Abdelwahab Meddeb on Muslim Brotherhood

MeddebThis (clickable sound file below) dates from 29 June, when it was broadcast as one of Meddeb’s weekly editorials on Med1, the excellent Tangiers-based Maghrebi Radio station, and is one of the most accurate analysis of the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy for take-over in Turkey, Egypt & Tunisia, proposed  as strategy & accurately  foreseen in an analysis by the Israeli services dating to the late 70s. If you have French listen. I will try to translate at least parts of it in the next couple of days & post it here.

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Comment on “Abdelwahab Meddeb on Muslim Brotherhood”

  1. It’s no secret that my French language skills, such as they were, faded dramatically over the years. I seem to read it better but it all seems so fast when I listen. Of course, I get bits and pieces but unless they are accompanied by a ‘come hither’ smile, all is lost. Since I have already posted comments on Egypt I will attempt another tack, one that considers Brazil and Turkey.

    As I may have mentioned, I watch and read a wide variety of cable news and print. I may not agree with it all, in fact I don’t, but at least my perspective is broadened somewhat. Put another way, my opinions are fortified.

    As seen in a television close-up, protesters look different the world over. The common denominator always seems to be those thugs that like to break into stores and loot. They must follow social media closely in order to determine where their cover is best. One thing about thugs, looters and rapists remains the same the world over; they are cowards.

    In spite of the differences in language and culture, the protests in Rio, Cairo and Istanbul were similar in that they vigorously opposed democratically elected leaders.

    Some things did, however, stand out. Had the female protesters in Brazil showed up in Tahrir Square wearing their revealing halter tops and shorts they would have all been raped at the very least. In Cairo, a woman protested at her peril wearing a simple headscarf and long sleeves. Turkey was a mixture, a bit of both though none so ‘hot’ as to be found in Brazil but with more painted faces.

    The crowds in all three places had legitimate concerns from the economic disaster of Egypt, the corruption of Brazil to the ever encroaching religious authoritarianism of Turkey.

    Twitter and Facebook can get young people out on the street. It is theatre for them with the appropriate slogans, costumes and chants. It is, for the most part, fun for the idle and unemployed which most of them are in these countries. Jobs make a difference everywhere. Throw in some over the top policing and some tear gas and a crowd of street revolutionaries are readily born.

    It is an easy thing to get people out, yelling, stomping and beating on drums but it is quite another to organize them into any kind of functional group capable of making wholesale institutional change. It is another step yet to make this “change” a success capable of creating jobs and economic success. Ever see a mob do that? You need infrastructure, institutions, transparent political parties, not to mention the assorted trappings of a free society from the media to the judicial system and a constitution. Try yelling your way into that! Social media is not social activism or anything like it. It is a communication tool and a wee one at that. Protesters have to work within the system and laws in order to effect real change. If you tear everything down you have chaos. Not too many employers looking for chaos workers or even amateur anarchists.

    Egypt is clearly in the most trouble. The people voted for a President and got a Pharaoh. The on-going problem is that only the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists have any sort of organization. The people on the street will go to parties. There is no evidence that they can organize and operate a political one. This is how the army regained control. They are organized and pull the levers on something near 40% of the Egyptian economy. They have the organization, 750,000 active and retired supporters and money, lots and lots of money including some $1.5 Billion a year courtesy of the American taxpayers. They have weapons too. Obama will get them more. Don’t ask me, ask him.

    Brazil is in the strongest position of the three democracies. They also have the World Cup Football in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. These things always cost money and fuel dislocation and corruption. But they will create jobs and make money too. Unlike Egypt and Turkey, the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, appears to have listened to the protesters. Time will tell. She has called for a plebiscite on political reform. To achieve a more lasting change the crowds of young people will need to create a political party to challenge Rousseff in any such vote. In order to clean it up and change it, you must somehow learn how to join it.

    The army will take care of Egypt in the short run. The young Turks face the most difficult challenge. They must organize and create a political party with a message that will appeal to the secular, the well-educated and the masses who brought Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to power. The fact is, that voter bloc is alive and well and might well vote for him yet again. Turkey could well have its own version of the Muslim Brotherhood soon. We’ve already seen in Egypt how that sort of government views democracy.

    The protesters in the street must learn there is more to ‘change’ than screaming and yelling and it won’t be fun. It’s called work. It is not enough to be against something; you have got to be for something too. You can’t bang a constitution out of a drum. You won’t find democracy in it either. Maybe they won’t achieve either. Maybe they don’t want a system like ours. Who says that they must? As I keep saying over and over, if we believe in democracy we should allow countries to develop as they will, as their population decides. They should also do all this on their own dime, or should I say Egyptian Pound, Brazilian Real or Turkish Lira?

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