Is the Fraternity’s call for reconciliation with Cairo genuine?

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The Muslim Brotherhood calls for dialogue with the Egyptian presidency without preconditions.

In a letter dated September 14, Youssef Nada, a prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader and the group’s former commissioner for international relations, said “the door is open to dialogue” with the Egyptian presidency. “We have learned in politics that putting in place preconditions thwarts dialogue,” he added.

Nada’s letter came in response to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s live speech on September 11 at the launch of the National Strategy for Human Rights, the first of its kind, which aims to develop the record of the Egypt in human rights. “Over the past 90 to 100 years, Egyptian society has imbued itself with a specific thought,” said Sisi, referring to the ideology of the brotherhood founded in 1928.

“I don’t disagree with them (the Brotherhood), but as long as they respect my path and don’t cross or target me… I will accept. [the Brotherhood’s] thought, but he won’t force it on me, and he won’t [use it to] put pressure on me, not only on me as a person, but also on Egypt and society, ”he added.

In her letter, Nada said: “Opening a dialogue with the Egyptian presidency… requires ending the suffering of imprisoned women and men and the suffering of their families.

In recent years, the Muslim Brotherhood has at times expressed its willingness to reconcile with the Egyptian state, but so far reconciliation initiatives have been conditional. On August 14, 2018, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the violent dispersal of sit-ins organized by supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi in Rabaa and al-Nahda squares, the group announced a 10-point initiative, calling for early presidential elections. .

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The initiative underlined at the time that the group is a national faction and a peaceful organization. He also underlined the importance of the rights of victims of the dispersal of sit-ins and the need for justice.

This year, on March 23, Ibrahim Munir, deputy general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, reiterated the group’s desire to reconcile with the state on several conditions. “If the Egyptian opposition, of which we are a part, is offered a dialogue with the regime that covers the conditions of the detainees and improves the conditions of the people, we will not refuse. We would surely be wrong to refuse, ”he said in an interview with Al-Jazeera.

In a Tweeter on September 11, Egyptian opposition journalist Gamal Sultan said Sisi opened the door to reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood in his speech and said he was ready to accept their presence. Sultan argued, however, that Sisi tied the dialogue to three conditions: the Muslim Brotherhood must recognize his authority and legitimacy, they must not stand in his way or challenge his power, and they must not. criticize.

Hassan Nafaa, professor of political science at Cairo University, said Al-Monitor Sisi’s recent speech was interpreted as a call for reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood. “Sisi tried to throw the ball into the group’s court and blame them for exploiting the ignorance and religious slogans of the Egyptian people to achieve their goals and gain power,” he said.

Nafaa said the recent Muslim Brotherhood call for reconciliation was aimed at testing the waters and exploring the state’s intentions, especially since it comes in the wake of major international and US pressure on Egypt to that it correct its human rights record.

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He said the call for dialogue follows attempts by the Egyptian state to ease international pressure by proposing a human rights development strategy with the aim of conveying to the world the image that Egypt has a democratic climate and seeks to promote human rights conditions.

On September 15, a spokesperson for the US State Department revealed that Joe Biden’s administration would withhold $ 130 million in military aid to Egypt unless Cairo meets specific human rights requirements. the man.

Earlier this year, on March 12, 31 countries, including European countries, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, issued a joint statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council United Nations expressing concern at the violation of freedoms in Egypt. The statement called on Egypt to refrain from using anti-terrorism laws to muzzle opponents, human rights defenders and journalists, and to end pretrial detentions.

“These stages of reconciliation [by the Brotherhood], however, remain a simple attempt to embarrass the state and show that it does not tolerate opposition and refuses to dialogue with it. I don’t expect the state to respond positively despite international criticism. The Egyptian state regards this group as a threat to its existence and identity, ”Nafaa said.

Samir Ghattas, former member of parliament and head of the Middle East Forum for Political and Strategic Studies, told Al-Monitor: “It is possible for the state to reach political agreements with the reform movement within the Muslim Brotherhood, but not with the Muslim Brotherhood. Qutbi movement, which is prone to violence and confrontation with state institutions.

He noted that the state had succeeded in exhausting and pressuring the group to impose their terms on them. “This is all the more true in the light of the Egyptian-Turkish reconciliation. Egypt had asked Turkey to stop funding, supporting and embracing the Brotherhood. It also coincides with the weakening of the group’s influence in Morocco and Tunisia. All of these factors have weakened the group’s negotiating position with the state, ”Ghattas added.

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On June 24, Turkish authorities asked journalists affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood to cease their media activities on its lands, whether on satellite platforms, social media sites or YouTube. The measure appears to be part of Ankara’s efforts to get closer to Egypt.

More recently, in Morocco, the ruling Justice and Development Party – the branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in this North African country – lost most of its seats in parliament in the September 8 legislative elections, no. obtaining only 12 seats against 125.

Commenting on US pressure on Egypt, Ghattas said the amount of aid withheld by the Biden administration is rather small and will not pose a real threat to the state. He ruled out further escalation or suspension of aid to Egypt by the US administration in the coming period. “For Washington, Cairo is a regional pillar of stability in many areas, including the Palestinian issue and relations with Israel,” he said.

The United States has allocated $ 1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt since the signing of the Camp David peace accord between Egypt and Israel in 1978.

On May 21, US President Joe Biden thanked Sisi for Egyptian efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. He praised the crucial role played by Egyptian officials in this diplomatic process.

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