Egypt Becoming a Nightmare for Muslim Brothers

By Zvi Mazel

For the Muslim Brotherhood, the long awaited dream come true is turning into a nightmare. Having survived 80 years of persecution to achieve power democratically, they suddenly find themselves the focus of widespread popular hatred.

Never have Egyptians been in such dire economic traits.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, however, is not about to give up and make way for new presidential elections. The Brotherhood will spare no effort to stay in power.

Such is the depth of the economic, social and political crisis that the threat of civil war appears all too real.

Most commentators believe the army won't let things go that far and will step in; however the road back to recovery and a civilian regime accepted by all will be long and arduous.

Civil disobedience is rampant.

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In Port Said the police have disappeared from the streets and the army called in to maintain law and order. Indeed here and there people are petitioning the courts to appoint popular Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to rule Egypt in Morsi's stead. They know it won't happen but are trying to make a point. Demonstrations calling for getting rid of Morsi and of the Brotherhood are held on a daily basis in Cairo and in cities all over the country. They are met by militant groups of the Brotherhood. Dozens have died and thousands were wounded in the resulting clashes though both sides are trying not to let the violence escalate.

The economy is in shambles.

In a remarkable and enduring show of unity, non-Islamic opposition parties under the banner of the National Salvation Front are boycotting the regime until their demands - canceling the Islamic constitution and setting up a consensus government until new elections are held - are met.

The Muslim Brotherhood who had won a sweeping victory in the first free parliamentary elections and got their candidate elected president have bitterly disappointed the people who had put their faith in them.

Nothing has been done to improve their lot. Upon taking office Morsi had promised - and failed - to take care of five burning issues within a hundred days: growing insecurity, monster traffic jams in the capital, lack of fuel and cooking gas, lack of subsidized bread, and the mounting piles of refuse in the streets.

The president's high-handed attempt to take over all legislative powers and grant himself full immunity provoked such an outcry that he had to back down. He sacked the prosecutor-general and appointed a new one - only to have his decision overthrown by the Cairo Court of Cassation last week, throwing the judicial system into disarray.

It seems that such unwise and unpopular moves were taken without prior consultations with his advisers and that in fact it was the Supreme Guidance Bureau of the Brotherhood which had urged Morsi to do so. In other words, the president is acting as a proxy for the movement.

Dissatisfaction is now evident everywhere. Elections held in students' union throughout the country saw Brotherhood candidates defeated by independent candidates. Worse, elections to the key Journalists' Syndicate saw the victory of Diaa Rashwan, head of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic studies and bitter opponent of the Brotherhood.

In other words the movement is losing both the youth and the elites.

Yet the regime plods on as if unaware of the fact that times have changed and that people are no longer afraid to take to the streets to fight for the future of their country.

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The writer, a fellow of The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden.

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