RECOMMENDED READING: “Egypt’s Brotherhood Still Operates Secretively”


AP has posted an article titled “Egypt’s Brotherhood still operates secretively” that looks at the continuing secrecy and covert operations of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The article begins:

Feb. 21 2:31 CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi speaks publicly of firsthand knowledge of a meeting where opponents allegedly plotted against him. A few months earlier, the most powerful man in his Muslim Brotherhood group, Khairat el-Shater, says he has access to recordings of former military rulers and electoral officials engineering his disqualification from last year’s presidential race. In Egypt, those statements are seen by security officials, former members of the Islamist group and independent media as strong hints that the Brotherhood might be running its own intelligence-gathering network outside of government security agencies and official channels. Such concerns dovetail the Brotherhood, which has a long history of operating clandestinely, to suspicion that it remains a shadowy group with operations that may overlap with the normal functions of a state. Brotherhood supporters also demonstrated militia-like capabilities at anti-Morsi protests in December. Another oft-heard charge comes from the Foreign Ministry, where officials complain that the president relies more on trusted Brotherhood advisers than those inside the ministry in formulating foreign policy. The Brotherhood emerged from Egypt’s 2011 uprising as the country’s dominant political group and Morsi was elected president in June of last year as the group’s candidate. The motive for setting up parallel operations could be rooted in the fact that many government bodies, such as security agencies and the judiciary, are still dominated by appointees of the ousted regime of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak or anti-Islamists with long-held suspicions of the Brotherhood. The perception that such agencies are hostile to the country’s new Islamist leaders lends their rule an embattled aspect despite a string of electoral victories. ‘The problem with the Brotherhood is that they came to power but are still dealing with the nation as they did when they were in the opposition,’ said Abdel-Jalil el-Sharnoubi, former editor-in-chief of the group’s website who left the Brotherhood in May 2011. ‘Because they cannot trust the state, they have created their own,’ he added. The notion of a state within a state has precedents elsewhere in the Arab world. In Lebanon, the Iranian-backed Shiite Hezbollah is the de facto government in much of the south and east of the country and has its own army and telephone network.

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