Egypt in crisisEgypt's opposition groups have varied, conflicting agendas

Published 4 February 2011

The opposition to the Mubarak regime is not unified except on one issue: the removal of Hosni Mubarak from power; the five major groups leading the opposition include the pious Muslim Brotherhood, the liberal Al Ghad Party, the nationalist WAFD Party, the socialist 6 April Youth movement, and the umbrella group National Association for Change (NAC), led by Mohamed el Baradei, which includes all these groups, and many more; the Brotherhood enjoys the broadest popular support among Egypt’s poor (and the vast majority of Egyptians are poor), and the best organization; to prevent the Brotherhood from coming to power, the WAFD and AL GHAD parties, with the support of el Baradei and some of the smaller members of the NAC, should consider cooperation with Ahmed Shafik, Omar Suleiman, and Sami Annan — the troika set to succeed Mubarak

Riot van drives through barricade in Cairo // Source:

Television coverage — and what passes today for TV analysis — may give the impression that the opposition to Hosni Mubarak’s regime is unified and well-coordinated. It is not. Fox News correctly reports that, in fact, the opposition to the current regime in Egypt consists of several groups that often have varied and conflicting agendas. Here is a short background on the five key opposition groups in Egypt:

The Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood is the most prominent opposition group in Egypt. Though it seems they were not the ones to organize the wave of protests, they have exploited them to voice their agenda: to form a state governed by Islamic law.


This Sunni movement was founded in 1928, partly in response to the British occupation in Egypt, and became one of the first and most successful movements advocating Islam as a political program. Over the years the group gathered many supporters and established branches throughout the world (Gaza-ruling Hamas party originated in the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.)

There was never proof of the group’s involvement in terror acts (although individual members of the Brotherhood were brought up on charges of terrorism). The group’s motto is: “Allah is our objective; the Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

The movement has been banned in Egypt since 1954 after being accused in the assassination attempt of President Gamal Abdel Nasser (a charge the Brotherhood has always denied). Still, the Brotherhood operates openly within limits that vary at the whim of the authorities.

Until last year, members of the movement running as independent candidates held one-fifth of the seats in parliament, but after loosing many seats in the 2010 elections, which were marred by serious fraud, the group boycotted the second round of elections and announced it would shift its political struggle to the streets.

The Brotherhood has huge influence on the Egyptian public. The group emerging as the ruling party in the post-Mubarak Egypt is perceived as a very possible scenario. Some fear the group could threaten U.S. interests on issues, including Arab-Israeli peace efforts, if they gain power.

El Baradei and the National Association for Change (NAC)

The National Association for Change is an ad-hoc umbrella organization of the Egyptian opposition groups of all political affiliations and religion. The goal of the group is to bring about political