The move came just days after the Brotherhood said it was considering putting forth a presidential candidate from its ranks, something it had promised not to do.
The rift between the once-underground group and the military burst into the open this weekend, with the Brotherhood issuing a scathing statement calling the military-appointed government a failure and raising concern over the credibility of the upcoming presidential election. The military council fired back Sunday, condemning the Brotherhood for “doubting” the institution and making “fabricated” allegations.
The Brotherhood and its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, were initially hesitant to challenge the military after the revolt that ousted President Hosni Mubarak last year. But the Islamist movement became emboldened after winning nearly half the seats in parliament in elections that ended in February.
Now, its leaders are going so far as to oppose the generals’ private requests for immunity from prosecution for accusations of killings and mistakes committed during Egypt’s political transition, something they were open to just two months ago. They are demanding the dissolution of the military-appointed government of Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri.
Some in the Brotherhood leadership are even ready to go after the military’s economic holdings. Brotherhood members are calling for various military industries, estimated at 5 to 45 percent of the nation’s economy, to be placed under parliamentary oversight and added to the national treasury. The military has fiercely resisted that prospect.
“There’s been a major shift in Egyptian politics,” said Shadi Hamid, an expert on the Brotherhood at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center. “The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is entering its lame-duck stage. At this point, no one can stop the Brotherhood.”
The aged and increasingly unpopular generals are still in control of Egypt, a longtime U.S. ally considered a linchpin for Middle East peace. But the Brotherhood has been able to leverage its influence using the parliament, which is likely to become a key vehicle for channeling popular concerns, analysts said. Already, the military council has been forced to cave on several key issues amid public discontent.
Some analysts said the growing confrontation might endanger the political transition, with presidential elections less than two months away.