Jun 12, 2011

Can the Muslim Brotherhood learn from history?

In his autobiography I was President, Mohamed Naguib, Egypt’s first president (June 18, 1953 to November 14, 1954) chronicles the events following the successful coup that overthrew King Farouk in 1952. The book charts the path taken by Egypt’s military leaders from promises of establishing a civilian democratically elected government to the disbanding of political parties and autocracy. Naguib indicates quite clearly the direct role played by the MB in destroying Egypt’s aspirations for democracy. By siding with Nasser against Naguib, they mistakenly thought that they were securing themselves a distinguished place in the nascent political system. They little understood that they were digging their own graves:
During this period, the MB represented the one force that was capable of tipping the balance in favour of either of the two forces competing for power at that time: Nasser’s power and mine. Nasser had to win them to his side. But as soon as he secured their support against me and won the battle, he turned against them and got rid of them. This was what happened.
The MB made a strategic mistake. They had imagined that the disbanding and destruction of political parties would be to their advantage because it made them the only existing political entity. They simply did not realize that a single stick was much easier to break, a conventional wisdom we were taught as children and still teach our children.
… Through my representative Mohamed Riad I made clear my views regarding the necessity of putting an end to military rule and the return of the army to their barracks. I explained the importance of the establishment of a democratic, parliamentary life, the return of political parties and the lifting of censorship on newspapers. But the MB objected to all that and demanded that military rule stayed in power. They also objected to the return of political parties and parliamentary life as well as to the lifting of martial law. They wanted the status quo to continue unchanged. They wished to keep me as sole leader while removing Abdel Nasser and the rest of the revolutionary council from power. They wanted the prospective civilian cabinet to include MB members but reserved the right to approve its formation. They also wanted Rashad Mehanna, one of their members, to be given the post of Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. A secret consultation committee should be set up of military leaders loyal to me and an equal number of MB members. The committee should ratify all laws before being passed and approve the the government. It was as though the MB wished to have total control over the government without bearing any of the responsibilities.
When Mohamed Naguib refused their offer, they had no problem in supporting Nasser and military dictatorship. The rest is of course history.

No comments: