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Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Embraces Social Chaos

COMMENT: Short­ly before being dis­qual­i­fied as a can­di­date for the Egypt­ian pres­i­den­cy, Mus­lim Broth­er­hood lumi­nary Khairat el-Shater expressed intent to reject an emer­gency IMF loan to Egypt.

One con­sid­er­a­tion this brings to mind is what the result of that rejec­tion will be and what the Broth­er­hood seeks to gain from that gam­bit. It also makes us won­der what oth­er Mus­lim Broth­er­hood (and “for­mer” Broth­er­hood) can­di­dates will do on this issue. Per­haps “Ter­rafractyl” can enlight­en us on this point.

As not­ed in this col­umn, Egypt is in dire eco­nom­ic straits and, the obvi­ous warts and blem­ish­es of the IMF aside, exac­er­bat­ing the grave eco­nom­ic plight of that soci­ety can not be good for the Egypt­ian peo­ple.

The author notes the Nazi her­itage of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and the­o­rizes that the Ikhwan’s exten­sive social ser­vices net­work will win the orga­ni­za­tion mas­sive and enthu­si­as­tic sup­port in the social mael­strom that fig­ures to result from an eco­nom­ic col­lapse.

In this regard, rejec­tion of the IMF loan may be seen against the back­ground of the effect of chan­cel­lor Bru­en­ing’s defla­tion­ary poli­cies (the “aus­ter­i­ty” embraced by Merkel, Rom­ney and oth­ers) on the Ger­man peo­ple. That aus­ter­i­ty was the engine that drove the Ger­man elec­torate into the arms of Hitler. 

In our For The Record series about the “Mus­lim Broth­er­hood Spring”–FTR #‘s 733 through 739–we expressed the thought that, in the absence of any real progress on the eco­nom­ic front, the Ikwhan’s agen­da would be “let ’em eat Jews (Israelis).”  One won­ders if eco­nom­ic col­lapse and result­ing social chaos will bring about that sort of phe­nom­e­non in Egypt

From the begin­ning, the pos­si­bil­i­ty of any real eco­nom­ic progress in a coun­try in which 56% of the women and 33% of the men are illit­er­ate seemed like a reach.

It seems like reject­ing the IMF loan will only make a bad sit­u­a­tion worse.

“Mus­lim Broth­er­hood Choos­es Chaos” by “Spen­gler”; Asia Times; 5/11/2012.

Egyp­t’s Mus­lim Broth­er­hood sig­naled its intent on Sun­day to push the coun­try into eco­nom­ic chaos. With liq­uid for­eign exchange reserves bare­ly equal to two months’ imports and pan­ic spread­ing through the Egypt­ian econ­o­my, the Broth­er­hood’s pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Khairat al-Shater warned that it would block a US$3 bil­lion emer­gency loan from the Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF) unless the mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment ced­ed pow­er.

“We told them [the gov­ern­ment], you have two choic­es. Either post­pone this issue of bor­row­ing and come up with any oth­er way of deal­ing with it with­out our approval, or speed up the for­ma­tion of a gov­ern­ment,” Khairat al-Shater said in a Reuters inter­view. [1]

The news ser­vice added that al-Shater “said he real­ized the coun­try’s finances were pre­car­i­ous and a severe crunch could come by ear­ly to mid-May as the end of the fis­cal year approached, but that this was the gov­ern­men­t’s prob­lem to resolve”.

Last week, Egyp­t’s cen­tral bank report­ed that total reserves had fall­en to $15 bil­lion, but — more impor­tant­ly — liq­uid for­eign exchange reserves had fall­en to only $9 bil­lion, equiv­a­lent to just two months’ imports. For­eign exchange futures mar­kets expect the Egypt­ian pound to lose half its val­ue dur­ing the next year, and Egyp­tians have respond­ed by hoard­ing diesel fuel, propane gas and oth­er neces­si­ties.

With half of Egyp­t’s pop­u­la­tion liv­ing on $2 a day or less, the expect­ed deval­u­a­tion would push a sig­nif­i­cant part of the pop­u­la­tion below min­i­mum nutri­tion lev­els, and bal­loon the gov­ern­men­t’s deficit as the cost of sub­si­diz­ing import­ed neces­si­ties rose. Egypt imports half its caloric con­sump­tion.

The IMF loan was a stop gap to delay deval­u­a­tion, but the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s al-Shater made clear that Egyp­t’s dom­i­nant polit­i­cal par­ty would spike it. “It is not log­i­cal that I approve a loan that the tran­si­tion­al gov­ern­ment would take for two or three months, then demand that I, as a per­ma­nent gov­ern­ment, repay,” Shater told Reuters.” I have to agree to a loan, some­body else gets to spend it, then I have to pay it back? That is unjust.”

