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Recognizing the Muslim Brotherhood as a Legitimate Player in Egyptian Politics was a Big Mistake

Tigrai Online August 21, 2013
By Tesfaye Habisso

Unfortunately, the German military did not move against Adolph Hitler when he became Chancellor of Germany in 1933. Had they done so, Europe and the United States would have been spared a world of woe. Had that happened, would the American government have tried to intervene at the time, insisting on a restoration of Hitler, who had been democratically elected by a plurality of the German people? Would we have insisted that our democratic creed required us to do so? These questions answer themselves. We would have been grateful to the German military for doing so. We should likewise have some appreciation for what the Egyptian military have done so to save its country and, by the way, preserve U.S. strategic interests in that area of the Middle East.” [Robert Reilly, Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, “Egypt’s Military: Doing What Germany’s [Military] Should Have Done in 1933”, August 16, 2013].

Recognizing the Muslim Brotherhood as a Legitimate Player in Egyptian Politics was a Big Mistake
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is an Islamist religious, political and social movement founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna and which soon spread to other Muslim countries, from North Africa to the Middle East and beyond

In the light of the above critical remarks by a seasoned foreign policy analyst who has previously served at  several important and high-level posts in different institutions in the US ---former Director of the VOA, Special Assistant to the President (1983-85), lecturer at the National Defense University, Senior Advisor for Information Strategy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (2002-06), Board Member of the Middle East Media Research Institute and a  Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, Robert Reilly--- the emollient political stance taken by the current American Administration, including President Barrack Hussain Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rhodam Clinton  and other top officials to  support the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate player in Egyptian politics and to impose this imperial policy on the Egyptian military that took control of state power in the wake of Hosni Mubarak’s  downfall in 2011 was pitiably ludicrous, suicidal  and a great political blunder in American as well as Egyptian history of the 21st century that will take many years to reverse and rectify its negative aftereffects and dire socio-economic and political consequences on Egyptian society as well as US strategic interests in the region.  As all Third World peoples, the majority of Egyptians clamored to taste the fruits of democracy, freedom and socio-economic justice and thus put their limbs and their lives on the line to oust the 38-year-long authoritarian rule of Hosni Mubarak in the January 2011 Egyptian popular uprisings and mass revolts and succeeded in removing Mubarak’s dictatorial regime but soon found themselves disillusioned when they saw that their hard-won political gains could not result in a democratic political order but snatched away by the Muslim Brotherhood as this anti-democratic, violent and extremist Islamic group won a plurality of votes in the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections to succeed Hosni Mubarak, dashing the desire and hope of many millions of pro-democracy activists who had paid a heavy sacrifice to unseat Hosni Mubarak’s long-entrenched authoritarian regime. Thus, the maiden democratic experiment in Egypt, sadly, went in the wrong direction and landed in the wrong hands: the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is an Islamist religious, political and social movement founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna and which soon spread to other Muslim countries, from North Africa to the Middle East and beyond, gradually evolving into the largest, best organized, and most disciplined political opposition force in Egypt. From its inception to date, the Muslim Brotherhood has pursued a strategy of militant Islam and violent extremism akin to Wahhabism [Salafism] that trained, groomed and fielded the Osama bin-Laden’s  of Saudi Arabia and the Taliban’s of Afghanistan to spread their hate-filled ideology through terrorism and blood-letting, “adopted Islam as the Solution, the Quran as their law and Jihad as their way with the ultimate end of establishing a Caliphate in Egypt to be governed under Sharia Law”; otherwise, “to die in the way of Allah as their greatest hope”. The group utilized all methods of violent acts and terrorist tactics, plots of assassination of political leaders and government overthrow to achieve its objectives, which led to a succession of ruling regime crackdowns on the Muslim Brotherhood in 1948, 1954, 1965 and thereafter [Wikipedia: Free Encyclopaedia].

 It was the Muslim Brotherhood which saw the assassination of Egypt’s Prime Minister, Mahumud Fahimi Nokrashi, in 1948, that led to the group’s dissolution and the killing of its founder, Al-Banna, in the same year. Again, it was the Muslim Brotherhood which attempted the assassination of President Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasser in 1954, leading to the abolition of the group and the imprisonment and punishment of thousands of its members in the following years.

 In 1970, Anwar Sadat became the president of Egypt and decided to bring on board the MB so that the group could play a constructive role in the politics and economy of Egypt as he realized the group was quite embedded in Egyptian society for a long, long period since its inception in 1928, particularly in the areas of grassroots level charitable activities benefitting the rural and urban poverty-stricken masses. Toward this end, Sadat gradually released many thousands of imprisoned MB members but soon became the enemy of the MB and other Islamist groups after signing a peace agreement, known as the Camp David Agreement, with Israel in 1979. This led to Sadat’s assassination by a violent Islamist group, calling itself Tanzim al-Jihad, allied to the Muslim Brotherhood, on October 6, 1981.

 The group’s membership grew in leaps and bounds after huge number of Islamist students joined it during Hosni Mubarak’s presidency and despite numerous mass arrests, police harassment, imprisonments, and an essentially closed political system during Mubarak’s reign, MB candidates were able to snatch large number of seats in several parliamentary elections in the 1980s (1982-2005). However, the MB was gradually pushed out of Egyptian politics and eventually banned from politics by Mubarak’s regime.

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Strangely, thanks to the current American government’s wrong-headed support of the Muslim Brotherhood and the super-power’s consequential pressure on the generals commanding the Egyptian military and the interim government led by Field Marshall  Mohamed HusseinTantawi in the wake of Hosni Mubarak’s downfall in 2011, this violent and extremist Islamic group, which blames day in, day out “the United States--- along with Israel and Ethiopia--- for supporting opposition to its project of Islamic revival” [Hassan Mneimeh, “Why Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, and its Opponents Denounce the United States”, July 03, 2013], was allowed to become a legitimate political player in Egypt and to participate in the pro-democracy elections following the popular revolts and uprisings that forced Hosni Mubarak to resign from his presidency and face the wheels of justice for his role in the alleged massacre of over 846 Egyptian protesters in the streets of Cairo and other cities. Hosni Mubarak, a long time American ally and a notorious dictator,  was instantly abandoned by his age-long mentors and financiers, the American Administration, and the latter, disregarding its long pursued Cold War era strategy --the so-called Kirkpatrick Doctrine (“the lesser of two evils principle”)—sadly and strangely chose to side with the “greater evil” [Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood], instead of standing on the side of “the lesser evil” [the pro-democracy movement leaders and the Egyptian military who have already agreed upon a roadmap toward a democratic transition for the first time in Egypt in the immediate future].

Unfortunately, the US government supported the self-declared enemy of the US, Israel and Ethiopia, Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood and catapulted him to the long-awaited helm of state power of Egypt  on June 24, 2012 after 85 years of the group’s creation and its subsequent persistent struggle for state power for over eight decades, enabling this totalitarian Islamist demagogue to : introduce a constitution that enshrined Islamic law in political life, grant himself unlimited powers to pass numerous laws without judicial review, oversee a crackdown on civil rights, persecution of Christians, women and other minorities, and attempt to silence dissenters like comedian Bassem Youssef, and, in general, wreak immense havoc upon the Egyptian society, and further threaten the strategic interests of the US itself. Just a year later, more than 30 million Egyptians gathered again in Tahrir Square and demanded the ouster of Mohammed Mursi.  A few days later, on July 03, 2013,the Egyptian military ousted Mursi and kept him under house arrest, suspended the constitution, disbanded the parliament and detained senior leaders of the MB, and closed down the MB’s media venues and channels; it installed an interim civilian government, led by the former supreme court justice Adli Mansour. Today, the beginning of the end of the MB and other Islamist parties as legitimate political forces in Egyptian politics is clearly in sight. That is the only correct direction that the pro-democracy movements of Egypt must adopt and pursue; there is no guarantee for democracy to take root in Egypt. However much Egyptians may attempt to tame the various extremist and violent Islamist groups circulating in the national arena and recognize them as legitimate players, the ideology of these dogmatic and fundamentalist groups is detrimentally against all values of democracy, equality, minority rights, peaceful co-existence, compromise and mutual cooperation as well as recognition and thus these noble objectives cannot be achieved by them. The only recourse for democracy loving Egyptians  is to completely ban these extremist and violent groups from Egyptian politics. If these groups consider themselves as the ‘true messengers of God or Allah’, let them limit themselves in that blessed and heavenly mission and not mess up their country’s secular politics, democracy or freedom?

Whatever the case, for the here-to-fore unpardonable and politically incorrect stance and folly of accommodating the MB in Egyptian politics, the whole Egyptian society is presently hurled into self-destruction and great bloodshed, immense grief and havoc, and endless turmoil and chaos that seem to persist for years and decades to come. So far, many thousands of Egyptians have been killed by the security forces and also by the terrorists supporting the MB, and thousands upon thousands of pro-Mursi supporters have been injured, incarcerated, and tortured by the interim Egyptian government of Adli Mansour for not backing down from their violent protests as well as their persistent demands for the reinstatement of the deposed leader, Mohammed Mursi, back to his office. Mohammed Mursi  still remains under house arrest in an unknown location and most of  the MB’s religious and political leaders are being detained and the remaining ones at large hiding from the authorities.

Presently, the US Administration is said to be mulling the reduction or even total cancellation of military aid to the Egyptian military due to the latter’s heavy-handed crackdown on the pro-Mursi protestors and leaders and members of the Muslim Brotherhood.  The European Union is also reviewing its hitherto aid packages and bilateral diplomatic relations with Egypt. These Western-led punitive measures on the Egyptian interim government guided by the military are pushing the latter to rely more and more on generous aid coming from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This new development is bound to negatively affect the US-EU relations with Egypt fundamentally in the years to come. Furthermore, the US’s /EU’s strategic interests  in the region as well as the geo-politics of the whole Arab region is irreparably damaged due to the current American government’s  and EU’s incomprehensible position on militant and violent political Islam and its leaders, the Muslim Brotherhood and President-elect Mohammed Mursi.

Finally, though what is done cannot be undone, the recognition of the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate player in Egyptian politics in 2012 was a grave blunder. The scars of this terrible decision will undoubtedly take a long, long time to heal from the hearts and minds of all Egyptians, pro-democracy as well as pro-Islamic activists.

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