by Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- A recent reconciliation bid by Al- Azhar, Egypt's top Sunni Islamic institution, is unlikely to achieve an accord among conflicting parties in the country due to the Muslim Brotherhood's obstinacy, observers say.
A few days ago, Al-Azhar put forward the initiative aimed at dissolving the division between the army-backed interim government and the supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi affiliated with the Brotherhood.
The initiative, however, was declined by the Islamic group, which condemned Al-Azhar as a "partner" in the early July "coup."
Mohamed al-Zayyat, chairman of the National Center for Middle East Studies, expressed his belief that Al-Azhar's document represented "the last chance" for the Brotherhood to get the best out of the situation.
"Al-Azhar's bid is based on two previous initiatives by Morsi's affiliates, namely ex-prime minister Hesham Qandil and Islamist thinker Mohamed Selim al-Awwa," Zayyat told Xinhua.
Qandil's initiative includes releasing all Brotherhood members who had been arrested following Morsi's ouster, assigning a delegation to visit Morsi and holding a referendum on Morsi's ouster, while Awwa's one, which is more controversial, says that Morsi should be released and that he could mandate an interim authority to run the country until an early presidential election is held.
"Al-Azhar's initiative is a middle ground after the failure of international, regional and domestic efforts to mediate reconciliation," but the Brotherhood has ruined the chance by their rejection and stubbornness, Zayyat said.
He pointed out that the Brotherhood, despite being in the minority, is "counting on convincing the West that the division between Egyptians might lead to a civil war and that they are the stronger side of the political equation."
After the Brotherhood's explicit rejection of Al-Azhar's initiative, the Islamic institution deemed the group responsible for the consequences "before God and before the people."
Emad Awwad, a political science professor at Cairo University, agreed that Al-Azhar's initiative is unlikely to be accepted by the Brotherhood that rejects reconciliation in general. He also thinks that the initiative came too "late" in light of the complication of the situation.
"The initiative is not expected to bear any fruits because the main party, namely the Brotherhood, showed complete rejection," the professor told Xinhua.
He noted that Salafists also represent an important side in a future dialogue under Al-Azhar's initiative, yet he said they are "difficult to make any compromise" due to their insistence on certain articles related to Sharia (Islamic law) in the currently- suspended constitution.
For his part, Abdel-Moneim Saeed, a political analyst and board director at Al-Masry al-Youm newspaper, said that Al-Azhar's initiative is not likely to find its way with the Brotherhood because the latter has been against the institution for its support for Morsi's ouster.
"The Brotherhood has been against Al-Azhar for a long time also because Al-Azhar's moderate philosophy contradicts the Brotherhood 's extremist ideology," said Saeed, also ex-chief of both state- run Al-Ahram newspaper and Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
He told Xinhua that the Brotherhood has already made "a strategic decision to carry on with the confrontation" by the ongoing pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo or whatever will replace it in the future.