As Egypt head­ed towards chaot­ic break­down, West­ern observers asked how its econ­o­my might be sta­bi­lized. This appears to have been the wrong ques­tion to begin with, for the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood will not allow the West to sta­bi­lize Egyp­t’s finan­cial posi­tion. The right ques­tion is: who will ben­e­fit from the chaos?

At this writ­ing, the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood appears to be the win­ner by default, for no oth­er actor has the courage and cold blood to exploit the emerg­ing cri­sis. Amer­i­ca, by con­trast, is locked into the defense of a dete­ri­o­rat­ing fixed posi­tion. And Egyp­t’s mil­i­tary lead­ers are more con­cerned with feath­er­ing their nests in exile, like the Iran­ian gen­er­als in 1979.

The Broth­er­hood believes that wide­spread hunger will strength­en its polit­i­cal posi­tion, and is prob­a­bly cor­rect to believe this. As the cen­tral gov­ern­men­t’s cor­rupt and rick­ety sys­tem of sub­si­dies col­laps­es, local Islamist orga­ni­za­tions will take con­trol of food dis­tri­b­u­tion and estab­lish a vir­tu­al dic­ta­tor­ship on the streets.

Amer­i­can ana­lysts mis­took the pro­tes­tors of Tahrir Square for rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies. The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood now reveals itself to be a rev­o­lu­tion­ary orga­ni­za­tion on the Lenin­ist or Nazi mod­el. . . .

. . .  As a rev­o­lu­tion­ary orga­ni­za­tion that rose under the influ­ence of Nazi Ger­many’s wartime for­eign min­istry, the Broth­er­hood has no qualms about exac­er­bat­ing Egyp­t’s eco­nom­ic mis­ery if it fur­thers its agen­da. Paul Berman’s 2010 book The Flight of the Intel­lec­tu­als sum­ma­rized exhaus­tive aca­d­e­m­ic research into wartime archives show­ing that the Broth­er­hood was shaped by Nazi ide­ol­o­gy. Berman’s report evoked out­rage, but has stood up well to its crit­ics. [3] The New Repub­lic essay that formed the core of Berman’s book is avail­able. . . .

Discussion

8 comments for “Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Embraces Social Chaos”

  1. I just fin­ished Paul Berman’s book. He is an excep­tion­al­ly flu­id writer.
    The his­tor­i­cal links between the Third Reich and the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood (par­tic­u­lar­ly their com­bined pro­pa­gan­da efforts) are syn­op­sized and recount­ed in very read­able lan­guage. He cogent­ly argues for doubt regard­ing the MB and their legit­i­mate claim to any true moder­ni­ty or Enlight­en­ment prin­ci­ples. And here, in this post, we see more evi­dence of the same.

    A must read for all spi­firelis­ters. Thanks for the rec­om­men­da­tion, Dave.

    Posted by GrumpusRex | May 5, 2012, 7:53 pm
  2. One thing is becom­ing clear in Egyp­t’s IMF loan nego­ti­a­tion: Egyp­t’s abil­i­ty to finance its glob­al imports is get­ting close to run­ning out and that’s prov­ing to be a tempt­ing polit­i­cal foot­ball. Egypt­ian tourism has col­lapsed in the last year and that was a huge source of for­eign cash on top of every­thing else that’s sent the coun­try’s finances into tur­moil. With tourism implod­ing and cash run­ning out, the IMF loans are the main thing stand­ing between the Egypt­ian poor and hunger. That’s becuse Egypt is going be forced to do what non-euro­zone coun­tries do when they run out of cash and have to keep pay­ing the bills: deval­ue their cur­ren­cy (In the euro­zone, the coun­tries under­go “inter­nal deval­u­a­tion”). Egypt cur­rent­ly arti­fi­cial­ly props up their pound against the dol­lar, so if there is some sort of deval­u­a­tion that takes plans in the midst of pan­ic it could be a rough one (there’s an esti­mate of a 50% drop of the egypt­ian pound against the dol­lar in one of the arti­cles below). And with with some­thing like half of Egyp­t’s pop­u­la­tion liv­ing on less than $2 a day, a cur­ren­cy deval­u­a­tion on that scale risks an extreme social cat­a­stro­phe.

    It sounds like all par­ties involved agree that the IMF loan at hand for $3.2 bil­lion is going to have to hap­pen SOMEHOW for Egypt to avoid choas so it’s just a mat­ter of HOW the loan is works out and WHEN it hap­pens. And, it appears, WHO signs off on the deal and gets and WHO decide HOW the mon­ey is spent. The argu­ment that al-Shater was mak­ing (before his expul­sion from the race) was “since the loan mon­ey will be lent out now but the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood won’t come to pow­er for sev­er­al months, why should the MB-dom­i­nat­ed assem­bly agree to a loan pack­age where the future MB gov­ern­ment has the lia­bil­i­ties to pay back the mon­ey but a the cur­rent army-run inter­min gov­ern­ment gets to decide how the mon­ey is spent”. So, accord­ing to al-Shater, unless an argree­ment is worked out with the army to allow the MB to assume pow­er at an ear­li­er date OR the terms of the loan is worked out so that the MB will have a greater say over how the bil­lions are spent, the MB is going to use its votes in the assem­bly to block the eco­nom­ic pack­age. As the arti­cle below points out, these were demands that almost cer­tain­ly would­n’t be met, and if there’s a dis­or­der­ly deval­u­a­tion (say, from con­flict­ing erupt­ing in the Mid­dle East before the aid pack­age is final­ized), the poten­tial for polit­i­cal chaos and vio­lence is real. So this is one hell of a game of chick­en the MB has been play­ing:

