Mubarak’s Political Advisor , Al Baz: We are not Worried About The Muslim Brotherhood’s Rise

Mubarak’s Political Advisor , Al Baz: We are not Worried About The Muslim Brotherhood’s Rise ; Nevertheless We Will not Permit them to Have a Political Party

Ahmad Hassan Bakr and Salah Bedewi. 29/11/2005

In the first comment by the Egyptian presidency on the big successes of the Muslim Brotherhood in the General Elections ,  Dr Osama Al Baz , the Political Advisor of the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, said that  the regime was not worried about the success of the Muslim Brotherhood.. Nevertheless, he dismissed the notion of lifting the legal ban imposed on the Group since 1954 by allowing it to form a political party. Meanwhile, well informed sources excluded the possibility that President Mubarak may dissolve the next  Parliament. The sources noted that the President asked his  advisers to prepare a strategy to deal with the Group in the next phase.

Al Baz’s statements were announced in a lecture that he gave at the Swedish Foreign Policy Institute , Stockholm. Al Baz, said that he viewed the results achieved by the Group as coming in the context  of strengthen the Egyptian opposition. He stated : ” what could be wrong in strengthening the opposition, provided that they respect the law.”

Al Baz also explained the strong results achieved by the Brotherhood in the elections so far by ” the special status that religion represents for Egyptians since the Pharaohs’ times.” He added ” we will not however permit them to form a political party with a religious orientation. The Muslim Brotherhood can not have their own party, it is unconstitutional.” Al Baz saw the fact of the presence of 9 million Egyptian Christians as a good reason to disallow a religious political party. However, he acknowledged that the Brotherhood have emphasized that they do  not want to exclude the Christians.

Meanwhile, informed sources dismissed the option that Mubarak may decide to dissolve the next parliament due to the wide victory of the Brotherhood as was spread over the last few days. The same sources asserted that after the results of the first and second rounds, Mubarak asked his advisors to prepare a strategy to deal with the Group’s Parliamentary bloc,  especially that his advisors told him that the Muslim Brotherhood’s deputies in the People’s Assembly  will form an obstacle to the implementation of the program he announced during his presidential campaign for elections.

The sources also said that the president’s  advisors, especially those in the field of security have warned the president that banning the People’s Assembly within two years will cause a state of security and political unrest in the country. Moreover, a number of the old influential members in the government –the Old Guard- have lately expressed fears that banning the Assembly may cause a full majority of the Brotherhood to get seats  in the new Parliament, which according to the Old Guard , means full control of power by the Muslim Brotherhood.

On their part, the Presidential advisors for political and state foreign  affairs warned that the mere suggestion of banning the next Parliament may cause the fear and anger of the foreign forces whether American or European. They also added that it is not improbable that these forces may use this step as a reason to exert pressures on the regime in order to force it for more concessions at all levels. The sources said that the presidential advisors presented a full containment strategy based on making deals with the Group for the next two years. Yet , they said it was unlikely that the regime allow the Brotherhood to form a political at least for the next two years,  as Mubarak prefers to wait and take a decision after his assessment of the Brotherhood’s Parliamentary performance and how far they would abide by the agreed upon rules of the political game.

In the same time, the sources pointed out that the regime will always wave by the 180 appeals against the results, in the face of the Muslim Brotherhood as a  legitimate mean to dissolve the  Parliament if the Group’s deputies did not abide by the rules of    the political game . Despite the large victory of the Brotherhood , they will not be a threat to the National Democratic Party, NDP,  because they will not have more than one third of the seats. Yet, the power they have now will force the NDP deputies to raise their political performance.

It is most likely that the Brotherhood will maintain its high profile and performance in the first two rounds of elections as it enters the third round that starts on the 1st of December, 2005 in 9 governorates : Sharqiyyah, Daqahliyyah, Dumiatt, Kafr Al Sheikh, Suhag, North Sinai, South Sinai, the Red Sea, and Aswan. Al Sharqiyyah, Daqahliyyah, and Kafr Al Sheikh in particular are traditional strongholds of the Brotherhood.