This is the first post in a four-post series called Egypt: The Brotherhood, the Christians and the Americans. The first post lays out the major groups in Egypt. The second post looks at what’s next for the Muslim Brotherhood. The third post is concerned with the fate of Christians in Egypt. The fourth post is about America’s role in the current Egypt.
It’s easy to build dichotomies. We like binaries, and so does the media. Good versus evil. Democratic or dictatorial. Black and white. This dualist perspective is comfortable and easy to understand, but it is often untrue. As is the case in Egypt.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to simplify, as long as we recognize that life is, most of the time, not so simple.
Right now, the situation in Egypt is anything but simple. As much as we may like to believe it’s merely a battle between secularists and Islamists, democrats and authoritarians, pro-Morsi and pro-military, it’s not that easy. Political and social and religious groups are interwoven and constantly shifting directions and loyalties. The above diagram should, if nothing else, emphasize the complexity of the situation and demonstrate that there are no easy answers now.
Who are the main players?
Predominantly pro-Morsi groups include the Muslim Brotherhood (the party in which former president Mohammed Morsi came up) and the umbrella group known as the Anti-Coup, Pro-Democracy Alliance. Some of the more militant Islamists, especially those running terrorist operations in the Sinai, side with Morsi, though they tend to favor an even stricter brand of political Islam.
The groups that throw their weight into the pro-military camp are, obviously, the Egyptian Army and police, as well as the Kefaya Movement — a mostly non-violent, intellectual group — and the National Salvation Front. The NSF is comprised of many different groups, some of the more prominent being the Constitution Party (headed by Muhammed El Baradei), the Conference Party (headed by Amr Moussa), the Wafd Party and the Egyptian Popular Current.
“The Third Square” is the label given to groups that oppose both Morsi and military rule. Among them are the Nour Party — the largest party in the Egyptian Salafist community — the Strong Egypt Party, the Revolutionary Socialists and the April 6 Youth Movement, which is secular and has a strong social media presence. Al-Wasat, the Center Party, is a Muslim group that’s more moderate than the Brotherhood. The Coptic Orthodox Church naturally opposes Islamist rule and, in the aftermath of Morsi’s ouster and recent attacks on churches, is becoming a strong backer of military action. The Tamarod (“Rebellion”) is a conglomerate group and has garnered the support of the NSF and the Nour Party, as well as many young secularists. Most of these groups lean toward the military, but some have condemned the army’s brutality against the pro-Morsi sit-ins.
The idea for the diagram came from the Operation Egypt blog.
For a fuller description of some of the groups described above, along with several others, check out Al Ahram’s political map.