    Analy­sis: Egyp­t’s Broth­er­hood rais­es stakes by exclud­ing IMF
    By Patrick Werr

    CAIRO | Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:45pm EDT

    (Reuters) — In all but rul­ing out an ear­ly agree­ment on an IMF loan, Egyp­t’s Mus­lim Broth­er­hood has dra­mat­i­cal­ly raised the stakes in its strug­gle with the army-led admin­is­tra­tion for con­trol of a coun­try still reel­ing from a year of polit­i­cal tur­moil.

    The Broth­er­hood’s can­di­date for pres­i­dent, Khairat al-Shater, said this week the group would not accept an Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund loan unless its terms were changed or a new gov­ern­ment was formed to mon­i­tor how it is spent, demands that almost cer­tain­ly won’t be met.

    Even with­out a loan before the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in May and June, who­ev­er comes to pow­er will be forced, soon­er or lat­er, to impose huge­ly unpop­u­lar tax­es and cuts in gov­ern­ment spend­ing to reduce bud­get and bal­ance of pay­ments deficits inflat­ed by a year of polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic tur­moil.

    But any delay in secur­ing a loan brings clos­er the prospect of a ful­ly fledged fis­cal cri­sis that would mean a jump in con­sumer prices and inter­est rates, a sharp deval­u­a­tion and huge pres­sure on banks.

    It’s a game of brinkman­ship in which the Broth­er­hood might be first to yield to avoid inher­it­ing an econ­o­my in tat­ters, fear­ing it will end up tak­ing the blame for painful mea­sures that the cur­rent gov­ern­ment has repeat­ed­ly delayed.

    The coun­try’s tran­si­tion to civil­ian rule will cul­mi­nate at the end of June, when the mil­i­tary hands pow­er to a new­ly elect­ed pres­i­dent for whom the econ­o­my will be a top pri­or­i­ty.

    ...

    Bar­ring shocks, the coun­try should have a big enough finan­cial cush­ion to see it through for at least three months, until an elect­ed gov­ern­ment is installed with a pop­u­lar man­date to push through an IMF agree­ment.

    The IMF, how­ev­er, has demand­ed broad polit­i­cal sup­port before it signs any agree­ment, in par­tic­u­lar from the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, whose Free­dom and Jus­tice Par­ty won near­ly half the seats in the new par­lia­ment.

    Shater said he was not opposed to a deal in prin­ci­ple, but only to the plan to dis­burse part of it while the army-backed tran­si­tion­al gov­ern­ment remained in pow­er.

    He said the Broth­er­hood might accept an IMF deal if the loan’s first install­ment was reduced to $500 mil­lion from the cur­rent plan of pay­ing out more than $1 bil­lion imme­di­ate­ly upon sign­ing.

    DECLINING FOREIGN RESERVES

    Econ­o­mists say the cen­tral bank still has enough for­eign reserves to hold on well past the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion with­out hav­ing to deval­ue the pound.

    “Cap­i­tal flight has already tak­en place, and that’s going to leave the cen­tral bank hav­ing to cov­er a short­fall of around $600–750 mil­lion a month from here on,” said Williams, who esti­mat­ed the gov­ern­ment could hold out for anoth­er six months.

    But oth­er econ­o­mists warn that an out­break of polit­i­cal vio­lence could pro­voke cap­i­tal flight and dis­rupt tourism, which has yet to recov­er since last year’s upris­ing. Sim­i­lar­ly, a spike in oil prices could dri­ve up the cost of import­ed fuel.

    ...

    Any result­ing drain on dol­lars could exhaust the abil­i­ty of the cen­tral bank to defend the pound, which it has allowed to weak­en by only 3.5 per­cent against the U.S. dol­lar since the upris­ing.

    “Fail­ure to secure help from the IMF would make a dis­or­der­ly deval­u­a­tion more like­ly. In this sce­nario, the pound could over­shoot, falling by per­haps 50 per­cent or more against the U.S. dol­lar,” Said Hirsh of Cap­i­tal Eco­nom­ics wrote in an April 5 research note.

    “The costs to the econ­o­my would be severe. This is like­ly to lead to a spike in infla­tion, sharp hikes in inter­est rates, a poten­tial bank­ing cri­sis and rapid fall in asset prices.”

