January 19, 2012

US should not engage jihadist Muslim Brotherhood

It did not require the gift of prophecy to foresee that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt would make great strides in the wake of the Hosni Mubarak regime.


We opposed U.S. efforts last year to push the regime off the stage and replace it with whatever emerged in new elections. Not because we are opposed to democracy; quite the contrary. In a society like Egypt that has known only autocracy and Islamism, we fully expected that early elections would see anti-democratic forces like the Muslim Brotherhood grow and, in time, gain power.


Unfortunately, the Obama Administration embarked on policies that have helped bring about this result. Already in June 2009, Obama invited the parliamentary bloc of the Brotherhood, then a banned party, to attend his Cairo speech. Worse, Obama is now engaging and legitimizing the Brotherhood. He should cease doing so.


Why? The Brotherhood’s nature and history are not secrets. It was founded in 1928 by Hassan Al-Banna. Before and during World War II, it collaborated with Nazi Germany. Its leading intellectual figure, Sayyid Qutb, is the inspiration for Al- Qaida and other Islamist terrorist movements. The Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood, Hamas, is a blood-soaked terrorist organization which calls in its Charter for the destruction of Israel and the worldwide murder of Jews.


The Muslim Brotherhood platform, leaked in August 2007, calls for jihad, states that “Islam is the official state religion and Islamic Shariah is the main source for legislation.” It stipulates that the president and legislative branch will be advised by clerics, who must approve decisions and that non-Muslims will be barred from the presidency, which is also held to be unsuitable for women.


As Jayshree Bajoria of the Council on Foreign Relations has written, “Establishing an Islamic state based on Shariah is at the center of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology, both in Egypt and among the group’s many offshoots abroad.” Shadi Hamid, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center, has described it as “the mother of all Islamist movements.”


Yet, absurdly, Obama’s National Intelligence director, James Clapper said that the group is “largely secular” and not particularly extreme while another Obama adviser, Bruce Riedel, argued that America “should not be afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood.”


In the first round of Egyptian elections in December, the Brotherhood, operating as the Freedom & Justice Party (FJP) captured 37 percent of the vote, while other Islamists attracted a further 25% – an Islamist majority. Upcoming rounds of votes look likely to confirm or augment this strong Islamist showing.


All of which increases the likelihood of the new eventual Egyptian government abrogating the 1979 Egyptian/Israeli treaty. In recent weeks, the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Rashad al-Bayoumi said that regarding the peace treaty that, “To me, it isn’t binding at all … On no condition will we recognize Israel. It is an enemy entity.”


Last year, too, Bayoumi emphasized the objective of abrogating the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Also last year, the Brotherhood leader, Muhammad Badi’, spoke enthusiastically of jihad and called for a state based on Islamic law. He also spoke optimistically about the U.S. heading for a collapse.


In recent days, Egyptian presidential candidate Hazem Sallah Abu Ismail stated, “If not for the Gulf of Aqaba [leading to the Red Sea, Israel’s sole southern waterway excluding the Suez Canal], the Jews would suffocate and die … If [Egyptian] civilians were allowed to be present in that area, the Israeli economy would die on the spot.”


Why is the U.S., which has given Egypt more than $40 billion over 30 years in support of the peace treaty, legitimizing and engaging a jihadist, misogynist movement intent on consigning it to the ash heap?


Ahead of the December elections, the Brotherhood struck from its English website bylaws calling for “establishing the Islamic state,” or caliphate. And after Osama bin Laden was killed, it issued praise in English, but also statements in Arabic decrying his “martyrdom” and condemning his “assassination.”


Yet, the Obama Administration pretends that gentle words in English confirm its moderate, democratic credentials.


Even when queried regarding Bayoumi’s Arabic statement regarding the Brotherhood’s intention to scrap the peace treaty, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland blandly responded, “I would say that it [sic] is one member of the MB. We have had other assurances from the party with regard to their commitment not only to universal human rights, but to the international obligations that the Government of Egypt has undertaken.”


Blindness to extremism is not a viable policy. It is inexcusable to claim extremists are moderates while assisting them into taking power. Yet Obama is doing just that.


Morton A. Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America.