In recent weeks the Muslim Brotherhood has been engaged in public squabbles with the military council over formation of the government. According to most interpretations of the constitutional declaration which guides the transition in Egypt, the presidency – here the military council – has the right to appoint members of the administrative cabinet.
At first the Muslim Brotherhood requested to form a new government, but the military council refused. More recently they are stating they will field a vote of no confidence in the parliament against the Ganzouri government. Though it does not appear this will lead to its fall constitutionally, it may put pressure on the military council to sack it. The Brotherhood may then be poised to inherit this mantle given the legitimacy of its electoral gains.
A major question to be put to the Brotherhood is this: Why now? Ever since the Ganzouri government was appointed in November revolutionary forces have rejected it. The Brotherhood line has been one of patient support, fueling suspicion of a ‘deal’ between them and the military council. Yet their logic was sound; the government is only transitional.
Would their logic be even more true now, with three months remaining until a new president takes office, and with it the right of appointing a cabinet. That is, if such a right remains after drafting a new constitution.
Mahmoud Ghozlan, official spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, put it this way in a statement to Ahram Online:
We initially accepted this government as a replacement for the [previous] cabinet of Essam Sharaf, believing that Ganzouri had considerable experience, especially given that the most pressing issues were security and the economy. Today, however, we realize that the incumbent government is no different from its predecessor. No one was arrested for the massacres at Maspero, Mohamed Mahmoud Street, and Qasr Al-Aini under the Sharaf government, which insisted on blaming all the problems on a ‘third party’.
His mention of Maspero, however, brought back to mind previous statements of the Brotherhood at the time of the massacre, when 28 people were killed during a mostly Coptic demonstration.
At the time, Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie told al-Masry al-Youm he suspected former members of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party were behind the massacre. Furthermore, he rejected the widespread calls for the resignation of the government, saying, ‘Sharaf’s cabinet is a transitional one.’
In addition, ‘We must be a little patient and when there is an elected parliament that monitors the ministers and cabinet elected by the people, it will certainly set in place a long-term plan to solve all problems.’
Why is there no longer any patience? There is an elected parliament, and it is monitoring the ministers and cabinet. Speculation is possible: Was the Brotherhood confident it would capture the legislature but is less sure about the executive branch?
A more revealing memory comes from the official website of the Muslim Brotherhood, IkhwanWeb. Their statement following Maspero also urged patience for the current Sharaf government, but then ended in this manner:
Finally, we remind those who have already forgotten what General Amos Yadlin, former Director of Israeli Military Intelligence, said and published in newspapers on 2/November/2010, before the revolution:
“Egypt represents the biggest playing field for Israeli military intelligence activity. This activity has developed according to plan since 1979. We have penetrated Egypt in many areas, including the political, security, economic, and military spheres. We have succeeded in promoting sectarian and social tension there so as to create a permanent atmosphere of turmoil, in order to deepen the discord between Egyptian society and the government and make it difficult for any regime following that of Hosni Mubarak to alleviate this discord”.
Is it time to wake up?
So while Ghozlan criticizes the Sharaf and Ganzouri governments for blaming a ‘third party’, this was exactly what the Muslim Brotherhood did at the time. Who is a better third party than Israel?
Essentially, the Muslim Brotherhood is correct. No one has yet been held accountable for the massacre at Maspero, though three security personnel are currently submitted to prosecution. Certainly the Ganzouri government, as Sharaf before him, are to be held accountable for this and other as yet prosecuted offenses.
Mahmoud Ghozlan explained the perspective of the Brotherhood in a telephone interview.
The third party in these cases is still unknown, and we are unable to say who it is. It could be remnants of the NDP, corrupt businessmen who have lost their access to power, former regime members now in Tora Prison, or foreign powers.
But the role of the government is to find the culprit and keep security, and they have not done so.
In the days of Sharaf we gave him lots of opportunity, but he failed. This is the same of Ganzouri, who had much more experience for the job. But he has made the same mistakes as Sharaf, especially in terms of the Port Said massacre and the economic situation. Additionally his statement before parliament failed to impress many members, not just from the Brotherhood.
As for the difference between patience with Sharaf and eagerness now to form a government, Ghozlan clarified,
With Sharaf there was no evidence as to the political balance of power. But now after elections we see it distributed in parliament. Therefore, it is logical that these powers be left to represent the people.
Concerning the right of parliament to form a government according to the constitutional declaration, which most experts deny, Ghozlan explained,
The constitutional declaration was only temporary. In fact, the military council stated in the beginning they would only govern for six months and then return to their barracks.
It is known that any parliament in the world is responsible for oversight over the executive branch. Furthermore, we are like any other parliament with the right of legislation. Therefore, it is necessary we exercise these rights and hold them accountable.
Ghozlan was unaware if a date for a vote of no confidence has yet been set by the parliament. This is a matter in the hands of the speaker, Saad al-Katatni.
With these additional comments Ghozlan makes clearer the case of Brotherhood legitimacy. Yet however legitimate the complaint, are they operating under false pretenses? Observers must answer this for themselves, for who can know the heart of those involved. The only evidence available is their words and deeds, past and present.
But still, why now?
- Muslim Brotherhood Ties Israel Peace to US Aid amidst NGO Crisis – March 5, 2012
- The Blind Sheikh and the NGO Crisis: Rally at the US Embassy – February 19, 2012
- Clashes, Deaths at Coptic Protest at Maspero – October 10, 2011