    ...

    So this next 3–6 months is going to be an espe­cial­ly vul­ner­a­ble peri­od for Egypt because that finan­cial cush­ion that it had last year, when the rev­o­lu­tion was just begin­ning, is now almost offi­cial­ly out. It’s also like­ly to be a peri­od of end­less IMF-dic­tates for austerity...and peri­od when Egypt­ian nation­al­ism is allowed to man­i­fest itself for the first time in decades. AND, as the arti­cle above indi­cates, every­one agrees that, soon­er or lat­er, Egypt is going to imple­ment a series of painful tax hikes and spend­ing cuts. So the MB has to know that it’s the only polit­i­cal group that will be forced to imple­ment and “own” what­ev­er future reforms pop up. Unless, of course, things get real­ly bad. So bad that econ­o­my the falls apart in a way that does­n’t leave the MB as the default cul­prit. It’s the “things get real­ly bad for Egypt, but good for the MB” sce­nario that’s look­ing like the scari­est pos­si­bil­i­ty right now, so any fur­ther indi­ca­tion that the MB is intent on foment­ing an out of con­trol sit­u­a­tion is some­thing to watch for between now and when­ev­er the inevitable “reforms” get offi­cial­ly passed. The more chaot­ic the sit­u­a­tion when those reforms get passed, the bet­ter the sit­u­a­tion for the MB.

    As this arti­cle from yes­ter­day indi­cates, there’s been pret­ty much no progress on the loan issue even after the MB was hand­ed the pres­i­den­cy by the ejec­tion of the can­di­dates. Yeah, al-Shater was eject­ed too, but his replace­ment, Muhammed Mur­si, should over­whelm the com­pe­ti­tion now that the oth­er Islamist can­di­dates are out too and can’t split the Islamist vote. So the MB knows unam­bigous­ly that they’ll be hold­ing the reigns of pow­er in a few months. They also know that the IMF will be push­ing for aus­ter­i­ty mad­ness eco­nom­ic reforms that could be excep­tion­al­ly painful for the Egypt­ian peo­ple. So we all know that some­how this sit­u­a­tion is going to have to change:

    Cairo reap­plies for IMF debt-aid

    Pub­lished May 6th, 2012 — 10:49 GMT via SyndiGate.info

    ...

    A series of blows to a final agree­ment with the IMF have raised fresh con­cerns about whether Egypt can sus­tain its fis­cal sit­u­a­tion much longer. Last month, the par­lia­ment reject­ed the gov­ern­men­t’s new eco­nom­ic plan, the key to the coun­try’s request for the $3.2bn loan. Only six of 365 mem­bers of the assem­bly, which is dom­i­nat­ed by the pow­er­ful Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, vot­ed in favour of the plan.

    The IMF has said repeat­ed­ly in recent weeks that it will back only a recov­ery plan that has “broad polit­i­cal sup­port”, mean­ing that to grant the loan it needs the approval of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s Free­dom and Jus­tice Par­ty, the major­i­ty polit­i­cal par­ty in par­lia­ment. A mem­ber of the par­ty is one of three front run­ners in the upcom­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

    Egyp­t’s inter­na­tion­al reserves have fall­en to a dan­ger­ous­ly low lev­el, about $15.1bn at the end of March, and the cur­rent account deficit widened to $8bn in the six months to the end of Decem­ber.

    Now, in the midst of a polit­i­cal upris­ing that shows no signs of wan­ing, var­i­ous parts of the Egypt­ian gov­ern­ment are being forced to reassess decades-long spend­ing pat­terns that have dri­ven the coun­try’s bud­get deficit high­er.

    ...

    Reforms are key to boost­ing the nation’s eco­nom­ic prospects but are also impor­tant for help­ing the inter­im gov­ern­ment and polit­i­cal forces gain wider accep­tance from for­eign investors and poten­tial donors as a messy tran­si­tion is under way.

    But econ­o­mists say that with­out agree­ment on the IMF loan, the Egypt­ian pound will fall as much as 15 per cent over the next few months and the absence of an IMF loan would leave the nation with lit­tle exter­nal financ­ing.

    Sau­di Ara­bia has been the only coun­try since last year not to wait for the IMF deal to start dis­burs­ing loans. The king­dom has so far giv­en Egypt $500m out of almost $4bn of aid pledged after last year’s pop­u­lar revolt that drove Hos­ni Mubarak from the pres­i­den­cy. But recent ten­sions between the two coun­tries now threat­en the flow of Sau­di aid.

    That last para­graph about the recent Egypt­ian strains with Israel and Sau­di Ara­bia is par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ing. Oth­er than the US these are per­haps the two most expen­sive coun­tries Egypt could have strains with even dur­ing eco­nom­ic good times. But as the above arti­cle points out, the Saud­is are the one gov­ern­ment con­tin­ing mak­ing loans to Egypt in spite of the IMF halt. $4 bil­lion dol­lars, even more than the entire IMF loan. So this is a par­tic­u­lar­ly high-risk pair of tiffs for the Egypt­ian gov­ern­ment to pe engaged in dur­ing a time like this and it’s notable that the MB is lead­ing that pop­u­lar anti-Saudi/Is­raeli back­lash­es:

    Bloomberg
    Egypt’s Pop­u­lar Anger Shifts to Israel and Sau­di Ara­bia
    By Nicholas Noe & Walid Raad Apr 30, 2012 3:35 PM GMT-0500

    Egyp­tians are angry, say Arab com­men­ta­tors, and it’s not just because of unem­ploy­ment, dete­ri­o­rat­ing secu­ri­ty or the con­tin­ued de-fac­to rule of the mil­i­tary.

    Their ire is also very much con­nect­ed to for­eign pol­i­cy, and specif­i­cal­ly to the ties with two coun­tries that have loomed so large in Egypt’s mod­ern his­to­ry: Israel and Sau­di Ara­bia.

    Both states took a beat­ing in the Egypt­ian media this past week: Israel, over a con­tro­ver­sial gas deal with Egypt that has been sus­pend­ed, and Sau­di Ara­bia over its arrest of a promi­nent Egypt­ian human-rights cam­paign­er who was per­form­ing a reli­gious pil­grim­age.

    In each case, Egypt­ian gen­er­als and their unelect­ed allies in gov­ern­ment have been forced to try to tame the con­flicts, which are being fueled by a wide pop­u­lar move­ment — strong­ly backed by elect­ed polit­i­cal par­ties includ­ing the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood — to reassert Egypt’s dig­ni­ty and pres­tige in the region.

    The annul­ment of the con­tract leads to “the achieve­ment of a def­i­nite pop­u­lar wish to stop the expor­ta­tion of gas to the Zion­ist enti­ty,” wrote the colum­nist Wag­di Zeined­din in Al-Wafd, the Cairo-based news­pa­per of the lib­er­al Al-Wafd par­ty.

    The deal to deliv­er Egypt­ian nat­ur­al gas to the Israel Elec­tric Corp. was signed in 2008 under oust­ed Pres­i­dent Hos­ni Mubarak and accounts for 40 per­cent of Israel’s annu­al nat­ur­al-gas usage.

    ...

    Equal­ly delight­ed by the Egypt­ian deci­sion, the Jerusalem-based Al-Quds wrote in an edi­to­r­i­al that it sig­nals changes that go well “beyond gas.”

    “The issue has anoth­er aspect, deeply relat­ed to pol­i­tics in light of the rad­i­cal change tak­ing place in Egypt since the fall of Mubarak and his regime,” it wrote.

    Even though the armed forces coun­cil is keen to “calm its for­eign fronts until the sit­u­a­tion is sta­bi­lized at home,” soon­er or lat­er “change will come, and Egypt­ian-Israeli rela­tions will no longer be as calm they used to be in the days of Mubarak.”

    This could have pos­i­tive con­se­quences for the Pales­tin­ian strug­gle, the paper said, as Israel will want to end its occu­pa­tion of Pales­tin­ian lands soon­er to avoid pro­vok­ing the wrath of the grow­ing “rev­o­lu­tion­ary forces and Islam­ic trends” in sur­round­ing states.

    ...

    This past week, how­ev­er, there were rau­cous protests out­side the Sau­di Embassy in Cairo — it was even­tu­al­ly closed and the ambas­sador was with­drawn — which was accom­pa­nied by a graf­fi­ti and social-media cam­paign dis­parag­ing the Sau­di king direct­ly. Pun­dits chimed in to say they are fed up with how the Saud­is treat Egypt­ian work­ers and how they treat Egyp­tians in Egypt.

    The cause of the indig­na­tion was the arrest of the Egypt­ian lawyer Ahmed el-Giza­wi upon his arrival in Sau­di Ara­bia on April 17. The Sau­di author­i­ties even­tu­al­ly claimed Giza­wi had been found with more than 20,000 Xanax pills hid­den in his lug­gage, a grave offense.

    ...

    Con­sid­er­ing the crit­i­cal role the Sau­di monar­chy played in MB’s inter­na­tion­al branch­es fol­low­ing Nasser’s crack­downs(and all the oth­er jihad-financ­ing from the Sau­di roy­als over the decades) it’s a lit­tle his­tor­i­cal­ly iron­ic that it’s the Saud­is are now appar­entlc freak­ing out over the pos­si­bil­i­ty of MB-style reli­gios­i­ty becom­ing a com­pet­i­tive alter­na­tive Sun­ni move­ment in the region. And yet that’s what seems to be hap­pen­ing:

    Rise of Mus­lim Broth­er­hood frays Sau­di-Egypt ties

    By Angus McDowall

    LONDON | Tue May 1, 2012 11:43am EDT

    (Reuters) — Sau­di Ara­bia frets that Egypt, its strongest Arab ally and a major recip­i­ent of Sau­di fund­ing, is falling under what it sees as the bale­ful influ­ence of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood.

