For region's Islamists, Morsi win in Egypt expands sense of the possible
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which now controls both the presidency and much of parliament, has counterparts and allies across the region who are expecting President Morsi to bring change.
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“The Islamist movement in the UAE probably feels empowered by the rise of the Brotherhood in Egypt and may attempt to strengthen ties with the group in the hopes that pressure is put on the local authorities,” Mr. Qassemi says, adding that such a move would prompt a “severe backlash” from authorities.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Turmoil in Egypt
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For Israel, Morsi’s win is less than encouraging. But he has promised to respect international accords, and there is unlikely to be any change to the peace agreement with Israel. What is likely to change is Morsi's tone, as he comes under popular pressure to take a harsher stance.
But some expect more from Morsi than encouragement. Given the ties between the Egyptian Brotherhood and Hamas, officials of the Gazan organization are hoping Morsi’s win translates to changes in Egyptian policy toward Gaza. Under Mubarak, Egypt was hostile to Hamas and participated in Israel’s blockade of Gaza, keeping the border crossing at Rafah largely shut for years. The crossing has been opened to a limited flow of people, but Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas leader, says he expects Morsi to open the border to goods as well as people, and allow trade between Egypt and Gaza.
“The Egyptian people made their revolution against Mubarak’s policies internally and externally,” he said in a phone interview. He says he expects a change within a few months. “We spent many years suffering from the previous administration … so a few months is not a long time” to wait, he said.
Syrian partner poses a particular challenge
In Syria, where an uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has turned into a drawn-out armed conflict, many members of the opposition coalition known as the Syrian National Council (SNC) are from the Syrian Brotherhood. They also hope Morsi’s win will mean tangible assistance from Egypt.
“We the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria feel that this is going to be an advantage for the Syrian people,” says Molham Al Drobi, a member of the SNC and the Syrian Brotherhood. “We expect support from the Egyptians to help our revolution in Syria.”
The SNC wants Egypt to prevent Russian and Iranian ships believed to be carrying arms for the Syrian government from using the Suez Canal. “We hope and expect that this should be done immediately. And then we expect political support, logistical support, and financial support for our own people in Syria. When I say that, I mean all Syrians, not just the Muslim Brotherhood,” Mr. Drobi says.
But Morsi’s victory also poses a potential challenge for the Syrian Brotherhood. If Morsi’s presidency is seen as inclusive, it could boost the reputation of the Syrian affiliate; if he pursues an Islamist agenda and alienates non-Islamist forces, it could reflect badly on the organization, boosting critics of the Syrian Brotherhood's role in the SNC.