Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Courtesy Reuters A student and supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood makes the four-fingered Rabaa sign during clashes outside Cairo University, March 26, 2014.

Brothers in Trouble?

Gomaa Amin and the Future of the Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood spent 84 years toiling in Egypt’s opposition before winning power in June 2012 only to lose it 369 days later. It has been all downhill for the group since then. In the 14 months since the military responded to huge protests by toppling Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president, the group has faced an unrelenting crackdown that has practically decimated it as a political force in Egypt. Meanwhile, the Brotherhood’s deteriorating relations with key foreign governments have hindered its attempts to reorganize in exile. Even so, the group hasn’t revised its ideology or changed its strategy. It has refused to seek reconciliation with the new Egyptian regime or question the feasibility of its theocratic agenda. In fact, by selecting the London-based Brotherhood leader Gomaa Amin as acting Supreme Guide -- in other words, its chief executive -- the Brotherhood has likely doubled down.

The period since Morsi’s fall has been the darkest in the Brotherhood’s 86-year history. Within Egypt, at least 1,000 Muslim Brothers have been killed during crackdowns on their anti-coup protests, tens of thousands have been imprisoned, and the group’s notoriously rigid chain of command has been decapitated at both the national and provincial levels. The pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy has also collapsed: Many of the Alliance’s non-Brotherhood leaders were arrested in early July, and two of its main constituent parties -- the Brotherhood offshoot al-Wasat and the Salafist al-Watan -- bolted thereafter. Meanwhile, its cadres’ low-profile insurgency against the state, which targets government buildings and police vehicles, has alienated many potential civilian supporters. Ordinary Egyptians often clash with Muslim Brothers at the organization’s constantly shrinking pro-Morsi demonstrations.

The Brotherhood’s attempt to manage its affairs from abroad is faltering as well. Qatar, which strongly supported Morsi’s presidency and granted many Brotherhood figures asylum when he was ousted, recently responded to pressure from its anti-Brotherhood Gulf neighbors by asking top Brotherhood leaders to leave Doha. (It remains to be seen

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