Nine branches of Ahmed Shafiq’s campaign headquarters have been torched in the violence spreading across Egypt ahead of the second round of its presidential elections June 16-17.
Egypt and the Arab world were stunned when this former air force commander, prime minister and Mubarak regime veteran made it to second place in the first round, only 250,000 votes behind the Muslim Brotherhood’s contender Mohammed Morsi.
The Brotherhood was the first to recover and turn to violence. Day by day, its gangs of hooligans set fire to Shafiq’s offices, break up his campaign rallies and attack and burn the homes of his supporters and their families, mainly in small towns and rural areas.
Brotherhood gangs turn up with loudspeaker cars on the fringes of pro-Shafiq rallies. They shout slogans calling for the contender to be hanged after the ousted ruler Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for lesser crimes.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s campaign violence has a sinister side which is less visible.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources report that local gangs of thugs are linking up into a nationwide organization, for which the Brotherhood is setting up regional headquarters.
In Cairo this week, a central headquarters began coordinating their activities with a fleet of vehicles ferrying squads between districts for creating mayhem.
Secularist Shafiq is getting Saudi funding
These gangs are acquiring hierarchical structures on the lines of the embryonic paramilitary militias which surfaced in the early years of Iran’s Shiite revolution in the late 1970s and early 1980s and evolved into Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Their violence is engendered additionally by the suspicion that Ahmed Shafiq is receiving substantial funds from foreign sources.
In the DEBKA-Net-Weekly 543 of June 1 report on the Egyptian elections (“The Two Presidential Contenders are Tensed for Saudi and US Input”), we estimated that the secular presidential contender had two possible sources of funds: Saudi Arabia or the US.
According to information reaching our Cairo sources, he has won financial backing from Saudi sources. This has made it possible for him to reactivate Mubarak’s defunct National Democratic Party (NDP) and field its 2.5 million activists for his campaign, offering them their last chance to restore a Mubarak adherent to power and their place in the sun.
Shafiq’s election would give back to the NDP activists their livelihood and status after eighteen months in the desert. Since their leader’s downfall in February 2011, many of them and their families have gone hungry.
The powerful judiciary could disqualify the Islamist-ruled parliament
The Brotherhood feels threatened too by the Egyptian judiciary.
Wednesday, June 6, an Egyptian judicial body, the Supreme Constitutional Court, which is headed by a Mubarak-era appointee, Farouk Soltan, recommended the repeal of two critical laws.
The law passed by the Islamist-dominated parliament in April would have barred senior Mubarak-era officials from running for president. The new Law of Political Isolation was judged unconstitutional because it punishes the individual on the basis of the public office he held, and not for corrupt practices.
The electoral laws under which parliament was elected may also be thrown out and the legislature required to dissolve.
The constitutional court’s final rulings are to be handed down on June 14, just two days before the presidential run-off election.
They are critical not just for the outcome of the election but for Egypt ‘s difficult transition from 60 years under a military-backed autocracy.
Soltan also heads the electoral committee overseeing the presidential elections.
The decision to release the constitutional court’s rulings just two days before the vote suggests to the Brotherhood that the transitional military rulers are preparing a death-blow for its ascent to power by obtaining the dissolution of the parliament in which, along with its Salafi allies, the Brotherhood gained a 75 percent majority. This is more than an impression as the Brotherhood appears to be pulling ahead.
If this conspiracy is confirmed, the Muslim Brotherhood can be expected to turn the violence against Shafiq into a veritable bloodbath that will drown the presidential election.
Just before closing this issue, DEBKA-Net-Weekly received the results of an internal poll conducted by the White House in Washington to assess the election results. It was set back by discovering that Morsi was the likely winner by a 70 percent landslide against Shafiq’s 30 percent.