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Excluding the Muslim Brotherhood will not lead to reconciliation

The trial for the deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was postponed until next February 1st due to weather conditions that prevented him from being transferred from his prison in Alexandria to the court headquarters in the Police Academy in Cairo.

Egyptian Interior Minister Major-General Mohamed Ibrahim said that the helicopter pilot that was supposed to transfer the president refused to take off from the prison yard due to thick fog, but the real fog that prevented his take off was "political fog".

The interim government in Egypt is experiencing a state of confusion that has been directly reflected on many of its decisions, not only with regards to this trial, but also regarding many other matters. The place of the trial was changed and information was given to the media and then officially denied.

The use of "fog" as an excuse may be caused by the Egyptian authorities' fear of president Morsi's reappearance in the defendants' cage, which will steal the spotlight from them. This appearance may also be used by the media to negatively impact the constitutional referendum scheduled for next Tuesday.

The same fog story was used by the late president Mohamed Anwar Sadat in 1972 to justify the failure to declare war against Israel and the attempt to quiet down the student demonstrations that demanded vengeance for the lives of the Egyptian and Arab martyrs who died in the June war. This justification was used in many jokes, but this excuse was proven to be a military trick used to mislead the enemy. A year later, the Egyptian forces surprised their Israeli counterparts with a raid on the Suez Canal and a defeat that may have changed history on a military level if it wasn't used in the wrong way to reach peace treaties that served Israel's purpose more than the Arabs. This divided the Arabs and was the beginning of the Arab deterioration.

The overwhelming majority of Egyptians, in light of the boycott by the Muslim Brotherhood, will vote in favour of the constitution and will directly support the transitional government and roadmap prepared by Colonel Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi; but will this achieve the stability the Egyptian people are looking for?

We do not believe that Egypt is taking confident steps towards such stability, and may, in fact, be doing the opposite, because the military institution's bet on exercising an iron grip to drive the Muslim Brotherhood to completely surrender is not guaranteed to succeed.

When the Egyptian authorities eliminate any hope of the political participation of an 80 year old movement, labels it as a terrorist organisation, and arrests its first and second level leaders, then the only choice left for its supporters is to continue protesting and resorting to violence.

Colonel Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi, the actual leader of Egypt, says that the political process, including the presidential and parliamentary elections, will be open to everyone, but the elimination of the Muslim Brotherhood suggests otherwise.

There are many reports that indicate that the Muslim Brotherhood adapted to violence and the policy of elimination, just as it adapted to life underground, rebuilt its organisational structures, and adjusted them according to the new reality. Moreover, its leadership has become "non-central" and the movement has started to compromise its charity and preaching work in order to focus on one goal; confronting the ruling government.

We are now facing a political confrontation that may develop into a military confrontation due to the power of radical elements which demand resorting to arms at the expense of the "aged" historic leadership who sit behind bars and always emphasise the peacefulness of protests.

The arrest of first and second level Brotherhood leaders has led to the rise of the third level leaders who mostly belong to a more hard-line and impulsive school. This suggests that the conflict is likely to continue for years to come, which is evident from the nature of the discussions at "family", i.e. Brotherhood members, meetings which shifted from being public to being secret and now consist of smaller numbers but with more organisational precision.

The experience of the Brotherhood in power in Egypt reminds us of the Taliban's experience in Afghanistan. After 12 years of American occupation, and the resulting Karzai rule, and the use of an iron fist, the United States decided to withdraw in defeat, and Hamid Karzai decided not to run in the next presidential election, and all the observers expect the return of the Taliban to power in Kabul.

Egypt is not Afghanistan and the Muslim Brotherhood is not the Taliban. However, I would like to say that the policy of exclusion is not always successful even if practiced by the greatest power in the world (America). I also acknowledge that there is support for the "transitional" government, and I admit that Colonel Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi has the popularity that would qualify him to win the presidential election in light of the popular boycott and the lack of strong personalities to compete with him. However, will he succeed in achieving stability in light of the policies of exclusion and the iron fist exercised against a movement that has deep roots in the Egyptian popular consciousness? Some of his supporters, especially those in the media, think he can, but we have our doubts as well.

President Morsi's trials will always remain a matter of popular and media interest, as well as a source of headache for the ruling government because they are irrational and unconvincing trails. How can he be tried for conspiring with a foreign state, i.e. Hamas, who President Mubarak and all the Egyptian security agencies "conspired" with as well? How can he be charged with killing 16 people in front of the Ittihadiya Palace while eight of the victims were supporters of his?

Why is Morsi being tried while those who raided Rabaa Al-Adaweya Square and those who opened fire on the protestors in front of the Republican Guard headquarters aren't, even though hundreds were killed during those incidents?

Egypt needs a comprehensive national reconciliation and needs to restore coexistence and cooperation based on a new forgiving vision, far away from any vengeful acts. It is sad that criminalising the Muslim Brotherhood and labelling it as a terrorist group does not lead to this.

This is a translation of the Arabic text published by Raialyoum on 8 January, 2014

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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