Failure of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt weakens regional plans
MASS demonstrations by millions flocking on to the streets of Egypt’s cities to protest at the year-long rule of their President Mohammed Morsi turned to jubilation as he was removed from power on July 3, 2013. But the army's actions to oust him will have wide-ranging implications domestically, regionally and economically.
The role the Egyptian armed forces have played in this drama were pivotal and they have made it clear through Facebook statements and with their helicopter displays above the crowds of anti-Morsi demonstrators that their allegiance is with the people demonstrating against the Muslim Brotherhood leadership.
Dr Morsi was removed in what has been described as a ‘soft coup’ by the armed forces, just one year after being elected Egypt’s first democratically-elected president.
The army announced that Adli Mansour, 68, the chief justice of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court - who was given this role by Dr Morsi on June 1 - will act as interim head of state until new presidential elections can be arranged.
The game-changer has been that opposition factions have succeeded in rattling the Muslim Brotherhood with sheer numbers and have had the backing of Egypt’s army.
It was significant that the security forces remained on the sidelines as anti-Morsi demonstrators attacked the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters, ransacking and looting it at will on July 1, 2013.
Both the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule and Dr Morsi’s position as president were significantly weakened by events.
They are accused of failure to govern, incompetence and mismanagement since Dr Morsi was inaugurated on June 30, 2012.
The immediate result of the Muslim Brotherhood’s failure to manage Egypt will be to weaken its global and regional programme and plans. It will also undermine the position of its sister organisations across the Middle East, particularly as the Islamist constitution, drafted and approved in 2012, has been suspended.
The opposition considered the constitution to be an assault on Egypt’s identity and many Arab countries looked with alarm as it was ratified.
Former Arab League secretary and former Egyptian foreign minister Amr Musa, who is also a leading liberal nationalist, said the Muslim Brotherhood’s failure had very little to do with being Islamists but showed incompetence.
A reputation for mismanagement and incompetence is the worst possible regional outcome for the Muslim Brotherhood. Arab citizens across the Middle East will now think twice before contemplating support for a political organisation which is seen as incompetent when solutions to youth unemployment, social cohesion, political reform and economic regeneration are needed.
It is clear that the regional reach of the Muslim Brotherhood will start to wane significantly as its experiment fails in the largest country in the Arab world.
The danger remains from elements of an embittered Muslim Brotherhood, particularly the extremist and violent Jamaa Islamia which waged an armed struggle against previous Egyptian regimes. This group may revert to violence and terrorism following rejection of the Muslim Brotherhood.
A key failure of the Muslim Brotherhood government was the economy. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) dropped massively from more than US$13 billion in 2008, US$6 billion in 2009 and just US$2 billion in 2012.
Tourism revenue, accounting for 11 per cent of Egypt’s GDP, had dropped by 40 per cent since 2010. And revenue from ships using the Suez Canal, another key source of foreign currency, had dropped from US$434.6 million in May 2012 to US$406.1 million in April 2013.
Continued instability is the enemy of economic growth and investment and these indicators are unlikely to improve over the next couple of years. Investors will wait for clarity, certainty and stability before they commit funds.
Egypt’s economic recovery will also be affected by the attitude of Arab Gulf States - traditionally large investors in Egypt - towards any new settlement. They have been stung by the Muslim Brotherhood’s hostile posture in supporting sister Muslim Brotherhood organisations in the Gulf and by prosecuting key Gulf investors on charges of corruption immediately on assuming government.
Any new administration in Egypt will have to rebuild the economy by re-establishing the warm ties which existed with the Gulf States under President Hosni Mubarak’s administration from 1981 to 2011.
The longer the Egyptian crisis continues the more likely it is that it may lead to instability, violence and civil war.