The Brotherhood has traditionally insisted on strict discipline from its followers. But with the leadership severely weakened, it is much less able to execute a strategy.
Ibrahim el-Houdaiby, a political analyst who belongs to a prominent Muslim Brotherhood family but left the organization in recent years, said, “There is no Brotherhood in terms of hierarchy and decision making. All decisions are being taken on a very local, individual level.”
It is not only the current leadership that is being decimated but also, potentially, the future ranks. Among those who have died in the crackdown are Badie’s 38-year-old son, the 17-year-old daughter of Freedom and Justice Party leader Mohamed Beltagy, and Khaled al-Banna, the grandson of the Brotherhood’s founder, Hassan al-Banna. All were shot by security forces over the past week.
In a sign of the disarray, the Freedom and Justice Party announced Tuesday that Badie would be replaced on an interim basis by Mahmoud Ezzat, the organization’s second in command, who is rumored to be abroad. Later in the day, on its Facebook page, the party retracted the announcement and said that only the Brotherhood could release such news.
The fragmentation could have far-reaching consequences, for instance, if the government eventually wants to negotiate with the group. Houdaiby said the government, by trying to destroy the Brotherhood’s leadership, may no longer have a negotiating partner that can keep the group’s followers in line. He said the Brotherhood is already losing control over them.
“It will lose a great part of its members to violent movements,” Houdaiby said.
Campaign against the group
With Egypt becoming increasingly polarized, the Brotherhood’s opponents are cheering signs of the group’s possible demise. Newspapers and television stations have been waging a sustained campaign against the group, labeling the Brotherhood as terrorists and predicting its collapse. On Tuesday, the headline in the liberal Tahrir newspaper, named for the revolution that unfolded more than two years ago in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square, trumpeted: “The End of the Brotherhood.”
The Tamarod movement, which led the massive street demonstrations that culminated in the coup that toppled Morsi, on Tuesday repeated its call to ban the Brotherhood.
Brotherhood figures are not the only ones in the cross hairs, however. Also Tuesday, a lawsuit was filed against Mohamed ElBaradei, who briefly served as Egypt’s vice president after Morsi’s ouster before resigning in protest at the bloodshed last week and leaving the country.
The case was brought by an Egyptian professor, who accused ElBaradei of “betrayal of trust” for quitting his post. Private lawsuits were used extensively under Mubarak, and under Morsi, to tame political opponents.
Amer Shakhatreh and Lara El Gibaly contributed to this report.