Brotherhood May Have Stoked Gaza

Wednesday, 21 Nov 2012 02:49 PM

By Tawfik Hamid

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Now that a cease-fire has been declared between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, there are several concerns that still must be addressed: Who was behind this escalation in the first place and why did it occur at this particular moment in time?

Egyptians have been turning against the Muslim Brotherhood in recent weeks, which could help explain the situation in neighboring Gaza. This is mainly because of the deteriorating economic situation in Egypt since the brotherhood came to power.

muslim-brotherhood-protest-(1).jpg
An Egyptian walks along Tahrir square during clashes between government supporters and opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood on October 12.
(Getty Images)
Long lines by Egyptians to get gas for their cars and electricity cuts to homes due to diminished energy supplies have become common since the MB took power after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.

Furthermore, attempts to limit freedom of the press and censor the Internet have sparked outrage by many Egyptian liberals against the ruling Islamist regime.

Additionally, the recent decision of the Muslim Brotherhood government to close shops at 10 pm created a strong public backlash since this represents a significant departure from Egyptian cultural habits.
Increasing food prices has only exacerbated the situation.

The very high expectations that Islamists will ‘miraculously’ solve the problems of the country and the failure of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has only made things worse for the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi promised that many of the country’s problems would be solved within the first 100 days of his presidency.

The anger of the Egyptian street against the new government has reached a level that started to shake the power of the Muslim Brotherhood in recent weeks as thousands of Egyptians demonstrated against the brotherhood.

It was not difficult for the MB to request — and probably help their sister Hamas organization — in flooding Israel with rocket attacks on  civilians to spark an Israeli military retaliation.

The latter has diverted the focus of Egyptians away from the country's internal issues to focus instead on the Palestinian problem, thus deflecting mounting public pressure and criticism on the MB. It is important in this context to note that both groups share a common ideological tenet for the desctruction of Israel. Leading members of Hamas have already pledged their allegiance (in public) to the supreme ruler of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Swearing an oath of allegiance to the MB simply means that the MB can easily stop Hamas from firing rockets on Israeli civilians. Not doing so means that the MB —not just Hamas — is responsible for attacking Israeli civilians.

Igniting a military confrontation and pulling Israel into a clash in Gaza could also be used by the MB to justify opening Egypt’s borders with Gaza and gaining public support for economic aid to Gaza — as Egyptians continue to suffer back home.

Many Egyptians were angry that the MB provided diesel to the Gazans while Egyptians suffer a fuel shortage and wait for hours in long lines.

Support for opening the borders with Gaza diminished after members of radical Palestinian Islamic groups entered Sinai and killed 16 Egyptian soldiers.

But with the recent hostilities in the region, the Muslim Brotherhood can regain public support for opening the borders with Gaza — and for sending economic support to its neighbor.

The Palestinians who enter Sinai will help the Muslim Brotherhood hold power in Egypt. Trained military personnel from Hamas will be ready to assist the MB in the event that there is a public uprising in Egypt.

Interestingly, many Egyptians — as observed on mainstream Arabic media and Internet social networks — did not get distracted with the Gaza issue and have criticized the MB for mismanagement of the country.

In fact, the recent killing of more than 50 young school children in a train accident in the south of Egypt turned more people against the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptians have criticized the brotherhood-led government in Egypt for providing more care and attention to the Gazans than to the families of Egyptian children killed in this horrific accident.

In recent days, Facebook and Twitter have been abuzz with outrage over the apparent preference shown to Palestinians over Egyptian citizens.

This is why I suspect that the recent rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas may have been orchestrated by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

For Map of Gaza Strip, Israel, Palestinian Region Click Here.

Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad: Understanding and Confronting Radical Islam." Read more reports from Tawfik Hamid — Click Here Now.

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