A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, January 27, 2012

Divide and Rule in Tahrir

Today's Cairo demonstrations, multiple marches to Tahrir all aimed at protesting military rule, have apparently included both renewed instances of sexual harassment and assault, which has become all too common in Egypt, and clashes between the young revolutionaries and the Muslim Brotherhood. So far I have mostly bits and pieces from Twitter and may have the wrong impression, but if the theme of the afternoon was tension between the young revolutionaries and the Islamists, then it's a good day for SCAF. My personal sentiments lie closer to those of the revolutionaries, but the elections demonstrated that the MB represent a broad and real sector of Egyptian public opinion. "The people" who are demanding the fall of military rule are the same people who elected the Brotherhood with 47% of the seats in Parliament. Polarization between the demonstrators and the Brotherhood, unfortunately, simply entrenches the Army: in fact, it adds to the impression, which the Army loves to foster, that the Army is the only guarantee of order.

If the revolutionaries and the Islamists go to war with each other before the Islamists have actually done anything objectionable, the revolutionaries ensure their own defeat. That doesn't mean the Brotherhood wins; it means the Army wins. The revolutionaries, to be sure, believe the MB are allied with the Army. The MB may think so too. I suspect the Army sees things rather differently: its is playing its foes against each other. If that the case then the verdict for today has to be: Advantage: Army.

Via Hossam Bahgat

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