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Egypt’s MB Looks To AK Example in Turkey — Probably in Vain

Is Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood hoping to emulate success of the AK Party in Turkey? The Financial Times (subscription req) reports that in choosing to fete a presidential candidate, the Brotherhood is looking to take on the country’s hitherto dominant military:

[T]he Brotherhood dropped a bombshell at the weekend with a decision to nominate Khairat al-Shater, its strategist and most formidable leader, as its candidate in the May 23 presidential election.

The movement’s brazen push for power is a dramatic departure from its decades-old approach of cautious, gradual politics and its more recent preference for sharing in the responsibility of ruling Egypt’s 80m people…

“The Brotherhood is going into uncharted territory here,” says Shadi Hamid, expert on Islamist movements at the Brookings Doha Centre. But the Islamists’ overriding objective, he adds, is to end to military rule, even at the cost of undermining their credibility. “The Brotherhood doesn’t want to have 30 years of war of attrition with the military, they want the military out of public life,” says Mr Hamid.

In Turkey, the AK pushed the secularist military aside, raised the country’s profile internationally and oversaw an economy that, though under stress, has outperformed Europe.

But while this must be very inspiring for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, they are unlikely to enjoy as much success. Turkey’s AK Party took over from a nationalist, secular movement that had succeeded in most of its modernization goals. Egypt’s MB will be inheriting a dysfunctional mess. Nasser and his successors were dismal flops when it came to economic modernization and development, and that legacy of failure (and the corruption that grew up alongside it) means that Egypt’s new rulers have a much harder job than the Turks.

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