In the west, “bracketology” is a technique used to make sense of March Madness. The Middle Eastern equivalent comes in April this year as the Egyptian presidential campaign is replete with Arabic hijinks, political intrigue, and a jockeying for position that takes mudslinging to an entirely new level. Multiple candidates have been disqualified and The Muslim Brotherhood may be able to have its cake and eat it too if a “former” Muslim Brotherhood member wins next month.
Let’s take a look at the race as it stands now:
Ahmad Shafiq: represents the Mubarak loyalists. North Sinai, Red Sea, Luxor and all the tourism population will go liberal and probably vote for him. But the tourism industry does not represent the majority of the voters and Egypt decided to go in a new direction with Mubarak’s ouster. A Shafiq victory would be about as likely as a Ralph Nader victory in the U.S.
Amr Musa: while he is the most popular candidate, he is a crafty politician and will eventually gain Omar Suleiman’s votes after the former Mubarak spy chief was disqualified for failing to get the required number of signatures. What could be a significant problem for Musa is his alleged Jewish connection. According to various Arabic websites, his father married Raqia Ibrahim, a classical Egyptian actress in the old days whose real name is Rachel Abram Levi, who was a spy for the Mossad as her grand daughter stated.
Rachel Levi’s granddaughter, Rita David Thomas, allegedly kept a diary in which her grandmother wrote that Rachel (Raqia Ibrahim) participated in spying on Samira Moussa, the nuclear scientist who was assassinated by the Mossad in the fifties. If this story goes viral in Egypt, the possibility for an Islamist takeover will be immense and the number of Islamist candidates is winding down since two of the main Islamists have been disqualified from running. These are the Salafist candidate, Hazem Abu-Ismail, who was the front runner, and the Brotherhood’s Khairat al-Shater of the Brotherhood’s “Freedom and Justice Party.”
Khairat Al-Shater: disqualified since he is a law-breaker. The law in Egypt is that any candidate must wait six years after a pardon or completed sentence before eligibility can be granted. You see, al-Shater has received multiple prison sentences (five different times), which tends to cause problems for presidential candidates – even in Egypt. In the two cases that are causing him eligibility woes, al-Shater was accused of money laundering and funding a then-illegal group – the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Ahram explains that al-Shater was pardoned shortly after the fall of Mubarak. According to Fana News, a legal debate about al-Shater’s eligibility is centered around a law that says the Muslim Brotherhood candidate cannot run for at least six years after either being pardoned or serving such a prison sentence.
Hazem Salah Abu Ismail: the Salafist who appears to have an eligibility issue of his own. According to Al-Ahram, Egypt’s Interior Minister has ruled that Ismail does not qualify for the presidency because his mother held American citizenship. The smoking gun appears to have come in the form of passport number 500611598. Ironically, Ismail is the most fanatic candidate and his mother’s U.S. citizenship has disqualified him.
As always, the Muslim Brotherhood has a backup plan…
Mohammed Mursi: Formally replaces al-Shater as the Muslim Brotherhood candidate but does not enjoy much popularity and sources close to the M.B Shura Council reveal that they are thinking of abandoning Mursi and bringing back Abul-Futuh. This way they can unite all Islamic voices (both Salafists and M.B). By doing this, an Islamist would likely win, which would solifify Egypt’s fate as an Islamic state. The man who appears to be the most qualified candidate to do this is none other than Abul-Futuh.
Abol-Futuh: Still qualifies despite the fact that many argue he is registered as a citizen of Qatar. Under Egyptian law, it is a problem to apply for citizenship in a foreign land without permission of the Egyptian government. If Futuh holds Qatarian citizenship, it technically could mean his disqualification but there are a lot of forces behind him right now so that is not likely even if true. Futuh has been endorsed by top Muslim Brotherhood cleric and scholar, Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Futuh was expelled from the Brotherhood last year because he announced his run for president. Ok, so why is Qaradawi supporting a former Muslim Brotherhood member instead of a current one?
Ah, one very distinct – and very likely – possibility is Muruna.
Analysis: The votes intended for al-Shater will likely split between Muhammad Mursi and Abol-Futuh but Futuh is expected to gain the lion’s share of Ismail’s votes because teh Salafists see him as an Islamist as well as a renegade from the Brotherhood, which is their primary competitor. Futuh can also unite the liberals and Islamists, the Salafists and Brotherhood. Huge numbers from the Wafd and April 6th already announced that they are supporting Abol-Futuh.