Accused of taking an authoritarian turn and being unable to sort Egypt’s economic problems, Mohammed Morsi, the democratically elected Egyptian president was ousted earlier this year.
The ensuing crackdown on his party, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), has pushed the organisation to return to the underground organisation with which it had worked for decades. The implications are region-wide, not only because of Egypt’s strategic position in the Middle East but also because of the impact the Egyptian episode could have for other MB-linked groups which are widespread in the region.
Disillusionment with the democratic process could lead MB-like entities in the region to decide against assuming governmental responsibilities or even participating into the electoral process at all. This could induce radicalisation of part of the movement and/or a shift of allegiances to competing Islamist groups.
Therefore, even if in the short term most Western parties may be relieved at getting rid of Islamists from power in Egypt, in the long term weakening and/or radicalisation of MB risks leaving international actors without what had seemed to be a relatively “moderate” alternative to hard-line Islamist movements. These will probably gain strength, and be better placed to propose alternative scenarios, as the result of the failed MB democratic experience.