Army has ousted two president in two years and done so in a manner that has made it fairly popular, at least for a while. The generals are likely to try to restore the old oligarchy with a populist façade and a lot of Saudi money. This popular base is unlikely to last long; not even Riyadh’s money can bring prosperity and employment to the huge number of young people in Egypt – some 50% under twenty-one years of age. Further, its popular base consists of two antithetical groups which are temporarily united in opposing the Muslim Brotherhood: democratic liberals and authoritarian Salafis. The former group may already be rethinking their part in ousting Morsi; it has served to bring the return of the oligarchy and it may lead to protracted violence.
The army should be looking carefully inside its rank and file. The Brotherhood almost certainly has members there and many soldiers who are indisposed to the Brotherhood’s politics are nonetheless appalled by what happened in Cairo. The army might not be as unified as it thinks. It might not even be as unified as the Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood reacted to Morsi’s ouster with generally peaceful demonstrations, showing discipline and organization. They showed restraint and even courage and for that they’ve been shot down by the hundreds. What will the Brotherhood do now? It has millions of young supporters who have seen their elected leader removed in a military coup and their friends massacred. The Brotherhood has responded with continued restraint but many younger members will soon find this ridiculous. They will argue that democratic politics doesn’t work. It’s a fraud. When you win, you’re thrown out and killed. Forget the ballot box, many will say. We need weapons. Thanks to national conscription, many already have basic military training. Violent opposition can take several forms.
The Brotherhood has the national organization to effect a widespread and protracted guerrilla war. It is strong in most cities and stronger in most rural areas.
The Brotherhood may see offshoot groups form and resort to violence. One such group killed Sadat in 1981.
Young Brotherhood members may join the militant groups operating in Sinai, Syria, or Libya. They can learn how to shoot, make bombs, and fight in small units. Then they can return to Egypt one day.
© 2013 Brian M Downing