The Islamist imperative of the revolution is to purge heresy and secularism, to restore true Islam, but there has never been any consensus on what true Islam is. Even Mohammed was forced to recant some of his prophecies attributing them to “Satan” and, not long after his death, Islam began to fall apart into quarreling factions who gave rise to the Sunnis and the Shiites.
Muslims can’t agree on what Islam is. What they can agree on is that most other forms of Islam are heresy and, depending on the severity of the heresy, their practitioners may be freely killed. Islamic reform movements in their revolutionary purity have treated conventional Muslims as less pure for visiting shrines, using good luck charms or watching soccer. And every Islamic reform movement has opened the door for a new group that thinks they are a bunch of liberal heretics.
“Big fleas have little fleas, Upon their backs to bite ’em, And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so, ad infinitum.” Islamic revolutions, like their secular counterparts, have countless smaller fleas who take Islam even more seriously and are even more determined to turn society into an exact ideal replica of 7th Century Arabia.
The Muslim Brotherhood might have been a flea on Egypt’s back, but the Salafis are a flea on its back, and there are fleas on the backs of the Salafis. Revolutions solve these problems with an extended round of purges that ends when no one believes in anything anymore. The French Revolution drowned itself in its own blood, and the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communist Party did likewise. By the time Mao and Stalin’s last butchers were shown the door, Communism was no longer a revolutionary idea, it was just a rotting structure that would take several generations to dismantle.
For the Islamists the challenge is to firmly draw a line to their right and they cannot do that because Mohammed is on the other side of that line. Blaming Israel and “foreign elements” is a convenient way to avoid dealing with the logical consequences of their own ideology. It is also a demonstration of why ideological revolutions never prosper, but decay into paranoid tyrannies that are too afraid to loosen their grip on power because that there is no reason why what they did to the former rulers cannot also be done to them.
No matter how pure an Islamic party may claim to be, there are always newcomers who are even purer and more incorruptible. Every Jihadist gang can point to “extremists” who are too far over the line. And those extremists can point to their own extremists. And so on ad infinitum until all the fleas drinking blood are drowning in each other’s blood.
Egypt has been the true heartland of the Islamic revolution because the foreign influences have given its “intellectuals” practical ideas that the Gulf clans aren’t capable of. The Muslim Brotherhood’s success has come from borrowing the ideas and tactics of the National Socialists and Communists. But that just makes them into a more foreign element than the purer Salafis and, in a game where victory comes to those who are willing to use violence in the name of the latest Islamic Revolution, what the Brotherhood’s Arab Spring victories have truly brought it is a prominent place in an Islamic civil war.
The struggle over Syria is escalating and may well explode in a regional Sunni-Shiite civil war. Their only hope of averting this is another round of NATO intervention which exposes once again just how dependent the Muslim Brotherhood is on its Western enablers who have had to help it take power politically and militarily. But while the West plays Germany to the Brotherhood’s Bolsheviks, whether the Brotherhood’s Islamic Revolution will be able to take hold now depends less on its ability to manipulate a gullible leftist media and political establishment in the Eurosphere and more on being able to control the violence inherent in its own ideology.
The Muslim Brotherhood has two choices: it can either try to control the violence or direct it. Like the Saudis, it is likely to make the second choice. The Brotherhood is a terrorist group and organizing attacks through proxies is second nature to it. Iran was never able to let go of its terrorist habits, even when it would have been in its own best interests to stop. The Brotherhood isn’t likely to be able to stop either. Its leaders likely imagine that the Sinai violence will allow them to play a triple game, seizing the Sinai, suppressing the opposition and keeping the Jihadi gangs pointed in Israel’s direction.