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It’s easy to see why the Brotherhood is talking about a Caliphate. The Islamists won the elections in Tunisia and Egypt and are expected to win Libya’s next month. The Brotherhood affiliate, Islah, is the most powerful party in Yemen. The Sudanese regime says it is instituting Sharia law but still may fall to an Islamist revolution. The Syrian dictatorship might be overthrown by Brotherhood-supported rebels. Turkey is now under Islamist leadership. Qatar is subsidizing the Brotherhood’s rise and Saudi Arabia remains a theocracy influenced by the Wahhabists.
The Brotherhood’s first order of business is to implement Sharia law in Egypt. The Brotherhood operates under a doctrine that it calls “gradualism.” In December, Supreme Guide Badi said that there are six phases to the Brotherhood methodology: Sharia law on the individual level; Sharia law on the family unit; Sharia law on the society; Sharia law on the government; the resurrection of the Caliphate and lastly, “mastership of the world.”
The Brotherhood will declare that it is democratic throughout this process, but, as top Brotherhood cleric Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi explains, “Our democracy is different.” The Brotherhood is for a “genuine type of democracy, for a society driven by the laws of Sharia that is compatible with the values of freedom, human rights, justice and equity.” The use of these terms comforts the West and non-Islamists, but mean something different to Islamists.
One question moving forward will be how the Brotherhood’s Caliphate agenda clashes with Iran’s Shiite Crescent agenda. The sides are already in conflict in Syria. The relationship between the Arab Islamists led by the Brotherhood and the Turkish Islamists further needs to be understood. The Turkish and Arab Islamists are on the same side in Syria but the Muslim Brotherhood condemned Prime Minister Erdogan when he told Egypt to adopt a secular constitution when he visited the country. “[W]e do not think that he or his country alone should be leading the region or drawing up its future,” a Brotherhood deputy leader retorted.
The Brotherhood shouldn’t plan too far ahead, though. The truth is that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces still holds the most power in Egypt. The Islamists will need more than the presidency to make their dream come true. The next step in Egypt’s future is the writing of a constitution. The fate of Egypt, and perhaps the region, hangs in the balance.
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