Whatever the repercussions of today’s events in Egypt, history will write that the current president, Dr Mohamed Mursi, was unable to save either himself, the Muslim Brotherhood or Egypt. It will do so in the same way that history books tell of how the former president, Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, was unable to save himself and his party.
The latest (and lengthy) presidential speech was a political disaster. It untied his opponents and, when the president attacked everyone but the military, dissuaded those who were neutral. In anticipation of today’s events, this is to be expected, especially where the army is concerned. It has placed a remarkable emphasis on alignment with the people, which it did not do on January 25, 2011.
His speech not only united political opponents, but also united institutions against him and his group. The president did not provide solutions or concessions, since he was unable to improve Egypt’s political prospects.
Whatever takes place today, it is clear that the president has missed an opportunity to save Egypt, himself, and the Muslim Brotherhood. After having spent a year in power, there have not been any real efforts to include opponents or even to maintain alliances with the Salafists, for example. Also, the Brotherhood has not worked to reassure the average Egyptian, even after having received their votes.
The Brotherhood has made one mistake after another. They infiltrated and swamped the judicial institutions of Al-Azhar, the economy and the media. This is in addition to the story surrounding the writing of the constitution. All this was done without a serious attempt to improve the situation. The Brotherhood was sinister in its seizure of powers, and extending their influence over all aspects of the state. This was a fatal mistake, since Egyptians felt that what the Brotherhood was doing implied that they will never leave government—no matter what happens.
Accordingly, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the president before them, missed every opportunity to reassure everyone and to achieve genuine accomplishments. They risked social peace, and failed to stop the bloodshed. And today, the Muslim Brotherhood faces streets packed with divided protesters, an army on alert, and an economy on the brink of collapse. Despite that, it continues to mobilize its disciples, rather than seeking to defuse the situation, while the president continues to waste opportunities to rescue that which is still possible—be it himself, his party or Egypt. The best that the president could now do is call for early elections before it is too late, which could be a week. After all, a week is a long time in politics.
It is therefore clear that history will write that the Egyptian president did not save himself, his party or his country—all of which would pay a heavy price if the president were to be toppled. For the Muslim Brotherhood, this would not be exclusive to Egypt. Just as the group has ascended collectively throughout the region, the fall would be likewise collective.