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Egypt's brothers rise.


By James P. Farwell & Marvin Weinbaum

The authors, a defense consultant and scholar in residence at the Middle East Institute, lay out a convincing case that the leopard has not changed its spots-in this case the leopard being the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, which in the wake of the revolution there has put on a kinder, gentler face. The authors skeptically view as a ruse the Brothers' new outreach to the public and, perhaps more importantly, the United States, a major donor to their financially strapped country.

Farwell and Weinbaum nevertheless hold out hope that the democracy movement in Egypt can avoid an Islamic government, citing various polls that indicate the public views the Muslim Brotherhood favorably but not as their government of choice.

Depicting Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, and Nobel Prize winner Mohamed elBaradei-candidates for Egypt's presidency-as "hugely popular," the authors seem to believe that the pro-democracy movement has a chance to overcome the vastly superior organizing abilities of the Muslim Brotherhood despite its cozy relationship with the ruling military regime. The authors do admit that achieving a democratic victory will become much more challenging if the elections are held early. If so, the diffusion and fragmentation of the pro-democratic and secular parties will weaken their cause in the face of a more unified Muslim Brotherhood.

Farwell and Weinbaum nevertheless hold out the hope that that the Muslim Brotherhood's previous negative attitude toward rights for women and Coptic Christians will hurt their election chances. Nor has the Muslim Brotherhood shown it can do much of anything to create jobs or get the economy moving.

The critical unknown not discussed by the authors is the attitude of the enigmatic military junta governing Egypt. Just how eager will its members be to yield power and step back into the shadows? Or like the "Free Officers" of the Nasser era, will contending circles of power emerge with conflicting viewpoints?

Reviewed by Norvell B. DeAtkine

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Title Annotation:Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt
Author:DeAtkine, Norvell B.
Publication:American Diplomacy
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Jul 25, 2011
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