It wasn’t long after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation that talk of the Muslim Brotherhood arose, and U.S. analysts and Egyptians on the street began speculating about the Muslim Brotherhood’s potential involvement in Egypt’s future. After being banned for decades during Mubarak’s presidency, on June 8, 2011, Egypt’s interim government recognized the Brotherhood’s new party, the Freedom and Justice Party, as an official Egyptian political party eligible to nominate candidates in future elections.
On Monday, the Freedom and Justice Party made its first move and announced that it plans to form a coalition with the Wafd Party, one of the oldest liberal parties in Egypt. A day earlier, the Muslim Brotherhood announced it will not field a candidate in Egypt’s presidential elections that will be held in September. Former Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Mahdi Akef stated, “To run [for the presidency] is against Egypt’s best interests, as the US and the west are against the Brotherhood and at home, secularists are against the Brotherhood.”
Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Shura council members outside the new Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo.
What can be made of the Brotherhood’s recent moves? The organization seemingly hopes to gain an increase in support from their newly formed coalition with Egypt’s liberal party and change public opinion of the group’s motives. Both Egyptians and the West are concerned that the Brotherhood will attempt to influence Cairo once it gains power, slowly turning it into a radicalized Islamic state like Hezbollah is doing in Lebanon or Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
But don’t let the Brotherhood’s recent moves fool you. In a June 2 speech posted to the Brotherhood’s website, leader Mohamed Badie stated: “Allah has warned us the tricks of the Jews, and their role in igniting the fire of wars…. I do not imagine the Americo-Zionist alliance wants our blessed revolution to reach its objectives, in the forefront of which are: that we enjoy freedom in our land, that we be independent in our decision and that we have sovereignty over our homelands.”
Indeed, the Brotherhood remains the same. And if Badie’s June 2 speech is any indication, its renewed presence will ultimately influence U.S.-Egyptian and Israeli-Egyptian relations in the future, most likely for the worst.