Divisions widen between Muslim Brotherhood factions after policy reassessment initiative

Mahmoud Aziz , Tuesday 21 Mar 2017

rotesters, opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, wave the Egyptian flag and shout slogans against him and members of the Muslim Brotherhood as they stand at the Brotherhood's national headquarters in Cairo's Moqattam district July 1, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

The internal split that has divided the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood in recent years resurfaced on Sunday after one faction of the group published a report critical of the Brotherhood’s policies and strategies since 2011.

The report, titled Assessment Before Vision: a Look Back at the Past, was published on Ikhwanonline website, a mouthpiece for the Administrative Committee, a Cairo-based Brotherhood grouping.

The committee, also known as the Youth Front, was formed in February 2014 and consists of second-tier leaders responsible for running the organisation's affairs.

Since its establishment, the committee has been perceived as having control over the organisation's supporter base in Egypt.

The committee's leader, Mohamed Kamal, was killed by Egyptian security forces in Cairo in October, leaving the committee without a declared leader.

The second major faction, considered to be the Brotherhood’s old guard, is led by Mahmoud Ezzat and is mainly based abroad, especially in the UK, Turkey and Qatar, and is responsible for issues of financing and regional international affairs.

A prominent leader within the Brotherhood, Ezzat has been acting as the Supreme Guide of the organisation since the arrest of Mohamed Badie in 2013.

The report was conducted based on studies and workshops by political, social, legal and Islamic legislation experts, in addition to a range of Muslim Brotherhood leaders inside and outside the country, according to the website.

In response to this step, a statement by Talaat Fahmi, a spokesperson for the Mahmoud Ezzat-led faction, denied what it described as the "illegitimate call for revisions or assessments" and dismissed any relationship between the Brotherhood and the report.

The assessment report highlighted four main points: the absence of the organisation's priorities, the relationship between the organisation and the state, the partisan action of the Brotherhood, and the relationship between the organisation and the 25 January revolution.

In the report, the group said the Brotherhood had failed to manage the political and media scene, wasting the efforts of the group’s "revolutionary icons" by favouring organisational leaders according to hierarchy, in addition to allowing the state to set the political agenda of the country's transitional period.

The report blamed the old guard for failing to prioritise, and for the absence of a comprehensive political plan.

Analysing the relationship between the Brotherhood and the state during this period, the report criticised the way the organisation dealt with state institutions, arguing possible opportunities to apply public pressure on the state were wasted.

It also criticised the sharing of authority between the organisation and its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party; the failure to prepare party leaders suitable for the period; and the lack of vision for taking over state administration.

Sameh Eid, a former member of the Brotherhood, told Ahram Online that the recent crisis represents nothing more than a power struggle between two rival groups within the organisation.

"The so-called assessments or revisions report did not include any condemnation or will to retreat from violence committed by the organisation in recent years," he said.

State authorities have repeatedly accused the Brotherhood of links with the militant violence that has escalated since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

In December of the same year the Brotherhood was added to a list of proscribed terrorist groups. Morsi, Badie, and much of the senior leadership have been jailed, charged with a variety of offences.

"This report aims at nothing but sending messages to the inside and outside about who is in control of the organisation,” said Eid.

However; the divisions in the Brotherhood run far deeper than the revisions crisis or any other past dispute, he added.

"The major disagreement between the two groups is the desire of the old guard to engage in political dialogue and reconciliation with the current regime, while the Cairo-based group is totally against the idea of reconciliation and is more lenient toward the use of violence."

The latest crisis between the two groups erupted in December, after the Administrative Committee announced on one of the group's Facebook pages that it had created a new "Shoura Advisory Council", deciding by a majority vote on a separation of powers between the organisation's legislative and executive branches.

The move left the organisation with two advisory councils for the first time since the Brotherhood was founded in 1928.

Since then, the two groups have engaged in several disputes by way of media statements, with each claiming to be the legitimate representative of the organisation.

The committee also said that Mohamed Badie, who has been in prison since the ouster of the Islamist government in July 2013, retains his position as supreme guide, with full powers, denying Ezzat's leadership. 


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