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Rick Moran


August 18, 2013 - 9:19 am

In Egypt, you have the army and the secularists arrayed against the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood. But now a “third force” is emerging that will complicate matters enormously and could lead to a total breakdown of civil society.

Desperate citizens who have watched as roving gangs of Islamists ravage their neighborhoods have formed vigilante groups who are becoming a force allied with the military. It is their violent tendencies and unpredictability that makes them a wild card in the bloodletting going on in the streets of Cairo.

Los Angeles Times:

The scene at Al Fatih mosque was a sign that vigilante groups, some known as popular committees, were rising in neighborhoods to support the army against the Brotherhood. Their presence reveals how perilous Egypt has become at a time when the military is casting Islamists as terrorists in a public relations war over the country’s future.

The government-sanctioned popular committees appeared Friday in Cairo, setting up barricades and guarding neighborhoods with knives and clubs. They are reminiscent of the armed men and boys who roamed the streets in the security breakdown during the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. The formation of the latest committees was called for by Rebel, a youth movement that has backed the army’s takeover of the country.

For much of the day, security forces did not prevent mobs from massing around the mosque or from beating Brotherhood followers as they exited the building and were hurried toward police trucks. Those in the crowd, mostly young men, brimmed with rage, many of them shaped by an us-against-them nationalism perpetuated by the military in recent weeks.

It was unclear, though, whether the new government would be able to control the mobs as Egypt becomes more fragmented and bitter over a disastrous economy as well as political divisions. There is danger of increasing conflicts between vigilantes and militias attached to the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups, including extremists, such as the militants in the Sinai Peninsula.

“This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be,” said Hamdi Abdelgelil, who stood in the courtyard of the mosque as men with sticks pummeled a man attempting to leave. “Beat him, beat him,” they chanted as the man retreated back inside, running up stairs that were speckled with blood.

“This is not Egypt. Where is the security?” said Abdelgelil, shaking his head. “These people [the army] are supposed to be our masters, but we look like barbarians.”

“This is the Brotherhood’s fault,” men around him yelled.

Some of this is eerily reminiscent of the Lebanese civil war of the 1970′s and 80′s. Checkpoints are being set up, the factionalization of the country is leading to increased violence that can’t be controlled by security forces stretched to the limit already, and the presence of a weak central government that can’t control the streets.

It’s a free-for-all that threatens to descend into chaos.

The army has not intervened — yet. The interior ministry forces, led by the police and non-uniformed auxiliaries, have been responsible for security. How long can the army stay sidelined?

The head of Egypt’s military says the army will not stand by silently in the face of violence after hundreds of people were killed during the country’s recent political unrest.

He spoke as an Islamist alliance opposed to the military’s ouster of president Mohamed Morsi called off a planned rally in Cairo due to security concerns.

Army Chief General Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi said the army has no intention to seize power and called on Islamists to join the political process. In his first public comments since last week’s crackdown against protest camps, he told military and police officers his message to pro-Morsi supporters is that “there is room for everyone in Egypt.”

Earlier, Egyptian security forces raided the homes of Muslim Brotherhood members, detaining mid-level officials and field operatives in several cities in an apparent attempt to cripple the group’s protest plans.

The Brotherhood, and the broader Anti-Coup Alliance, had said they would hold mass rallies in front of the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo and in other cities across Egypt. But an alliance spokeswoman said the Cairo march was cancelled “for security reasons.”

The cabinet is discussing whether to ban the Muslim Brotherhood altogether, rather than break their grip on power. It should be recalled that despite charges of voter fraud in the parliamentary election, a clear majority of Egyptians preferred the Islamists and their salafist allies in the Nour Party. Nour has largely sat out the current crisis, preferring to support the government against their long-time rivals, the Muslim Brotherhood. But their share of the vote in the election was less than 25% and any future vote without the Muslim Brotherhood would break the hold that Islamists currently have on the ballot box.

The government worries that banning the Brotherhood might garner them some sympathy. But if the violence continues, and the government can keep blaming the Brotherhood for the bloodshed, there won’t be much sympathy from a population fearful of security breakdowns.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

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All Comments   (6)
All Comments   (6)
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Are those American tanks in the back ground? Man they look good. I guess operation pyramid is a go.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think it's a mistake to look at the results of the last election as any kind of indication of the level of support for various groups, especially the Brotherhood. The last elections were rushed, meaning the Brotherhood was the only entity that was remotely prepared, which would elevate their perceived popularity. The fact that the MB government was brought down by the largest political protest in history means they're not terribly popular.

If the political situation stabilizes long enough to allow actual functioning political parties to form we might get an idea of the true intentions of the Egyptian people. I'd be willing to bet that, while there would be a salafist component, it would not hold significant power.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
An atavistic part of me can't help believing that the chaos that has engulfed Syria and is now engulfing Egypt just might be the Divine judgment on a couple of societies all of whose conflicting, mutually antagonistic factions could agree on one thing only: Never accept or make friends with the Jews...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My friends in Egypt participated in the local watch committees when the police left the streets after Jan. '11. They are ready now to defend their neighborhoods if necessary. In the area of the Fatih mosque, the Brotherhood had set up a mini-sharia state, with beatings and Islamic punishments of people in the area. It's hard to defend, in American terms, the eye-for-an eye return beatings the MB was getting as they tried to exit the mosque, but it should be remembered that Egypt isn't the USA and "turn the other cheek" is not an Islamic principle.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws the Muslim Brotherhood/Democratic Party forever. The bombing begins in five minutes.”

- A Future President
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
First of all, the last source I would rely on for an understanding of events in Egypt, would be the L.A Times.

Secondly, a little history is in order. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 by an admirer of Adolf Hitler and the German Fascists, and is organized, and operates much as the Nazis did in Germany. The MB has it's own armed militias and doesn't hesitate to use them in violent ways. The MB winning an election means about as much as Hitler winning an election.

The best possible outcome for the people of Egypt, is for the Army to crush the MB, and prohibit any political activities by it's survivors. Unfortunately, that means that there will probably be quite a bit of violence in Egypt for the foreseeable future.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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