Muslim Brotherhood Begins Exerting Influence in Post-Mubarak Egypt

Energized by a early parliamentary election victory where they and other hard-line Islamist parties will make up two-thirds of Egyptian national parliament, the Muslim Brotherhood has been quick to exert its influence and newfound legitimacy.

First they sent a signal to the Egyptian military (an established institutional power in Egypt) that they will decide the direction and future of the Arab world’s most populist country.

The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party said it was withdrawing from an advisory council being formed by the military leaders, saying that the military was trying to give the new council a major role in writing the constitution. On Wednesday, a member of the military council told a small group of Western journalists that to limit the power of a potential Islamist majority in the new Parliament, the military planned to give the new advisory council and the military-led cabinet major roles in forming a constitutional assembly. Gen. Mukhtar al-Mulla of the military council contended during the briefing that the newly elected Parliament would not represent the will of the broader Egyptian public. The military council’s new plan and the Brotherhood’s response mark the beginning of a new round in an escalating conflict between the two sides — the military, Egypt’s most powerful institution, and the Brotherhood, its strongest political force — over the drafting of the Constitution and the military’s future role (New York Times: In Protest, Islamists Quit Egypt Council)

And, true to their ideology and historical “grievances,” the Brotherhood sent a jolt to the region by saying the current Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty should be reassessed. This major move, if carried out, would all but end the Mubarak era of peace with the western-backed Jewish nation.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said that the country’s peace treaty with Israel needs re-evaluation by the country’s new parliament, in press remarks by a senior member of the group published Friday. “A long time has passed since the Camp David accord was signed, and like the other agreements it needs to be reviewed, and this is in the hands of the parliament,” said Mahmoud Hussein, the group’s secretary-general. “The brotherhood believes the treaty is of great importance, but it is not on the top of our list. There are other priorities for the time being,” Hussein told the regional Asharq al-Awsat daily. “Generally, Israel does not honor the agreement,” he added. He denied a report saying that the Muslim Brotherhood had reached an understanding with the United States and Israel on “the importance of safeguarding the peace treaty with Israel.” (Haaretz: Muslim Brotherhood: Egypt-Israel peace treaty needs to be reviewed)

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