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Friday, January 28, 2011

Liberal: Don't Fear Muslim Brotherhood

Bruce Riedel at the Daily Beast writes that the United States should not fear the Muslim Brotherhood and that what happens in Egypt is beyond our control anyway. How a long time CIA officer fails to understand the long term goals of the Brotherhood is virtually inexplicable. The Brotherhood or 'Ikhwan' doesn't believe in nation states and seeks a return of the Islamic caliphate by resurrecting the Ottoman Empire.

Says Riedel:
Egyptians will decide the outcome, not Washington. We should not try to pick Egyptians' rulers. Every time we have done so, from Vietnam’s generals to Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, we have had buyer’s remorse. But our interests are very much involved so we have a great stake in the outcome. Understanding the Brotherhood is vital to understanding our options.

The Muslim Brethren was founded in 1928 by Shaykh Hassan al Banna as an Islamic alternative to weak secular nationalist parties that failed to secure Egypt’s freedom from British colonialism after World War I. Banna preached a fundamentalist Islamism and advocated the creation of an Islamic Egypt, but he was also open to importing techniques of political organization and propaganda from Europe that rapidly made the Brotherhood a fixture in Egyptian politics. Branches of the Brotherhood grew across the Arab world. By World War 2, it became more violent in its opposition to the British and the British-dominated monarchy, sponsoring assassinations and mass violence. After the army seized power in 1952, it briefly flirted with supporting Gamal Abdel Nasser’s government but then moved into opposition. Nasser ruthlessly suppressed it.
While he's right about Karzai, he's not looking at this scenario playing out like Iran did. He's apparently bought the lie that the Muslim Brotherhood is peaceful. The Brotherhood simply advocates using peaceful means until it achieves power. As for Karzai, whether he was well-intentioned when he started out is irrelevant; he was given a Constitution, endorsed by the United States that made Shariah the law of the land in Afghanistan, which makes the rest of the document worthless. Karzai was in a 'no win' situation when he took power.

Riedel is correct about the formation of the Brotherhood in 1928 but he omits an extremely important fact. al Banna didn't just want an Islamic Egypt but an Islamic Caliphate where there were no Muslim nations, just one 'Ummah.' Today, there are 57 Islamic nation states. The Brotherhood wants to see all of them under one form of rule. Riedel either doesn't get this or endorses it.

The west needs to look at what's going on in Egypt through the lens of history in Iran. An oppressed people under the Shah, rose up but replaced him with a theocratic regime that was far more dangerous. Now, they are even more oppressed. This is what is at risk in Egypt.

Read it all..... if you can.

h/t Hot Air

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