Policy reassessment: Battle between MB youth, elder guards



Wed, 03 May 2017 - 06:00 GMT


Wed, 03 May 2017 - 06:00 GMT

Clashes Between Pro-Muslim Brotherhood Protesters And Opponents - (Archive)

Clashes Between Pro-Muslim Brotherhood Protesters And Opponents - (Archive)

CAIRO – 3 May 2017: In the framework of an internal initiative for ideological revision launched by the Muslim Brotherhood’s younger generation, the Youth Front led by Mohamed Kamal announced Saturday the second part of its assessment for the Brotherhood’s behavior and institutional structure between 2011 and 2017.

The assessment has ignited great turmoil and divisions among the Brotherhood’s branches and generational fractions, as it referred to “an absence of homogeneity within the organization, shortcomings of the internal regulations of the group and weak institutional structure.”

It further criticized the organization’s poor political performance following ousting of former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

While the Brotherhood’s senior leaders in Turkey supported the revisions and called for their promotion, MB Acting Chairman Mahmoud Ezzat has allegedly rejected the revision campaign.

He also proceeded in freezing the memberships of the youth who participated in the assessment, media outlets reported quoting anonymous sources in the Brotherhood. Some of the organization’s administrative offices have also denounced the assessment, such as their leadership in Sharqia governorate in Egypt.

The media coordinator for the Youth Front Assessment program, Abbas el-Kabari, admitted that the revisions have caused internal strife within the organization.
“These assessment aim at consolidating the principles of accountability and investigation, so that leaders do not monopolize the organization,” Kabari said in a statement to a website affiliated with the Brotherhood.

The first part of the youth’s assessment addresses a deficiency in the organization’s priorities and the absence of a political program, which hindered the creation of capable political figures, ignited hatred with a lot of entities and groups, and affected the organization’s performance after January 25 revolution, the assessment states.

Tackling the Brotherhood’s relationship with the state, the assessment criticizes the leadership for limiting the organization’s political scope to the boundaries set by the state without trying to overcome those boundaries, being satisfied with the classification of the Brotherhood as a security issue and not a political one.

In addition, it censured the absence of any political ambitions or space for the development of political thought, as well as missing the opportunities to expand.

The revisions also criticize the overlap between the role of the organization’s – now banned – Freedom and Justice Party and the functions of the Brotherhood.

“The party was functionally closer to a political section of the group, rather than an independent political party,” the assessment says. The youth wing also denounced the organization’s “disrupted media discourse during and after the January 25 revolution.”

The second part of the assessment focuses on the institutional structure of the Brotherhood and their status following June 2013.“The organization consists of two main teams; the first is characterized by political flexibility as an opponent of the regime … and the second is more radical in principle, but less willing to oppose the regime,” according to the assessment.

The revisions also criticize a deficiency in the representation of females and youth within the structure of the Brotherhood.The brotherhood leaders in Turkey have been quite welcoming and receptive of the revision campaign.

“The revisions and assessments announced by the youth front mark an important step in the history of the brotherhood and they must be put up with,” Mohammed al-Akid, a member of the (consultative) Shura Council of the Brotherhood in Turkey said in a statement. Akid further denounced the stance of some offices that rejected the revisions and “did not rush into adopting them.”

Ezz Eldin Dwidar, senior MB leader in Turkey, commended the assessments and called for the Brotherhood’s elder leaders to adopt the youth’s proposed measures.

Addressing the Brotherhood’s chairman and his supporting front that opposes the assessments, Dwidar stated “You can criticize the brotherhood and underestimate the value of the change arisen by the youth’s uprising; however, the Brotherhood and its Shura Council are showing dynamism, interaction and vision.”

On the other hand, Gamal al-Menshawy, an expert on Islamist movements, remarked that the youth wing issues new revisions quite often, “which implies a state of confusion and bewilderment.”

“The youth have no means to reach the leaders of the Brotherhood, who are not used to being revised or hearing an opposing opinion,” Menshawy stated, adding that the International Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood “will never allow these revisions or assessments to go through, and will launch a campaign to dishonor the youth and deny the assessments.”

“The Brotherhood’s elderly know that the success of these reviews will prove they are not fit for leadership and open the way for the youth to overthrow them,” Menshawy explained.

There are currently two factions battling for control within the organization: the first consists of the youth wing, led by Kamal, and it has adopted the name “Current of Conscience”, whereas the second is the “old guards current”, led by Ezzat. The split lines between the two parties are both generational and ideological.

According to a research by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Ezzat’s faction enjoys more strength, better funding and international ties; however, the Youth Front managed to control a large number of administrative offices in Egypt’s major cities and promote their rejection of the old guards’ resolutions.

Internal disagreements between the old guards and the younger generations have periodically re-emerged throughout the Brotherhood’s history, bringing in new blood.

The first significant rift occurred in 1996, when middle-generation leaders, mainly the 1970s members, revolted and left the group to form a new political party, called “al-Wasat” (Arabic for “Centre”).

The young group of activists rejected the Brotherhood’s centralized leadership and the religious dimension of the group, to focus on party politics and more liberal ideologies.

Another division occurred at the time of January 25 revolution, when the Brotherhood revolutionary youth joined the uprising, against the public directions of the supreme leader. However, the participation of this minority of Brotherhood youth, planned or fortuned, opened a door for the Muslim Brotherhood to fully embrace the uprising and join-in on the ground, once the first success signs appeared and without being directly involved in planning the initiative. The new reformist generation thus actually benefited his leadership by going against its doctrine of “sacred obedience.”



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