ve never seen any evidence that the army is not going to turn over control of the country to a new, elected president. All of the mass media and political hysteria to the contrary, the generals don’t want to hold onto the government.

Has the Brotherhood’s success in parliamentary elections gone to its head? Has the weak international response to its ascendancy emboldened the Islamists to seek total power now rather than to go slow and be patient? It’s starting to look that way.

The Muslim Brotherhood has announced once again that it will not run a candidate for president in the elections projected for June: “The Muslim Brotherhood will not support Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh or any candidate,” says Muhammad al-Badi, the leader of the Brotherhood.

But this is misdirection. The Brotherhood’s influential spiritual advisor Yusuf al-Qaradawi is supporting Abul-Fotouh. And guess what? The Brotherhood is going to support Abul-Fotouh “unofficially.” How? Simple: through the “independent” Justice and Development Party supporting an “independent” presidential candidate. Brotherhood leader Muhammad al-Badi now says that the president must have an “Islamic background,” and by that he rules out any “secular” candidate.

Egyptian voters who backed the Brotherhood — giving it 235 seats, 47 percent of those in parliament — will vote for someone. The Brotherhood doesn’t own their votes, but presumably most of these voters will support an unofficial Brotherhood candidate.

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About Barry Rubin

Prof. Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist for PajamasMedia at http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan)