RSSSvi unosi označeni: "Kifaja"

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Success in the Legislative Elections in Egypt 2005

Noha Antar


In the context of an unprecedented opening of the political system in Egypt in 2004/2005, muslimanskog bratstva (MB) scored an impressive success in the 2005 legislative elections that showed that the mainstream non-violent Islamist movement, despite the legal ban of the movement itself and of its political activities, is the only influential and organised political opposition in the face of the veteran National Democratic Party (NDP).Reasons for the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral success in 2005The first set of reasons for the MB’s success is related to the changes that occurred in the political context. Above all, the first presidential elections that took place in September 2005 had a direct impact on the legislative elections in November the same year: By opening up competition for the post of the president, the election signalled the unprecedented impasse of the regime seeking to patch up its legitimacy. U Dodatku, civic protest movements had emerged that rejected the political system much more fundamentally and called for comprehensive reform. The most important of these has been the dynamic protest movement called the Egyptian Movement for Change, Kifaja. Međutim, as a second set of factors, the regime itself can also be considered a factor in the MB’s rising influence: The NDP and government officials have relied heavily on religious arguments; they have oppressed secular or liberal opponents; they have nourished obscurantist religious trends in Al-Azhar and among religious groups; and they have let the MB take charge of welfare services in order to save on the state budget. Također, the regime has allowed Islamist activists to enter trade unions, while reserving the leadership positions for the NDP. There is a third set of reasons for the MB’s success which is related to the movement’s long term strategy to build a societal base: The MB’s strategic approach has been to invest in welfare services so as to build a large power base among the population that they are able to mobilize politically. And indeed, not only have many MB candidates gained credibility and respect through their daily contacts with the people, the movement has been investing in the social sphere for more than 30 godine. In a society in which 40 percent of the population lives under the poverty line and the political participation rate is only 25 percent, providing services in all vital sectors – education, health, and employment – has proved to be the fastest and most successful way to gain supporters. Fourth, using the religious sphere as a place for political mobilisation has been a successful strategy of the MB. Those affiliated with the MB, members and sympathizers, often saw it as a religious duty to vote for a candidate of the movement. Despite the doubts the slogan “Islam is the solution” raised among many, the MB continued to use it because it wanted to focus on religion as the determining factor for the vote, and because it had gained the trust of the people as being the movement representing Islamic identity. On top of this, the movement was able to make use of the unprecedented coincidence of growing internal and external pressures on the regime, by starting open and direct political activity in the name of the movement. The MB has also understood the importance of rallying with other opposition forces, and it has sought coordination with these forces for creating more pressure on the regime. Related to this is another important factor for the MB’s success: its organisational capacity.Has the MB changed its agenda and priorities?While the MB has opted to participate peacefully in the political process in Egypt, it remains unclear as to whether it represents a genuine democratic force or if it will use the democratic opening to pursue an authoritarian agenda. Still, participation in the political system has already transformed the movement. During the 2005 election campaign the concepts of “democracy” and “political participation” found their way into the MB’s rhetoric and, most importantly, into its political strategies of creating grassroot networks for popular support. The experience of elaborating a political programme for the legislative elections pushed the movement to publicly clarify its positions on concepts such as party pluralism – something that had previously been refused in some trends of Islamic thought as “al-tahazzub” (partisanship) with the argument that Islam calls for unity of the nation rather than its fragmentation. The MB can be considered to be part of Egypt’s reform forces, but that is primarily so because it agrees with other political reformers on the tools for bringing about reforms: rule of law, good governance and free elections. The MB’s activities in Parliament have so far demonstrated their devotion to serving their voters and retaining credibility. They have been more efficient in dealing with public needs, in revealing corruption cases and in rapidly interacting with victims of injustice than other deputies. As has been discussed above, political change in Egypt until now has not meant a significant move toward democracy. Prvi, this has reflected on the MB’s organisation, strategy and agenda. The “mutual fear reflex” as an outcome of the relationship between the illegal MB and the regime has required the movement to adopt a strategy of secrecy which prevents them from being transparent for security reasons. Također, maintaining ambiguous positions is a defence mechanism used by both Islamist and non-Islamist opposition forces in Egypt.

Commentary: Hollow ring for democracy

ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE

WASHINGTON, June 24 (UPI) — The White House’s crusade for democracy, as President Bush sees it, has produceda critical mass of events taking that (Srednji istok) region in a hopeful new direction.And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just toured the area, making clear at every stop whenever the United States has a choice between stability and democracy, the new ideological remedy would sacrifice stability.

Veteran Mideast hands who have dealt with five regional wars and two intifadas over the past half century shuddered. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger first among them.

For the U.S. to crusade in every part of the world to spread democracy may be beyond our capacity,” he says. Sad. system, he explains, “is the product of unique historical experiences, difficult to duplicate or to transplant into Muslim societies where secular democracy has seldom thrived.If ever.

If stability had been sacrificed for democracy, the former national security adviser and secretary of State to Presidents Nixon and Ford could not have negotiated major Arab-Israeli disengagement agreements: Sinai I, Golan and Sinai II. Without the undemocratic, benign dictatorial figure of Anwar Sadat at the helm in Egypt, or without the late Syrian dictator and master terror-broker Hafez Assad, yet another page of war history would have been written.

With a democratic parliament in Egypt in 1974, presumably dominated by the popular Muslim Brotherhood, Sadat could not have made his spectacular, death-defying trip to Jerusalemand suddenly become the most popular leader in Israel. A peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and between Jordan and Israel were possible only because absolute rulersSadat and the late King Hussein, led both Arab countries.

Sadat knew his courageous act of statesmanship was tantamount to signing his own death warrant. It was carried out in 1981 — by Islamist extremistson worldwide television.

Rice proudly proclaims it is no longer a war against terrorism but a struggle for democracy. She is proud the Bush administration no longer pursues stability at the expense of democracy. But already the democracy crusade is not only encountering speed bumps, but also roadblocks on a road to nowhere.

The much-vaunted Palestinian elections scheduled for July have been postponed indefinitely.

In Lebanon, the ballot box has already been nullified by political machinations. Gen. Michael Aoun, a bright but aging prospect who came back from French exile to take on Syria’s underground machine, has already joined forces with Damascus. While denying any deal with Syria, the general’s henchmen concede he was compensated munificently for his retirement years in Paris from his post as army chief of staff and his time as premier. Aoun collected $22 million, which included compound interest.

U Egiptu, Rice, presumably attempting to confer respectability on President Hosni Mubarak’s challengers, took time out to receive a known political charlatan who has over the years been exposed as someone who forged election results as he climbed the ladder of a number of political parties under a variety of labels.

Even Mubarak’s enemies concede Ayman Nour fabricated and forged the signatures of as many as 1,187 citizens to conform to regulations to legalize his Ghad (Tomorrow) party. His career is dotted with phony academic credentials, plagiarism, a staged assassination attempt on himself, charges of embezzlement by his Saudi media employer, and scads of document forgeries.

Rice had canceled a previous trip to Egypt to protest the indictment and jailing of Nour pending trial. And before Rice’s most recent accolade, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had also gone out of her way to praise Egypt’s master political con man. Makes you wonder what kind of political reporting is coming out of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

With this double-headed endorsement by the United States, Nour is losing what little favor he still has in Egypt. He is now seen as a U.S. stooge, to add to a long list of failings.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed but tolerated since it renounced terrorism, is more representative of Egyptian opinion than Nour. There is also the Kifaya (Enough) movement that groups Egypt’s leading intellectuals. But they declined to meet with Rice.

The United States is seen throughout the Arab world as synonymous with Israel. This automatically limits the Bush administration’s ability to win friends and influence people. Those making the most out of U.S. pressure to democratize are organizations listed by the United States asterrorist.Both Hamas in the Palestinian territories and Hezbollah in Lebanon are now mining opportunities both above and underground. Islamic legislators in Jordan petitioned King Abdullah to allow Jordanian Hamas leaders, evicted six years ago, to come home. The king listened impassively.

It took Europe 500 years to reach the degree of political maturity witnessed by the recent collapse of the European Union’s plans for a common constitution. Winston Churchill said democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried. But Churchill also said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.This still applies in the souks of the Arab world, from Marrakech to Muscat.