The recent Muslim Brotherhood statement demanding that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) refrain from interfering in how the constitution is drawn up by producing a list of supra-constitutional principles could mean the end of the honeymoon period between the military and the country's largest Islamist group, according to some political analysts.
The creation of a list of supra-constitutional principles has long been a key demand of certain political groups seeking guarantees that Egypt will emerge from the transition period as a civil state. The fact that the SCAF appears to be increasingly in favor of the idea could, say some analysts, mark the start of a period of conflict, or at least a chilling of relations, between the military council and the Brotherhood.
Emad Gad, expert at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said criticizing the ruling military council is something of a strange position for the Muslim Brotherhood to take. Whereas criticizing a person or political movement opposed to one's position is normal in Egypt, criticizing the entity that rules the country is a new phenomenon and points to the end of a honeymoon period between Islamic movements and the ruling military council.
He called on the Brotherhood to be reasonable as to how it responds to the military council, because clashes between the Brotherhood and the military council would bode poorly for the country’s future.
Wahid Abdel Maguid, political expert and manager at the Al-Ahram Center for Publishing and Translation, said that the Brotherhood statement does not necessitate rising tensions with the armed forces because the opinion expressed in the Brotherhood statement is shared by a wide segment Egyptian society.
“It’s better for political forces to stop trying to create guiding principles for the constitution and not issue a constitutional declaration," he said. "That position was agreed upon by the Democratic Alliance, which includes a number of parties, in its last statement.”
Nabil Abdel Fattah, head of the Al-Ahram Center for Social and Historical Studies, said that the Brotherhood statement is an attempt to display its power as the leader of Islamic groups, especially after massive numbers of Salafis descended on Tahrir Square on 29 July in support of conservative Islam.
Abdel Fattah said: “The Brotherhood wants control parliament [in alliance with] other Islamic groups in order to draw up the constitution in accordance with its specific ideology. That necessitates redrawing the modern Egyptian state. But more dangerous, it promotes sectarian conflict because it affects the situation of Copts.”
Abdel Fattah considers the Brotherhood statement an attempt to promote instability and sever its alignment with the military council, which has the power to re-draw the roadmap for the transition period.
Amro Hesham Rabia, an expert of political organizations at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said that the military council’s decision to issue a constitutional declaration within two days will mean that it has rejected the Brotherhood’s decision. He said that the council’s delay of five days in responding to the statement means that it will return once more to avoiding the matter.
He added that in the event that a constitutional declaration is issued, the Islamist political forces may resort to civil disobedience, which would be hard to achieve. They may also resort to organizing million-strong marches in Tahrir Square.
“The Brotherhood won’t clash with the military council,” concluded Rabia, “[but] they have the right to be worried about a constitutional declaration.”
Translated from the Arabic Edition