Ibrahim Mounir, the Muslim Brotherhood’s deputy guide, shot down suggestions of a rapprochement between the group and the Egyptian regime in the face of coronavirus. Mounir said the concept of “national reconciliation” is not in the group’s dictionary, when there is a coup or General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on the other side.
Mounir claimed that the group was still strong and had a presence on the street, according to an interview with Arabi 21 news website. Mounir’s allegations about the group’s power came despite the disappearance of any evidence of that strength over recent years, especially in light of the arrest of most of the group’s leaders, and the exile of several prominent members.
Mounir stressed that al-Sisi is fundamentally unpatriotic. He added: “al-Sisi is the root of all evil, the cause of all calamity, and he has given an exclusion speech at a time when our country needs all Egyptian walks of life.”
After months of the coup against Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically elected civilian president who was affiliated with the Brotherhood, the Egyptian authorities banned the group, a characterisation that the group has been accustomed to since its foundation in 1928, then later branded them as terrorists. Mounir continued: “This man has no mind and has no guidance. He only cares about remaining in his obsolete position, and bases his presence on division, discord, and societal and political division. This is the secret of his existence, his survival, and his continuation until now.” He pointed out that the Brotherhood does not accept the term “national reconciliation” with al-Sisi, because he is a person who is fundamentally unpatriotic. He asked, “How do we reconcile with him?”. He added: “There will be no reconciliation between us and al-Sisi, there is no room for reconciliation with the coup… especially after he wasted the Egyptian state’s money, land, and the blood of its soldiers.”
Four years of initiatives
For more than four years, several parties, including Egyptian thinkers, foreign parties and diplomats, have adopted initiatives for a political settlement that ends the state of societal division in the country and leads to a comprehensive reconciliation, but to no avail. As those initiatives decline, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi assumed a second term for the country until 2022. Mounir pointed out that “no one can give al-Sisi safety, there are bereaved mothers, widows, orphans, families of martyrs and detainees.” He asked: “Does anyone imagine that the Brotherhood will forget those rights? We have not and will not forget them whatever happens.” He added: “True national reconciliation takes place with the Egyptian people, all the national movements, and with all the wise and honourable in all the institutions of the Egyptian state.”
Postponing the differences, not reconciliation
“We are with any serious and reasonable attempt to save Egypt, and our announcement of postponing political differences was not for al-Sisi at all, but for the sake of our people, who suffer calamities and crises after crises.” The Brotherhood’s deputy leader added: “We will continue to communicate with the Egyptian people, stand by them and support them in the corona crisis. We seek to reduce their effects according to our capabilities and the tools we have, and we will never abandon our people.” He added: “We are not asking to be presidents, and we do not want to participate in the ruling party again, and this man who carried out the coup alone, will remain alone.” He continued: “Societal and political division is the secret of al-Sisi’s presence, and his continuation of power until now, as he seeks to ignite the Egyptian crisis, and he fancies that he sits at a high summit and no one will reach him.” He explained his speech, saying: “Al-Sisi follows the well-known strategy of creating enemies to implement his plans, and to try to ensure that he remains in power for as long as possible, and to justify his catastrophic failure at all levels.” Mounir added, speaking of Al-Sisi, “Even if he does not have enemies, he will create his own enemies for himself and make them on his (and others) eyes. This is a well-known approach for all tyrants. “
MB’s power and the imaginary enemy
The Brotherhood’s deputy leader considered that al-Sisi’s talk about the Brotherhood’s return is a testament to the group’s strength and that it is still capable of change. Mounir claimed that “the group’s support has now doubled at home and abroad, compared to what the Brotherhood obtained in the 2012 elections,” but he did not provide evidence of that. Mounir predicted that the fate of al-Sisi was similar to the former Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu, whose country was burning beneath his feet, and yet he refused to implement political reform. He pointed out that al-Sisi is following the same path, and he will be surprised by a fate that will not be worse than the fate of the previous fool, referring to the ousted president Mohammed Hosni Mubarak, who was overthrown by a popular revolution. Contrary to what Mounir said, observers believe that al-Sisi’s repeated warning of the Brotherhood’s return is imaginary, not because of the group’s strength. Over the past few years, the Brotherhood has not organised a clear popular protest, under the weight of the severe security repression of the Egyptian regime. But others say that this may be due to the group losing its ability to mobilise people, especially in light of the arrest of most of its leaders. Observers say that deep problems have hit the Muslim Brotherhood during the past few years, and that the group has suffered from the split of several important leaders, some of them in the guidance bureau, the highest executive authority in the group.
Reconciliation expectations evaporated
During the past week, The Muslim Brotherhood presented its vision of how to participate in facing the corona pandemic inside Egypt during a press conference held on Sunday afternoon via video conference technology, under the title “Cooperation and participation is obligatory.” During the conference, the participants discussed the priorities from the Brotherhood’s point of view to confront the epidemic, in the medical, legal and economic fields. At the conference, the Brotherhood announced the formation of a committee of specialists including medical professors, economists, Sharia scholars, and media professionals, to prepare expert content on the issue. Muslim Brothers stressed, in the words of the conference presenter, that despite the blockade, prosecutions, and restrictions that have been imposed on it, it will still provide what it can for Egypt considering that this is a “duty and obligation for every Egyptian who is sincere.”
Muslim Brothers announced during the conference that the priority is to confront this epidemic through solidarity and mutual support among all Egyptian people. The group called on the media to be accurate in conveying facts, enhancing the national interest, and ensuring complete transparency and continuous disclosure as a way to avoid rumours or misplaced interpretations. It also called for the release of detainees and prisoners as one of the measures to resist this pandemic. The statement included a clear change of tone compared to previous statements. They did not describe the Egyptian regime as a bloody military coup, and the statement did not stress the need to overthrow General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The Brotherhood did not attack the regime’s decisions to counter the coronavirus, for example, and neither did they criticise the imposition of curfews or the closure of mosques.
Observers considered that this statement might be a prelude to a rapprochement between the group and the regime, but the regime, as usual, ignored all calls for national reconciliation. Mounir’s statements are evidence that these expectations are not realistic.