As the date for holding the first session of the comprehensive national dialogue, in early July, is quickly approaching, the organizing committee of the dialogue had to put an end to the widely raised controversy about the potential participation of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The national dialogue shall include all shades of the Egyptian political sphere. Everyone is invited and welcomed, except for those whose hands are stained with the Egyptian blood, and those legally labeled as terrorists;” confirmed Diaa Rashwan, the General Coordinator of the National Dialogue, in clear reference to the Muslim Brotherhood group.
Since December 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood has been officially designated, in Egypt and some Arab countries, as a terrorist organization. Over the past five years, the Egyptian judiciary has sentenced hundreds of the Muslim Brotherhood members, including supreme and middle leaders, to lifetime and death penalties. Most of these sentences are based on evidence, validated by the courts, that the Muslim Brotherhood elements had been involved in committing violent crimes against civilians, policemen, and state facilities, between 2013 and 2015, with the purpose to disturb the public order, following their ouster from power in June 2013.
Ironically, around the same time the inaugurating session of the national dialogue is supposed to be convened, the Egyptian state will be celebrating the eighth anniversary of the June 30th uprising that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood regime from power, and paved the way for the building of the new republic under the leadership of the current president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. According to the coordinating committee of the national dialogue, the main goal of bringing all the political parties together is “to renew the spirit of national unity that prevailed throughout the June 30 revolution, which aimed to save the Egyptian nation-state by forcing the Muslim Brotherhood regime out of power.”
This is, allegedly, the first time an official statement is clearly declared in response to the Muslim Brotherhood calls for reconciliation with the Egyptian state. As soon as the Egyptian President called for a comprehensive political dialogue, in April, the Muslim Brotherhood leaders, who are now divided in two warring factions working from London and Istanbul, responded to the call by declaring willingness to participate. They, also, offered conditions for concession, including for example demanding the Egyptian state to release the member of the Muslim Brotherhood from the Egyptian prisons.
At least four times, since their ouster from power, the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, especially those based in London, offered negotiations for reconciliation with President El-Sisi. They, even, tried to push some secular Egyptian and western politicians and media figures, who are sympathizing with them, to mediate for convincing the Egyptian leadership to talk with them. However, their calls have always been received with aloofness by the Egyptian state. To their disappointment, the latest statement by the coordinator of the national dialogue cut their last hope for making a return to the Egyptian politics.
What the Muslim Brotherhood fails to understand is that they cannot make an easy comeback to the Egyptian politics, at the time being. On one hand, the Muslim Brotherhood is intensely enfeebled by the horizontal divisions, on the level of leadership, and the vertical divisions, on the level of grassroots supporters. There is no unified leadership that can lead negotiations or even instruct the future of the group.
On the other hand, the current Egyptian state, coined as “the new republic,” is preserving a stable and coherent political environment that is much different from the chaotic aftermath of the Arab Spring aftermath, which enabled the group to reach the top of power. In addition, the current Egyptian state is adopting a completely different approach and strategy, than the accommodating approach that the Mubarak regime adopted towards the Islamist group.
The legacy and the popularity of the current state leadership is mainly based on the central role that President El-Sisi had played in ridding Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood. That is, also, one of the main reasons why the state is generously supported by Arab Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has dedicated themselves to fighting against the rising power of the Muslim Brotherhood, following the eruption of the Arab Spring revolutions, a decade ago.
Although it is not realistic to expect that the Muslim Brotherhood may be allowed to return back to practicing politics from Egypt, any time soon, it is also unrealistic to expect that this will remain the case forever. Sooner or later, the Muslim Brotherhood could get over divisions and try to open new direct or indirect channels of communication with the Egyptian state.
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