    Riyadh recalled its ambas­sador from Cairo at the week­end in a spat that under­lines the mis­giv­ings of the robed princes who rule the world’s top oil exporter and who have watched Egyp­t’s rev­o­lu­tion and its often chaot­ic after­math with alarm.

    They fear that polit­i­cal uncer­tain­ty in Egypt, which votes in a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion this month, may under­mine a decades-old strate­gic bond between the two pro‑U.S. Arab allies, a bond already shak­en when Egyp­tians top­pled their ruler last year.

    “The Saud­is viewed the ouster of (Pres­i­dent) Hos­ni Mubarak as a very neg­a­tive devel­op­ment,” said Robert Jor­dan, the U.S. ambas­sador in Riyadh from 2001-03.

    “They’re con­cerned about the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and the uncer­tain­ty of the lead­er­ship. And they’re very sen­si­tive at any hint that that move­ment could spread to Sau­di or oth­er Gulf coun­tries.”

    Riyad­h’s recall for con­sul­ta­tions of Ambas­sador Ahmed Kat­tan after protests out­side the Sau­di embassy against the arrest of an Egypt­ian lawyer in the king­dom may prove fleet­ing.

    Egypt seems keen to have Kat­tan back, judg­ing by gov­ern­ment state­ments and reports in state-owned news­pa­pers of Egyp­tians wav­ing Sau­di flags at the embassy call­ing for his return.

    It was street protests out­side the Sau­di embassy last week that caused umbrage in Riyadh. Crowds were protest­ing at the arrest of Egypt­ian lawyer Ahmed El-Geza­wi by Sau­di author­i­ties.

    Egypt­ian activists said he had been detained for speak­ing out against ill-treat­ment of Egyp­tians in the king­dom. The Sau­di author­i­ties said he had been smug­gling drugs.

    Even if the diplo­mat­ic quar­rel is smoothed over, it reflects the new fragili­ty of a once-sol­id alliance between the most pop­u­lous Arab nation and the rich­est.

    Sau­di Ara­bia last month agreed to grant Cairo $2.7 bil­lion in aid — and has giv­en no pub­lic sign so far of recon­sid­er­ing this pledge — but it fears Egyp­t’s polit­i­cal evo­lu­tion will ampli­fy the Broth­er­hood’s region­al clout while dimin­ish­ing Sau­di influ­ence, said an Egypt­ian offi­cial who asked not to be named.

    The Broth­er­hood and Sau­di Ara­bia share Sun­ni Mus­lim val­ues, but Riyadh regards the move­ment as an ide­o­log­i­cal com­peti­tor with an aggres­sive­ly activist polit­i­cal doc­trine that might desta­bi­lize allies and foment dis­cord inside the king­dom.

    “With­draw­ing the ambas­sador was a way of remind­ing Egyp­tians that Sau­di secu­ri­ty con­cerns have to be respect­ed,” said Sha­di Hamid, direc­tor of research at the Brook­ings Doha Cen­ter.

    “The Broth­er­hood has­n’t real­ly gone out of its way to reas­sure Sau­di Ara­bia about region­al secu­ri­ty inter­ests.”

    ...

    “If Egypt can’t sus­tain its finan­cial sys­tem there could be a pow­er vac­u­um and the sort of sit­u­a­tion that al Qae­da might exploit. The Saud­is have an inter­est in main­tain­ing the via­bil­i­ty of Egyp­t’s econ­o­my,” said Jor­dan.

    For its part, the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood knows Egypt has no cred­i­ble donors that could sub­sti­tute for Sau­di Ara­bia, said Daniel Kurtzer, U.S. ambas­sador to Egypt from 1997–2001.

    “I don’t think the lead­er­ship of any of the Egypt­ian fac­tions — the mil­i­tary, civ­il soci­ety, the Islamists — would want to change things. The prob­lem is where the street takes Egypt­ian pol­i­cy,” he said.

    Jamal Khashog­gi, an influ­en­tial Sau­di com­men­ta­tor and for­mer news­pa­per edi­tor, said Riyadh was watch­ing Egyp­t’s tran­si­tion.

    “It’s wait­ing for Egypt to set­tle and for a lead­er­ship to emerge before we start rebuild­ing the strate­gic alliance we have with them,” he said.

