Khairat Al Shater And The President: A Divide

[caption id="attachment_674" align="aligncenter" width="580"] Khairat Al Shater, courtesy of Egypt Independent[/caption]

It is Khairat Al Shater, and not the Supreme Guide Mohamed Badei, who has been seen as really running the Muslim Brotherhood behind the scenes.

The multi-millionaire, or The Engineer as he likes to called by friends, is regarded as the brains behind the group’s “Renaissance” or El Nahda project, and is among the most powerful members of the Islamist movement.

But a series of thinly veiled attacks by Mr Al Shater on the president suggest an increasing divide between the man who could have been president and Mohammed Morsi.

Last month, in a relatively unimportant conference with a low attendance, Mr Al Shater slammed the main electoral platform of Mr Morsi, saying “There is no Nahda Project”.

“There is no clear, defined, or final program,” he said, criticising the policies that Mohammed Morsi relied on in his presidential campaigns.  The project is seen as Mr Morsi’s national plan for Egypt’s social, political, and economic rebirth.

Perhaps Mr Al Shater’s position as deputy under the uncharismatic Mr Morsi doesn’t quite sate his political and economic ambitions? And perhaps the president doesn’t like taking orders from a strong-willed businessman?

The rumblings of discontent have also spread to Mr El Shater’s international exposure.  His absence was obvious during Mr Morsi’s trip to China, a vital pillar of Egypt’s business plans in the months to come.

Instead Hassan Malek, one of the top Brotherhood businessmen and a former business partner of Mr El Shater, headed the team of businessmen accompanying the president.

The local papers have been going wild with speculation that Mr Al Shater’s attempts to use his position in the Brotherhood to influence the president are being met with criticism on the inside.

In another subtle attack on Mr Morsi’s diplomatic failures, Mr Al Shater sent a personal letter to the New York Times passing on the Muslim Brotherhood’s condolences for the US embassy attacks, before the president himself had given extensive remarks on the incident.

It was a strategically important move that distanced Mr Al Shater from the president’s slow response.

But these actions do not bode well for Mr Al Shater.    His personal website has been closed down.

The website was actually maintained by the Muslim Brotherhood’s technical team (The same people who run, their main site, for instance), according to a search on WHOIS, which can shed light on the owner of a website.

It raises the question of whether it was the Muslim Brotherhood itself or Mr Al Shater’s personal decision to remove the website.

What does this mean for the Renaissance project and Egypt’s political and economic success if the top person behind the plan is distancing himself from the project and the Muslim Brotherhood?

If Khairat Al Shater is not in charge of the plan, who is? 

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