Egypt’s Islamists cry “uncle”
posted at 11:21 am on August 27, 2013 by Bruce McQuain
Say what you will about the military crackdown and call it what you wish, but it is apparently been more than enough for Egypt’s Islamist extremists. They’re offering a truce to Egypt’s military:
Two of Egypt’s former militant groups are offering an initiative to halt the country’s political violence, in which supporters of the ousted Islamist president will stop street protests if the military-backed government stops its crackdown on them, the groups’ leaders said Monday.
The initiative led by Egypt’s Gamaa Islamiya and Islamic Jihad movements, which waged an insurgency in the 1990s, aims to bring dialogue between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood, from which toppled President Mohammed Morsi hails. Morsi was overthrown by the military on July 3 after millions took to the street demanding that he step down.
Morsi’s allies had previously insisted that he be restored to power as starting point for any talks, butIslamic Jihad leader Mohammed Abu Samra told The Associated Press that negotiations had no “red lines.”
The groups do not speak for the Brotherhood, but the initiative is a new sign of flexibility from the pro-Morsi alliance of mostly Islamist groups. It comes as the Islamists’ protest campaign wanes and numbers at their formerly massive rallies dwindle. Hundreds of Brotherhood leaders and organizers have been arrested in the crackdown.
Said another way, the Islamist coalition is beginning to show some cracks in its facade. Of course it may also be a means of pausing and regrouping. However, as pointed out yesterday, the Islamists have seen their side’s popularity slide badly as the violence has continued. While this isn’t necessarily a sign that it’s allies are throwing the Muslim Brotherhood under the bus, it has to be interpreted that their solidarity is wavering.
“We are paving the way for talks,” Abu Samra said over the phone. “We can’t hold talks while we are at the points of swords in the midst of killings and crackdowns.” He said the groups were “extending their hands” to avoid a bloodier confrontation with the military.
He said that the Islamists will stop demonstrations so long as the military halts its crackdown and stops defaming the Brotherhood in mosques and in the media. Asked if Islamist groups would accept talks without demanding Morsi’s reinstatement, he said, “Blood is more valuable than the seat of power.”
The last statement is a pretty significant indication of the coalition’s internal disagreement.
The Brotherhood too has apparently reached out to the military. But it appears the military may take a hard line with them:
Top Muslim Brotherhood negotiator Amr Darrag said that the group is open for talks but after “confidence-building measures.” However, he added, “the other side didn’t show a single gesture or any sign that it is ready for dialogue. It only talks about it but no action.”
Time will tell how this works out for Egypt, but at the moment it appears the military has the support of a majority of the public, has an opposition that is fracturing and may have the Muslim Brotherhood on the ropes. Do they let them recover or do they attempt to finish them off?