    So, to sum­ma­rize, we have a sit­u­a­tion where Egypt is rapid­ly run­ning out of its cur­ren­cy reserves — reserves it needs to buy grain on the inter­na­tion­al mar­kets just to feed itself — and all this is hap­pen­ing right at a time when the MB and mil­i­tary are locked in an uneasy pow­er strug­gle. That pow­er strug­gle, in turn, appears to now include the gov­ern­ment approval of an IMF loan pack­age that is required to avoid com­plete choas in a few months after the cur­ren­cy reserves run out. AND not only is this IMF loan pack­age tus­sle a fight over who gets to dis­burse the bil­lions in loans (a fight for the polit­i­cal spoils) but it’s also appar­ent­ly a fight over who gets blamed for the inevitable tax hikes and spend­ing cuts that the next gov­ern­ment is going to HAVE to pass in order to please the IMF(because the loan comes with stings attached). The IMF is demand­ing that Egyp­t’s gov­ern­ment pro­vides broad sup­port for the loan pack­age and that means the MB HAS to approve of the deal. But so far the MB appears to be unin­ter­est­ed in approv­ing the loan pack­age unless the mil­i­tary hands over com­plete pow­er in advance or changes the loan terms to give the MB greater con­trol of the spoils. And, to top it all off, the MB is lead­ing the polit­i­cal charges against two of Egyp­t’s biggest trad­ing part­ners, one that could cre­ate a major mil­i­tary headache and the oth­er that effic­tiv­ly bank­rupt the coun­try overnight. It does indeed look like the MB is bet­ting on chaos.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 7, 2012, 7:37 pm
  3. @Pterrafractyl: I don’t think I could have put it bet­ter. Bra­vo. =)

    Posted by Steve L. | May 7, 2012, 11:08 pm
  4. [...] Egypt­ian Mus­lim Broth­er­hood Embraces Social Chaos [...]

    Posted by Miscellaneous articles for – Articles divers pour 05-08-2012 | Lys-d'Or | May 8, 2012, 11:30 am
  5. @Pterrafractyl: Great research. One thing is cer­tain. When the coun­try will col­lapse, we can be sure it will, there will be chaos. Peo­ple will turn to each oth­er to blame and you can be sure Chris­tians and Jews will be slaugh­tered to the last ones. It’s already start­ed though­out North Africa and the Mid­dle East.

    On anoth­er mat­ter, the fact that there is an anger shift from Mubarak and his regime toward Israel and Sau­di Ara­bia could mean an Iran­ian influ­ence. The reports I get from some Jew­ish friends is that Iran would bomb Israel and Sau­di Ara­bia if they were to have a nuclear bomb and make the deci­sion to act. This sud­den shift in anger sug­gests that Iran may be involved in the devel­op­ment of the polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion on the ground, for the so-called Arab Spring there.

    Posted by Claude | May 8, 2012, 10:46 pm
  6. @Claude: Not so sure about Sau­di, TBH. After all, they too, are under the con­trol of rad­i­cal Islamist fas­cists just like Iran. And per­haps the Iran­ian gov­’t may indeed be assist­ing with the hijack­ing of the Arab Spring movement.....only time will tell, I guess.

    Posted by Steve L. | May 9, 2012, 8:05 pm
  7. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012–05-17/news/sns-rt-us-egypt-election-brotherhoodbre84g1iv-20120517_1_egypt-s-muslim-brotherhood-abdel-moneim-abol-fotouh-human-chain

    Egypt Broth­er­hood forms human chain for can­di­date
    May 17, 2012|Reuters

    CAIRO (Reuters) — Egyp­t’s Mus­lim Broth­er­hood orga­nized a 760-km (470-mile)-long human chain of sup­port­ers across the coun­try on Thurs­day to back the group’s pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Mohamed Mur­si in a show of strength ahead of next week’s his­toric vote.

    From Cairo to Aswan, mem­bers of the Broth­er­hood and its Free­dom and Jus­tice Par­ty (FJP), held posters of Mohamed Mur­si, the Broth­er­hood’s alter­na­tive choice to the group’s ini­tial can­di­date Khairat Shater, who was dis­qual­i­fied over a mil­i­tary court con­vic­tion.

    Posted by Vanfield | May 18, 2012, 4:03 pm
  8. http://www.debka.com/article/23189/Egypt%E2%80%99s-Muslim-Brotherhood-goes-underground-hides-command-structure-in-Gaza-

    Egypt’s Mus­lim Broth­er­hood goes under­ground, hides com­mand struc­ture in Gaza
    DEBKAfile Exclu­sive Report August 11, 2013, 6:27 PM (IDT)
    Tags: Egyp­t’s mil­i­tary coup, Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, Gaza, Israel, Sinai, Al Qae­da,

    On July 22, debkafile revealed that a group of six Mus­lim Broth­er­hood offi­cials escaped from Egypt after the July 3 over­throw of pres­i­dent Mohamed Mor­si in a mil­i­tary coup and smug­gled them­selves into the Gaza Strip to lead an upris­ing against the mil­i­tary. The group was head­ed by Mah­mud Izzat Ibrahim, known as the Brotherhood’s “iron man” and fourth in rank in its hier­ar­chy after Supreme Guide Muhammed Badie.

