RECOMMENDED READING: “Reports Of The Muslim Brotherhood’s Demise Were Greatly Exaggerated”


Analyst Eric Trager, writing for the New Republic, has published an analysis of the Egyptian presidential election results titled “Reports of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Demise Were Greatly Exaggerated” explaining the failure of the media and pundits to anticipate the victory by plurality of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood  candidate. The article begins: 

In the run-up to the first round of Egypt’s presidential elections, which concluded on Thursday, the Muslim Brotherhood’s downfall was widely anticipated. Only four months after winning a 47-percent plurality in the parliamentary elections, The Washington Post reported that the Brotherhood’s stock was ‘plunging,’ while The Wall Street Journal insisted that the Brotherhood’s fortunes had ‘faded’ due to ‘mounting public criticism’ and ‘internal defections.’ Pre-elections polls bolstered this storyline, pegging support for notoriously uncharismatic Brotherhood nominee Mohamed Morsi at a paltry three to nine percent, and it was widely expected that many Muslim Brothers would buck their parent organization and support ex-Brotherhood leader Abdel Monem Abouel Fotouh. Yet reports of the Muslim Brotherhood’s demise, it seems, were greatly exaggerated: Morsi won a first-round plurality with roughly 26 percent of the vote, and will face former Mubarak regime figure Ahmed Shafik in the second round, which begins on June 16. Morsi’s strong performance, which comes despite his many deficiencies as a candidate, is a testament to the Muslim Brotherhood’s unmatched mobilizing capabilities, which have made the organization’s political dominance practically inevitable since the moment that Hosni Mubarak resigned.It is not merely that the Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt’s ‘best organized’ group, as many commentators frequently note. It is the only organized group, with a nationwide hierarchy that can quickly transmit commands from its Cairo-based Guidance Office (maktab al-irshad) to its 600,000 members scattered throughout Egypt. The hierarchy works as follows: The twenty-member Guidance Office sends its marching orders to deputies in each governorate (muhafaza), who communicate with their deputies in each ‘sector’ (quita), who communicate with their deputies in each ‘area’ (muhafaza), who communicate with their deputies in each ‘populace’ (shoaba), who finally communicate with the leaders of each Brotherhood ‘family’ (usra), which is comprised of five Muslim Brothers and represents the organization’s most basic unit. This chain of command is used for executing all Guidance Office decisions, including commanding Muslim Brothers to participate in protests, organize social services, and—during the most recent elections—campaign and vote for Mohamed Morsi. There are two additional elements of the Muslim Brotherhood’s internal structure that ensure that the Brotherhood leadership’s commands are followed. First, the social lives of members are deeply embedded within the organization. Muslim Brothers meet with their five-person Brotherhood ‘families’ at least weekly, where they study religious texts, discuss politics, organize local Brotherhood activities, and share their private lives with one another. Muslim Brothers’ deepest personal relationships thus emerge within the organization, and there is a great disincentive to buck the Brotherhood leadership’s commands, since doing so risks alienation from their closest friends and mentors.

A post from yesterday reported on what appears to be a narrow victory by Dr. Mohamed Morsi who face Mubarak’s final prime minister in the runoff election.

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