The political process that is currently taking place all over the Arab region can be characterized from various points of view. A wide range of investigators has already concluded that Muslim mentality has already achieved its peak, and it manifests in a number of movements which bear purely military character. One of such movements is called “Muslim Brotherhood.”
In fact, it seems to be hardly possible to give a definite response to this massive and diverse socio-political phenomenon of “Muslim Brotherhood”. One could argue that the “Muslim Brotherhood” sets the tone of Muslim political thought that is currently referred to as political Islam. “Muslim Brotherhood” and close to them by ideology movements and organizations in the Arab world were formed and evolved under the influence of various factors. In some states, they could fit into the political system and the functioning of the parliamentary parties, in other countries they had been banned, radicalized and might resort to terror. In Egypt, for instance, “Muslim Brotherhood” have been banned for decades. Not being able to participate in politics, they became spokesmen whose conservative outlooks were determined by the social, religious, and educational work.
Consequently, in the light of recent events, which are taking part in the Arab region and have a tendency to influence the whole world, there is a necessity in studying the phenomenon of “Muslim Brotherhood.” Thus, this paper discusses the key factors which influenced the formation and functioning of the movement, its political role and participation in the Arab Spring. These issues are of a great importance, since they produce a negative impact on the world community.
Background of Muslim Brotherhood
The “Muslim Brotherhood” movement is generally regarded as the oldest Islamic radical organization. It is known to be founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Bennoy. It exists around the world, and is mainly represented in the parliament of Egypt. The “Muslim Brotherhood” served as a firm basis for many terrorist and radical Islamic groups in the Middle East to come out. It aims at establishing a common and global Islamic state that is supposed to live under Sharia law. The movement is known to comprise of more than 10 million people.
It has been uncovered that the organization is in constant contact with the Islamic Army of Osama bin Laden. According to the operative data of the FBI, the “Muslim Brotherhood” movement is currently active in the Central Asian countries and the Muslim regions of Russia. The organization used to participate in the Chechen War, which was believed to be financed by gangs and militant camp.
Until 1993, the organization has focused on the preparation of plans, training of militants, gathering information in order to commit the penetration of state power institutions and the strictest secrecy and privacy at work (Talhamy). Since 1993, the organization has moved to an open armed confrontation with the government by organizing a series of terrorist attacks against public and officials. Militants of this organization repeatedly carried out the attacks that have been aimed at the foreign tourists. In February 1990, for instance, the terrorists launched an attack on the Israeli tourists. In 1995 and 1998, a bomb exploded in the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad (Pakistan). It means that they were likely to plan an attack on the US Embassy in Albania (Allagui and Kuebler 2).
Among other targets of the organization, there was the Coptic minority in Egypt. Anti-Coptic terrorism was deployed in 1972 and continued during 1970-80ies. It had frequently taken the form of the riots. The terrorists were known to detonate several bombs in the Coptic Church. Thus, in order to understand the nature and outlooks of the movement in question, it is necessary to come up with their definition. Thus, Allagui and Kuebler have a conviction that “these people aligned themselves against their enemy, the president, and their attitudes and beliefs changed due to their political engagement” (2).
At a certain amount of time later, the “Muslim Brotherhood” have weakened their position, without taking any of the potentially allied parties. Corruption under the President Mursi was not less, but greater than under Mubarak’s governance. The economists stated that the economy had collapsed. Moreover, the plan of “Muslim Brothers” about the Islamic revolution was to begin with the arrests in the Army governance.
Muslim Brotherhood and Their Role in Politics
The removal of Mohamed Morsi as Egypt’s President marked the end of the reign of the “Muslim Brotherhood” in the Arab world. Moreover, the Army announced its shift, pulling the living social forces, including the so-called ‘scientists’ of the al-Azhar University. The failure of Mohamed Morsi represented a cruel blow for the West and its allies, for Qatar and Turkey (Pierce 69).
The fact of the military coup in the country caused the ambiguous reactions. On the one hand, it was supported by millions of secular-minded Egyptians. By the time of the coup, they had staged several days of rallies and demonstrations across the country, demanding the resignation of the Islamist Morsi. On the other hand, there are millions of other people of the province whom Mohamed Morsi impressed.
The fact of the military coup deprived Egypt last chance to establish a stable legitimate democratic government that would be capable of taking serious political decisions. The question of who could likely win in the confrontation between the Egyptian Islamists and secularists is not as important since an economic collapse expects the country in the nearest future. The fall of Ikhwan also virtually made an end to the political model, which offered the region the “Arab Spring” manifested in an Islamic democracy. For a variety of reasons, the Arab world and its essential political outlooks were not ready for this form of democracy (Allagui and Kuebler 3).
As a consequence, the “Muslim Brotherhood” has faced a number of challenges which bear the political character. Vidino believes that the largest “challenge to the “Muslim Brotherhood’s” power comes from the ‘deep state,’ large and powerful administrative and judicial bodies with strong ties to the former regimes and little sympathy for the “Muslim Brotherhood” (9). It means that the difficulty of the movement has been caused by the lack of organization and the constant military conflicts that have a tendency to weaken them both in external and internal way.
