After the Egyptian revolution managed to oust Mubarak, I predicted a fragmented political life in Egypt with tensions between Islamists vs. Seculars, Muslim Brotherhood vs. Salafis and the military vs. everyone else. This prediction was not unique as many Egyptians saw it coming. What I didn’t expect is the accelerated consolidation of powers in the hands of the Islamists. Today they control the People’s Assembly, Shura Council and any future president of Egypt has to be supported by the Brotherhood to win.
The Brotherhood announced it would not run a candidate in the coming presidential elections and claims it will not support any of the candidates. I have my doubts about both assertions. Less than a year ago the Brotherhood promised to only run for 35% of the parliament seats, they now control almost half of the seats. I imagine they are carefully considering their options on whether to formally support a candidate or support a candidate from behind the scenes.
When the Brotherhood announced its disinterest in the presidency, it was trying to assure the West and the financial markets through sending a signal that they are pragmatic and want to pursue a balanced approach to governing. Now the realities and the assumptions on the ground are different. The Brotherhood knows that the seculars are weak with no real presence in the street (elections results); the West is wiling to play politics with whoever in power (accepting the Egyptian military abuses and now the radical Salafis) and if they don’t control the process, a Salafi may become Egypt’s next president (the Salafis will probably have a candidate).
The Brotherhood, in my opinion, will probably go for a transitional non-Islamist president to lead Egypt for the coming six years. Amr Moussa will fit their criteria: pragmatic (he will dance with them), anti-America and Israel (will make them look moderate especially that Moussa is all bark), welcomed by the military (he is part of the old regime just like the generals), tolerated by the West (hey, he drinks and speaks good English!) and old (he will be 82 after the end of his first term). Also, the Brotherhood doesn’t want to control all aspects of the decision making in Egypt as voters will hold them fully responsible in the next elections. In other words, it is better to have a friendly scapegoat ready.