After struggling with years of “fragmentation, division and conflicts,” the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt announced that it was not seeking power in the north African country.
Acting leader of the banned group, Ibrahim Munir declared: “We will not wage a new struggle for power in Egypt.”
He made the announcement as the London and Istanbul branches of the group vie for power.
The London branch had set up its own Shura council to replace the one in Istanbul, leading to a dispute.
Munir told Reuters on Friday: “We completely reject (violence) and we consider it outside the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood - not only the use of violence and arms, but to have a struggle for power in Egypt in any form.”
“We reject the struggle for power even between political parties through elections organized by the state. This is totally rejected by us,” he added, while acknowledging internal divisions within the Brotherhood.
“Definitely this time is tougher than previous times and previous ordeals,” he said.
Munir took the mantle of acting leader two years ago because the Brotherhood's general guide, or leader, has been in jail since the group lost power in 2013 and his initial successor was then detained in 2020.
Munir acknowledged that the Brotherhood had experienced internal division over how to respond to the crisis, and that a new leader would be chosen "when the situation stabilises".
Experts in Egypt interpreted Munir’s remarks as attempts to overcome the division, but they believe he is too late and won’t help the Brotherhood.
Extremist groups expert Ahmed Ban told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Brotherhood always makes its moves when it is already too late.
He explained that in 2011, calls were made for the Brotherhood to turn into a movement that could throw its support behind a political party and therefore, move towards political reform in Egypt at the time.
But the Brotherhood’s leaderships had set their sights on power at the time, and they waged political battles, which ended up costing the movement greatly, he added.
Another expert, Amr Abdul Moneim said the Brotherhood’s remarks do not reflect a change in ideology and approach.
They are just trying to improve their image, only confirming the extent of their internal divisions, he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The Brotherhood is struggling with five different groups within it. They are the London and Istanbul branches, youth groups, sophisticated cells and defectors.
Just because the movement has declared that it wants to step away from power, doesn’t necessarily mean that it actually will, Abdul Moneim remarked.
The majority of Brotherhood leaders lie in jail in Egypt on charges of violence and murder. They were charged after the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi, of the Brotherhood, in July 2013, amid popular protests. The group was shortly banned in Egypt and death and life sentences against its top leaders soon followed.
The Brotherhood has been excluded from the national dialogue called for by President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi earlier this year because of its violent past.
Munir said the political dialogue cannot be successful with the exclusion of the Brotherhood or any other party.