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Muslim Brotherhood's row with military just spat for now

March 26, 2012 |  9:55 am

Egypt-parliament
REPORTING FROM CAIRO -- Egypt's media are interpreting recent statements by the Muslim Brotherhood and the ruling military council as a significant clash between Egypt's two political powers, but analysts suggest there's no serious trouble on the horizon.

"It is highly unlikely that a real crisis will occur between the Brotherhood and [the army]. Both represent the two main forces in Egypt at the moment and each of them is fully aware of that," said Bashir Abdel Fattah, analyst and editor of Democracy magazine. "The Brotherhood is prudent enough to realize that the military has ... enough nationwide support to win any conflict of this kind, which can subsequently lead to the group losing its biggest achievement ever, the parliament."

The Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party have often tempered or denounced criticism against the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, or SCAF, since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak's regime last year. The group's support for the council raised claims among activists that the army and the Brotherhood had struck a political deal: The Brotherhood would oppose anti-army protesters in return for the military paving the way for the Islamists to control parliament and have the leading hand in writing Egypt's new constitution.

Recent statements by the Brotherhood, however, accused the council of threatening democracy by continuing to support a military-chosen cabinet that is "responsible for all the country's current problems." That was followed by contentions from the Brotherhood that the military had threatened to dissolve parliament if lawmakers held a no-confidence vote against the cabinet.

The military council responded Sunday by saying that it was showing its "discontent" toward the Brotherhood's allegations. 

Nonetheless, Abdel Fattah said the current confrontation is "made up" by the Brotherhood, which is "aware of the fact that the current cabinet does not enjoy any powers under SCAF, and that even if the Brotherhood is allowed to form a government of its own, it wouldn't be given much authority by the army."

The Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party are already facing strong criticism from secular political parties and activists over what they characterized as the Brotherhood using its "monopoly" in parliament to pack the panel that will draft the constitution with supporters.

Diaa Rashwan, head of Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said the Brotherhood knows that provoking the army could backfire: "The Brotherhood's high tone of attack in their statement is a bit worrying, but the group realizes that clashing with the army won't be in their favor."

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--Amro Hassan

Photo: Members of Egypt's parliament attend a conference Saturday to vote for a panel that will draft the first constitution since the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak last year. The liberals accused the majority Islamists of trying to monopolize the 100-member panel. Credit: Agence France-Presse / Getty Images.

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