The message delivered in the press conferences held by Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Leader Mohamed Badei and his deputy the group’s strongman Khairat al-Shater was an aggressive one on both the internal and the external levels and confirmed rumors that the two of them are running the party and the government and that President Mohamed Mursi is only a façade.
However, when Mursi revoked his “unconstitutional” declaration, people were reassured that he is still at the helm and that hostile statements made by Badei and Shater were no more than a miscalculated response that attempted to contain the anger that swept the Egyptian streets.
Mursi’s retraction on the Constitutional Declaration was the most important decision he has made since he came to power. It showed that he is a wise politician, a pragmatic rather than a dogmatic one who is aware that saving the country takes precedence over saving face and that disagreements with the opposition can be solved. His decision narrowed the gap, gave him more support in the street, and embarrassed the opposition. Most importantly, it saved the new Egyptian regime from an inevitable demise that could have triggered violent clashes, possible intervention by the army, and a return to square one.
As for claims by Badei and Shater that the opposition is driven by external and internal conspiracies, this is absolute nonsense to say the least, an attempt to evade the problem rather than face it. The opposition’s actions are neither groundless nor sudden and that is why it is not possible to say that are orchestrated by a conspiracy. The opposition did not contest the results of the presidential elections in which Mursi won with a 1% difference. The conspiracy theory is, therefore, not valid.
The president decided all of a sudden to take control of the judiciary, dismiss the prosecutor general, authorize a constitution that only caters to the needs of the Muslim Brotherhood, and make his decisions uncontestable in court. He, thus, broke the rules and violated the oath. Is it surprising that the opposition would respond in such a way and that the people would take to the streets and object to these decisions? Of course, it sounds logical, yet neither Badei nor Shater anticipated this and when it happened they decided to get back at the opposition before it jeopardizes their authority like what they did with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and with the prosecutor general.
Mursi has become a legitimate president and is expected to respect the system that brought him to power and not to abuse it because when he tried to, the people responded with protests that shook Egypt and proved that the Muslim Brotherhood do not represent all Egyptians, but are just a portion of them. The Egyptian people expressed their objection to Mursi’s decision through taking him at his word when he used a saying by Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab and asked the people to help him if he is right and correct him if he is wrong.
How is the alleged internal and external conspiracy related to the demonstrations staged by the Egyptian people in protest of Mursi’s decision, especially that they came in the wake of provocative actions like putting the Brotherhood’s constitution to a referendum?
We all know who Badei and Shater mean by the “external parties.” They mean the Gulf and other countries. They are therefore accusing countries that have, in fact, played a major role in maintaining stability in Egypt since the fall of Mubarak’s regime and not the other way round. Muslim Brotherhood leaders are aware that many members of the group have been working in the Gulf for decades and have never been harassed in any way. On the contrary, their presence contributes to the financial and cultural exchange between Egypt and the Gulf.
There are, of course, concerns about the coming to power of the Muslim Brotherhood owing to its close ties with Iran, the Gulf’s main enemy. But like all other regimes in the region, coexistence is necessary, especially that this was the choice of the Egyptian people and we need to respect it. So far, the signals President Mursi is sending are reassuring and, in all cases, countries in the Gulf region are not in the habit of meddling into the internal affairs of its neighbors based on doubts and assumptions.
The supreme guide and Brotherhood hawks need to realize that their main, if not only, concern should be solving the problems of the Egyptian people. This will never happen without establishing a dialogue with internal powers and stirring clear from laying the blame on external ones.
Abdul Rahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. This article was first published on Dec. 10, 2012