Internal conflict in Muslim Brotherhood wings

Former leaders from the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s main opposition group, unanimously agreed that the current group crisis is due to historical conflicts between the organization’s wings especially the clash between conservative leader Mahmoud Ezzat and reformist leader Essam el-Erian. Brotherhood leader Mohamed Mahdi Akef has become the weakest party in the conflict, and this will eventually lead to the departure of leading member Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh from the Guidance Council as well as to the expulsion of el-Erian from the Shura Council. Akef, the leaders pointed out, has lost control of the Brotherhood due to his weak position within the split.

The Muslim Brotherhood has experience in coping with crises and absorbing them, said Kamal Habibi, an expert in Islamic movements, who cited the Brotherhood’s response in the aftermath of the killing of the group’s founder Hassan el-Banna and the period of strife under President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

The current crisis is a result of the confrontation between the group and the leaders and has created tension regarding the best way to deal with the current situation. It is a crisis between the old guard and the new generation, with the old guard, led by Mahmoud Ezzat, Rashad el-Bayoumi and others, holding the reins, while the new generation is adopting a different vision of reform, civil relations and politics, said Habibi.

The position of General Guide Akef has weakened, said Habibi, although he ruled out his resignation for the time being. Akef will be forced to acquiesce to the requests of the Guidance Bureau members, so as to not promote el-Erian into its membership. However, such a promotion would not have a significant effect on the group.

Meanwhile, Brotherhood advisory council member Abdel Sattar el-Meligi said the current conflict in the Guidance bureau is historic and not new. The conflicts are between those who overtly represent the group, and those who are active at the missionary level and in the secret organization.

What is going on is an extension of this conflict, said el-Meligi. Those representing the secret organization, led by General Guide Mahdi Akef, the group’s Secretary General Mahmoud Ezzat, and member of the Guidance Bureau, Rashad el-Bayoumi have a clear majority of supporters and could impose whatever decision they want, he added. These advocates of the secret organization are believed to be the reason for the reoccurring hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood by other opposition parties, as members of the organization believe they are completely Islamic and that other groups are un-Islamic. General Guide Akef, by virtue of his historic wisdom, wanted to improve the image of the organization by nominating Essam el-Erian, a reformist, to join the Guidance Bureau, el-Meligi said, adding that Akef has personally sponsored the secret organization and increased its members from 12 to 20 people.

What is happening now is overwhelming chaos, with everyone acting in whatever way he wants, the former leading figure el-Meligi said. Expect new organizations to emerge within the group against the background of these conflicts. General Guide Akef, he added, will not be able to promote el-Erian to the Guidance Bureau. How the crisis will unfold will be seen in the coming days.

Former Brotherhood leader Khaled el-Zaafarani said the running conflicts within the group stem from the formation of wings led by different leaders including Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, Essam el-Erian and Mahmoud Ezzat. General Guide Akef will not resign and will not succeed in promoting el-Erian in the face of opposition by some leaders, he said. These conflicts will eventually lead to the departure of Abdel Moneim and Abul Fotouh from the Guidance Bureau and Essam el-Erian from the Shura Council, he added.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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