Where do the Brothers go from here?

My latest column at al-Masri al-Youm is out, wondering what Egypt's Muslim Brothers will do now that they have no longer any presence in parliament. An excerpt:

These results are a challenge for the regime, in whose interest it was to maintain the illusion of gradual progress on political reform and plurality in Egyptian political life. This has, after all, been the message promoted by Gamal Mubarak and other NDP leaders since 2002, including the idea (borrowed from ex-President Anwar al-Sadat) that Egypt needs three strong parties: a centrist one (the NDP), a leftist one (presumably the Tagammu) and a rightist one (presumably the Wafd). The role that the Muslim Brotherhood played in this configuration was always ambiguous, since the regime has never wanted to concede to them the right to have a formal political role.

In practice, a different three-party configuration emerged, which included a hegemonic party (the NDP), an Islamist one (the Muslim Brotherhood) that supposedly represented a dangerous alternative but could easily be kept in check by repression, and a loose front of secular parties and individuals that could mostly be intimidated and controlled, in part because it shared the NDP’s fear of Islamists, and represented no credible alternative at all.

Read the rest here.