The intense internal dynamics within the Muslim Brotherhood have been strategically planned and have been in progress for a long time. They primarily aim to capitalize on the ongoing political events in Egypt to resolve the internal conflict within the group that has persisted for years.
The Muslim Brotherhood has worked to exploit the atmosphere surrounding the Egyptian presidential elections to reaffirm the group’s presence in the Egyptian reality. This was the broad objective that was concluded in discussions within the organizational framework of the Brotherhood in August.
According to the writer and researcher Abdul Jalil El-Sharnouby, a dissident Brotherhood leader specializing in terrorist groups’ affairs, various Brotherhood factions have competed to crystallize a clear and publicly declared position that supports the declared leadership of the group. After meetings held in several international capitals, including Ankara and Istanbul in Turkey, and London in the United Kingdom, the London faction, led by Salah Abdel Hakeem, took the lead in announcing the Brotherhood’s position on the upcoming Egyptian presidential elections, which are on the horizon.
In a recent study, El-Sharnouby stated that an agreement was reached to lay down certain key markers: emphasizing that the organizational disputes are merely administrative disagreements on the path to resolution, reiterating the commitment not to seek power competition without giving up political work, calling for a general reconciliation driven by the national need for unity, without holding the Brotherhood solely responsible for the stage’s mistakes, highlighting the current presence of the Brotherhood in Egyptian society and the continuity of their activities within it, and clearing the air in Brotherhood-Saudi relations, as well as demanding the release of prisoners and detainees.
El-Sharnouby also mentioned that the Political Bureau of the organization concluded that the Brotherhood’s position should be announced through its official spokesperson, Helmy El-Gazar. The purpose was to present him to the global and local public as a model for the new phase’s leaders, characterized by openness and calmness, without lacking organizational formality due to his position.
El-Sharnouby explains that initially, it was planned for El-Gazar’s appearance to be on “Mekameleen,” a channel directly affiliated with the organization. However, an agreement was reached to change this option. Instead, the appearance was scheduled on “Al-Sharq” channel, owned by the politician Ayman Nour, which is openly funded by the Brotherhood, and secretly supported by them.
This choice, according to the researcher, was based on the channel’s classification as liberal, which would give El-Gazar’s appearance a relative credibility, supporting his open image and avoiding concerns that the TV dialogue might deviate from its intended objectives. Journalist Ahmed Attawan was assigned to coordinate the dialogue in collaboration with Ayman Nour. The interview between El-Gazar and Attawan was to be conducted separately from their colleagues presenting the program “Al-Sharq Street,” as El-Gazar is a member of the organization tasked with conducting the interview after receiving the questions approved by the Political Bureau.
Despite attempts to celebrate the first appearance of the Brotherhood‘s political wing’s official, waves of anger continued both within and outside the organization. Many considered that El-Gazar’s appearance amounted to a concession on his part. The Brotherhood’s rules, which they consider fundamental rights not to be relinquished, include their stance towards the regime. This view was exploited by the opposing organizational faction, led by Mahmoud Hussein, the ousted organization’s secretary-general, according to the study.
In addition, the organization’s media workers at “Watan” channel were directed to criticize and discredit the dialogue, with the Brotherhood journalist Mohamed Gamal Hilal leading the effort. He stripped the administrative legitimacy from El-Gazar and his team, considering them to represent only a small fraction of the external Brotherhood that accounts for only 3% of the Brotherhood members, with the majority of them in Egyptian prisons and underground. Both positions are contrary to what El-Gazar announced.
According to Hilal, he possesses evidence showing that the Brotherhood‘s guide and the imprisoned Guidance Office leaders rejected everything that El-Gazar announced. He also regarded his speech as aligning with the official Egyptian discourse towards the West.
He noted that grassroots reactions rejecting what El-Gazar announced continued. These reactions, in their entirety, fall within the framework of comments such as “His dialogue is mostly right, and everything he said is only a personal view of his, an ill-timed appearance.”
According to the study, the Brotherhood‘s messages are a collective expression of organizational factions. It indicates that the organization’s ability to engage with the upcoming presidential elections is far less than the exaggerated expectations expressed by some media outlets regarding the messages conveyed by the dialogue. This is because the organization’s reality suggests isolated leadership islands that are detached from the ground reality, both inside and outside Egypt. What El-Gazar officially announced is a political presentation rather than genuine political demands. The aim is to reintroduce the organization to the international and local community, hoping that the team represented by El-Gazar will be recognized as the official negotiating party speaking on behalf of the organization. If this happens, El-Gazar and his team will exit the Brotherhood’s public scene to confirm that they have resolved the battle for control of the organization’s leadership, which is the biggest expected gain from the London wing’s investment in the upcoming presidential elections.