“The Muslim Brotherhood nominated its chief strategist and financier Khairat el-Shater on Saturday as its candidate to become Egypt’s first president since Hosni Mubarak, breaking a pledge not to seek the top office and a monopoly on power,” reports the New York Times. “Because of the Brotherhood’s unrivaled grass-roots organization and popular appeal, Mr. Shater, 62, a multimillionaire business tycoon who was a political prisoner until just a year ago, immediately became a presidential front-runner. If he wins the June election, the Brotherhood, a previously outlawed Islamist group, would control the presidency, the Parliament and the committee writing the new constitution, moving toward a confrontation with Egypt’s military rulers over the country’s future. His candidacy is likely to unnerve the West and has already outraged Egyptian liberals, who wonder what other pledges of moderation the Brotherhood may abandon. The Brotherhood is also engaged in a standoff with the military over its calls to dissolve the military-led government, and the degree of civilian oversight of the military in the new constitution. The Brotherhood’s participation also turns the election into a referendum on the role of Islamist politics in post-Arab Spring governments that is sure to resonate across the region. Mr. Shater faces Islamist rivals to his left and right — one a more liberal former Brotherhood leader, the other an ultraconservative Salafi. Indeed, the Brotherhood may have entered the race in part because a win or near win by either rival Islamist would badly damage its authority as the primary voice of the Islamist movement in Egypt….An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to comment specifically on Mr. Shater but called the nomination a worrisome turn. ‘Obviously this is not good news,’ the official said. ‘The Muslim Brotherhood is no friend of Israel’s. They do not wish us well. The big question will be how pragmatic they will be once in power. It could go in either direction.'”
(photo: “The Muslim Brotherhood nominated its longtime strategist Khairat el-Shater in the Egyptian presidential election.”/Moises Saman for The New York Times)
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