    The fugi­tives set up a com­mand post at the Gaza Beach Hotel for oper­a­tions against Egypt­ian mil­i­tary and secu­ri­ty tar­gets in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Hamas and armed Al Qae­da-linked Salafist Bedouin in Sinai. The group planned their revolt to spread quick­ly out from Sinai to Egypt prop­er and top­ple the inter­im rulers in Cairo.
    West­ern intel­li­gence agen­cies fol­low­ing the inner work­ings of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood have since dis­cov­ered that the Brotherhood’s plans are a good deal more high-pow­ered than first thought.

    Accord­ing to debkafile’s intel­li­gence sources, the move­ment nev­er dis­man­tled its clan­des­tine para­mil­i­tary under­ground. Its hid­den com­man­ders manip­u­lat­ed front politi­cians from the shad­ows under three Egypt­ian pres­i­dents and con­tin­ued to do so after the Broth­er­hood was elect­ed to pow­er in Cairo in 2012.
    At all times since then, the Broth­ers stood ready to step in should their Free­dom and Jus­tice Par­ty lead­ers be oust­ed and sent back to prison. “Supreme Guide,” Mohammed Badie was there­fore no more than an obe­di­ent front for the Mus­lim Brotherhood’s real leader, who was until now Mr. X.
    It now tran­spires that he is none oth­er than Mah­moud Izzat Ibrahim, who is firm­ly at the helm and run­ning the show both in Sinai and Cairo from the Gaza Beach Hotel, under the aus­pices of the Pales­tin­ian Hamas rulers.
    He plans to con­front with vio­lence every action ordered against the Broth­er­hood by Defense Min­is­ter, Gen. Abdel-Fat­tah El-Sisi.

    While con­duct­ing a war of ter­ror against mil­i­tary tar­gets in Sinai, Izzat Ibrahim’s orders keep thou­sands of fol­low­ers main­tain­ing their sit-in protests in Cairo for their pres­i­den­t’s rein­state­ment. They are deter­mined to leave the mil­i­tary no option but to use force to dis­perse them.
    Ibrahim’s goal is to lead his move­ment into a bloody con­fronta­tion with the mil­i­tary.
    Gen. El-Sisi, for his part, knows that the Brotherhood’s under­ground com­mand cen­ter in the Gaza Beach Hotel must be destroyed in order to beat its war of resis­tance.

    For effec­tive action in the Gaza Strip, the Egypt­ian mil­i­tary needs help from Israel’s Defense Forces, just as the IDF needs the Egypt­ian army to coun­ter­act the al Qae­da and oth­er Islam­ic ter­ror­ists in Sinai who are ded­i­cat­ed to attack­ing Israel as well as Egypt.

    This tac­it inter­de­pen­dence and the inter­changes against a shared ene­my shot into promi­nence over two inci­dents. The first was the two-hour clo­sure Thurs­day, Aug. 8 of Eilat air­port at Israel’s south­ern­most tip, fol­low­ing an Egypt­ian intel­li­gence tip-off over a mis­sile threat from Sinai. Then Fri­day, Aug. 9, for­eign sources report­ed that two mis­siles fired by an Israeli drone in North Sinai destroyed a mis­sile launch­er and killed four or five ter­ror­ists at Ajarah.
    Israel nev­er con­firmed this attack. The impres­sion it made was quick­ly over­laid with con­flict­ing reports. Egypt­ian offi­cials ini­tial­ly attrib­uted the Israeli drone attack to intel­li­gence coop­er­a­tion between the two armies. An Al-Qae­da group in Sinai, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, accused Israel of killing four of its mem­bers by a drone strike and vowed vengeance. debkafile report­ed that the attack may not have been con­duct­ed by Israel but Egypt­ian author­i­ties, which pre­ferred to dis­avow an oper­a­tion car­ried out on the Mus­lim fes­ti­val of Eid al-Fitr.
    Final­ly, Sun­day, the Egypt­ian mil­i­tary report­ed that its oper­a­tion against armed groups in the Sinai believed to have been plot­ting attacks on secu­ri­ty forces and oth­er tar­gets was ongo­ing. At least sev­en peo­ple were killed over night and six arrest­ed in a raid.
    The Egypt­ian mil­i­tary state­ment went on to report that the raid fol­lowed an air strike by the Egypt­ian mil­i­tary on Fri­day, which saw at least four peo­ple killed. The assault on Sat­ur­day hap­pened when Apache heli­copters hit areas south of Sheikh Zuwaid in north Sinai, accord­ing to Egypt­ian state media.

    Israel’s Defense min­is­ter com­ment­ed: “The Egypt­ian army is fight­ing first and fore­most to defend Egypt­ian cit­i­zens and sov­er­eign­ty. We will not let rumors and spec­u­la­tion impair the peace rela­tions between our coun­tries.”

    Posted by Vanfield | August 12, 2013, 9:10 am

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