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The question of course is what happens now. In all likelihood what little resistance existed to a Muslim Brotherhood state in Egypt is now broken. With SCAF member Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, formerly head of military intelligence taking over as defense minister, and several other key commanders (including the head of the Egyptian 3rd Army based at Suez) taking plum positions in the new hierarchy, it will become increasingly easy to find collaborators within the army structure willing to side with the Muslim Brotherhood. That means moving forward the M.B. will be able to replace those who participated in or benefited from this bloodless coup, if they should later on resist orders.
For students of revolutionary movements in general, and analysts in the Brotherhood in particular, there ought to have been no surprise here. The only actor in the Egyptian theater which possessed a conspiratorial organization, swiftly and purposefully acting on orders from its leadership was the Muslim Brotherhood. In heady times of revolution and counter-revolution, such parties are always likely to rise to the top of the pile.
Whether the Brotherhood sparked the events in the Sinai to provide justification to carry out their coup, as the Nazis lit the Reichstag fire to justify their actions, or whether they simply responded to unfolding events with precise and aggressive action is ultimately irrelevant – the outcome, regardless of the excuse, was preordained. The Egyptian army, the “most secular and pro-western institution in Egypt,” which is the refrain we have heard repeated ad nauseam, has failed to serve as the bulwark to Brotherhood power that we were promised.
Indeed, if there is one silver lining to the weekend’s events in Egypt, it is that policymakers can perhaps finally outgrow their belief in the fictional security blanket of a secular, pro-Western Egyptian military preventing the creation of an Islamist Egypt, and finally move on with the dealing with the world as it really is, one in which Islamism is in a dangerous ascendance across the region.
Kyle Shideler is the Director of Research at the Endowment for Middle East Truth (emetonline.org).
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