In addition, the form of government that might have been proposed by the “Muslim Brotherhood” would have to be more exact. This is explained by Roberts who stated that “the formative role which Muslim Brotherhood members played in establishing and staffing some… bureaucracy” (84) could not go together with the Islamic democracy formation. Another fact, which is worth of regarding, is the inner changes in the “Muslim Brotherhood.” The majority of the investigators noted that as soon as “Syrian society was growing more deeply religious… the Brotherhood was growing more outwardly secular” (Talhamy 35). It means that the absence of the firm position and vision of the future perspectives could have contributed to the fact that the military conflict and the thousands of deaths it caused have been in vein.
Muslim Brotherhood and Arab Spring
The “Arab Spring” events began by following the similar scenario in the different countries. The first spark that lit the fuse of revolution four years ago took place in Tunisia, spreading, then, to the other Arab countries. The Muslim Brotherhood were timid in confrontations with the military forces. This was determined by their fear of a military coup. There was a need in a strong opposition leader, who could force the situation, hence, people feel helpless. Meanwhile, the security bore a very low character. It is known that approximately 50% of Egyptians have a tendency to live below the poverty level line, while the index of the unemployment is at a high level. Islam seems to be the only force that holds society together. The investigators see problems with the religious division and women who usually played a less prominent role in society; however, they are not treated as second-class citizens, and, as a rule, are respected (Vidino 11). To protect women and take care of them is the absolute responsibility of men.
The defeat of Islamists in Egypt had international significance, altering the balance of forces in the Middle East. The positions of political Islam in the region of the “Arab Spring” and the forces supporting the Islamists have been seriously shaken. Egyptian military forces had to invite a representative of the Syrian armed opposition to liquidate its headquarters in Cairo, and leave Egypt. While these actions, the entry into Egypt was denied for them. Syrian rebels who fought against Syrian government forces had experienced the same situation. This resulted in the fact that Tunisia has already formed similar to the Egyptian movement “Tamarrud.” The change of power in Egypt has caused confusion in the Turkish government. Although Islamism, resorting to terror, will continue to act; however, its revenge – even with the support of the West – is, in any case, unlikely.
Another important aspect of the issue consists in the American position toward the problem. The investigators of the “Arab Spring” matter have a conviction that “the Obama administration was completely unprepared for the situation and incapable of nurturing or influencing it” (Pierce 69). This means that the conflict could have been faster resolved, in case, if all its participants had been prepared better, and their ideology went along with their actions.
Events of the last year clearly show the weaknesses in the economic and political systems of the Arab world, which is the essential result of the threats and challenges, fused with the most urgent issues in the region – human well-being and viability. If the given case is approached more widely, the growing disadvantage in this area can be supposed to contribute to the most difficult situation in the Middle East area (Talhamy). It is represented by a variety of industrial, financial and commercial interests, which have been concentrated on the powerful economic agents. They were later on grouped around the elites and collaborated mostly for the sake of mutual benefit, leaving people in the poor circumstances. The only aim was to ensure the work on economic growth, which, in reality, did not have to concern the prosperity of ordinary people.
It means that macroeconomic events in the oil-importing Arab countries were only artificially useful, and could not exist under any circumstances in order to satisfy the requirements of sustainable development. Large budget deficits provoked crisis in the balance of payments, financial instability, and, as a consequence, the fact of inflation. They slowed down economic growth, in particular, ruined the dynamics of the manufacturing industry. This fact prevented the underdevelopment of an active trade and industrial policies, as well as the establishment of export and protection of domestic producers from the influx of imports. In the future, the situation is expected to lead to corruption, bureaucracy, and mismanagement.
Economy of the less developed Arab countries have been inherited from the time of liberation revolutions. They have reproduced models that began with their interaction with the outside world. Nonetheless, in this process, the Arab world possessed the fixed economic institutions that assimilated the methods of Western capital work. In addition to this, they used to copy management techniques as well as the forms of economic activity organization. Equally, Western influence, associated with the emergence of large national enterprises, established the elements of corporate consciousness, the emergence of new elites embedded in progressive regional capitalism (Roberts 86).
The effectiveness was reinforced by the fact that the “Arab Spring” followed the global financial crisis. The two phenomena thickened the problems in the most unstable parts of the Arab world. This was believed not to allow Arab economy recovering at the beginning of the protest movement. As a result, it led to the essential mechanism of new events. In fact, they have become a turning point in the Arab reality that accumulated contradictions (Pierce 85). These factors caused the downfall not only in separate countries, but also negatively influenced the other parts of the region.
The process of Asian revolutions and military conflicts involved the countries of secular, republican, and middle level of development, which are currently in the state of transition from authoritarian regimes, and are partly dysfunctional socially. At the same time, they are different in terms of the economic models of the device, but roughly similar in quality of macroeconomic stabilization policies. Nonetheless, this policy has been formally successful; however, it failed to ensure the welfare of the people which, indeed, has been expected.
In addition to this, the Arab region was in various stages of readiness to ensure that they are able to meet their ‘spring of anger.’ The incidents happened show that the region was unable to safely pass through the critical changes that are associated with global processes – from the collapse of the socialist world before the advent of the global market, the internationalization of the powerful World Economic Space to the sharp deterioration of global monetary and financial issues. Especially, these hard phenomena interacted with conflicting processes within the region. The important role has been played by the “Muslim Brotherhood.” Certainly, their role would be much more important if they exercised the more firm position in both internal structure and aims and the external actions. The movement gave birth to a number of other organizations that, similarly, to it, did not possess the firm position, which seems to be necessary in the frame of the events that have taken place in the Arab world.