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July 31, 2007




How much of the Egyptian variant's successes can be laid at the feet of Mubarak's more heavy-handed approach? Your analysis gives one the impression that the Jordanian MB is marginalizing itself, when in fact, some credit (in the same way one should credit Karl Rove) should go to a more subtle approach by Abdullah II and his cronies. From the way you tell it (and so far, I've seen no better narrative), it seems the Jordanian mukhabarat backed al-ikhwan into a corner, and their only choice was a humiliating withdrawal.


Yes, I think there's a lot to that - the Jordanians have long been absolute masters of the gerrymandering, political engineering game, whereas the Egyptians are rather crude and obvious about it.


the reason the Jordanian IAF fielded about 33 candidates only was due to the intense vilification campaign they have been subjected to by the jordanian regime months before. Many Jordanians who support the IAF and their anti-corruption, anti-imperialism, pro-democracy platform, were too afraid to be identified with them openly. The poor showing of the MB in Jordan is a result of official intimidation campaign by the regime not lack of popularity of the islamists.


I would see the Jordanian MB's decision to only field a few candidates as a sign of the strong control the regime holds over the political field, whether that control in Egypt is getting weaker -- paradoxically, hence the need to resort to violence and obvious fraud on election days. The Egyptian MB knows this, and especially knows Mubarak's days are numbered because of his age if not because of his grip on power, and are taking advantage (within reasonable limits, since they only fielded about 120 candidates out of a possible 444 in 2005 and 19 out of 84 in 2007) of the general latent political uncertainty to make advances. Neither group feels it has a shot in hell of immediately making a difference, but the potential for a real breakthrough is much closer in Egypt than in Jordan -- not because the former is more liberal and permissive, but because it is less in control of things. Also, we must remember the Egyptian MB (and presumably the Jordanian one) is also constantly re-negotiating its position vis-a-vis the regime or at least elements of it, in part tactically and in part because of internal debate within those groups (or else why would Mahdi Akef say things like Mubarak is a respectable man and he regrets that some Brothers have spoken disparagingly of him, as he did a few days ago in the press?)

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