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Fractures in Egypt’s Ruling Coalition, and Divisions Between Islamist Parties Healed

2:40 PM, Jul 11, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
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The Brotherhood called for an uprising in the aftermath of a protest Monday at the military barracks where Morsi is allegedly being held. The confrontation left at least forty pro-Morsi activists dead with hundreds more wounded. The army contends that they were protecting themselves when an armed terrorist group charged soldiers, and the Brotherhood claims that the army opened fire on unarmed protestors, but in the end, the chronology, or who started what is immaterial. In toppling Egypt’s first freely elected president on behalf of one segment of Egyptian society, the army took sides against the other part that did not want to see Morsi pushed out of the presidential palace. Perhaps more dangerously for Egypt, the army’s action to oust Morsi has united what his presidency divided—the Islamists.

The Muslim Brotherhood clearly shares the same worldview as Hamas and the Sinai-based jihadists. And yet for reasons of national interest and self-interest, the Morsi government was compelled to take positions against both. Under Morsi, the army not only closed smuggling tunnels that channeled weapons to both Hamas and the Sinai groups, with strategic Iranian missiles going to the former; it also sided with the White House and Israel during the IDF’s fall campaign, Operation Pillar of Defense, against Hamas. All that is changed now, and minor tactical differences are forgotten for the sake of unity in a larger project—to resist the American/Zionist project to oppress authentic Muslims, a project implemented by its paid henchmen, the Egyptian army.

The immediate question is what does the plan of battle look like? The Brotherhood has little hope of defeating the army in a direct confrontation on the streets of Cairo and other cities, but together with its allies it can bleed the army in the Sinai for a long time to come. Most troubling is the concern that the Brotherhood and it allies might try to embroil the army in skirmishes with Israel along the Sinai border that might turn more deadly. The hope then is that this nascent Islamist coalition falls apart while Egypt’s ruling coalition unifies around a political and economic program to get the country back on its feet. Or at least that the Islamist alliance breaks down before the ruling alliance starts to show its cracks. 

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