February 6th, 2011

Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian Islamic Jihad heart the democracy movement

Does this sound like the statement of a group with little clout and few followers? [emphasis mine]:

Egypt’s largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, said it would begin talks Sunday with the government to try to end the country’s political crisis but made clear it would insist on the immediate ouster of longtime authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak…

The Brotherhood said in a statement that its representatives would meet with Vice President Omar Suleiman to press its “legitimate and just demands.” Suleiman has accused the Brotherhood, businessmen and foreigners he did not identify as being behind a wave of looting and arson that swept much of the country last weekend after security forces inexplicably pulled out from the streets…

Mubarak, Egypt’s iron-fisted ruler of nearly 30 years, is known to have little or no tolerance for Islamist groups and the decision to open talks with the Brotherhood is a tacit recognition by his regime of their key role in the ongoing protests as well as their wide popular base

And do you trust these promises of the MB?:

The Brotherhood aims to create an Islamic state in Egypt, but insists that it would not force women to cover up in public in line with Islam’s teachings and would not rescind Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

Ah, but:

A political leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Thursday called on any government that replaces Hosni Mubarak’s regime to withdraw from the 32-year-old peace treaty with Israel.

Here’s background about the MB and its activities in Europe.

And here’s some MB and Egyptian history:

In November 1948 police seized an automobile containing the documents and plans of what is thought to be the Brotherhood’s `secret apparatus` with names of its members. The seizure was preceded by an assortment of bombings and assassination attempts by the apparatus. Subsequently 32 of its leaders were arrested and its offices raided. The next month the Egyptian Prime Minister of Egypt, Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi, ordered the dissolution of the Brotherhood.

On December 28, 1948 Egypt’s prime minister was assassinated by Brotherhood member and veterinary student Abdel Meguid Ahmed Hassan, in what is thought to have been retaliation for the government crackdown…

In 1952 members of the Muslim Brotherhood are accused of taking part in arson that destroyed some “750 buildings” in downtown Cairo — mainly night clubs, theatres, hotels, and restaurants frequented by British and other foreigners — “that marked the end of the liberal, progressive, cosmopolitan” Egypt…

After the attempted assassination of Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasser, in 1954, a member of the secret apparatus was accused by the authorities of being the perpetrator of the attempt. Nasser then abolished the Brotherhood and imprisoned and punished thousands of its members…

Despite mass arrests, police harassment and an essentially closed political system, Brotherhood candidates have made strong showings in several parliamentary elections. In the past decade, the Brotherhood has made repeated calls for a more democratic political system, and in 2005 it participated in pro-democracy demonstrations with the Kifaya movement.

The MB is now the largest opposition bloc in Egypt. It is sometimes stated that they assassinated Sadat, but as best I can tell, he was killed by Egyptian Islamic Jihad, an offshoot descendant group that is more upfront about advocating violence and is now joined as part of worldwide al Qaeda. EIJ is headed by a familiar name, al Sawahiri, Osama’s Egyptian buddy and co-mastermind of 9/11.

What does EIJ think of today’s democracy movement in Egypt? Loves it:

Ayman al Zawahiri’s top deputy, Thirwat Salah Shehata, has released a statement praising the Egyptian people and calling for President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster.

Shehata is a longtime member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), a core part of al Qaeda, and has served Zawahiri since the 1980s. In the statement, which was released on jihadist message boards known to carry al Qaeda propaganda, Shehata calls on the Egyptian people to “remain steadfast” and refuse to settle for economic concessions from Mubarak’s regime.

“Indeed, the Pharaoh and his rotten party must depart,” Shehata says.

There is no evidence that the EIJ has played any role in Egypt’s turmoil. In fact, Shehata laments his organization’s inability to be “on the front lines sharing this honor.” The EIJ was “forced to leave the country after the regime’s war against us,” Shehata says, “and we ended up participating with the mujahedin on other fronts.”

According to Asharq Al-Awsat, a Saudi publication, an anonymous source close to the EIJ said that Shehata’s “statement was issued from Tehran where Shehata is currently residing.” Shehata and other top EIJ operatives received shelter in Iran after the Sept. 11 attacks.

There’s more, much more, in the article. But the part I’m quoting makes it clear how closely related all the world jihadist movements are, and what a golden opportunity they see in the Egyptian pro-democracy movement.

It is almost a certainty that, were the Islamicists to gain control of the Muslim world as they wish, they would jockey for position and fight among themselves. Some would adhere to Sunni and some Shi’ite Islam. Some would be more violent and some less.

But anyone who thinks they’re not all violent, and not all bent on Islamicist control of each country in the region, is misunderstanding their philosophy, motivations, and goals. These are not democrats, neither with a small “d” nor a large one. The mullahs of Iran are well aware of that, and have not been offering them shelter just out of the goodness of their hearts.

It’s not that the Egyptian demonstrators are supporters, either, although some of them undoubtedly are. It’s that pro-democracy movements are easy to co-opt in a country with no real tradition of liberal democracy, no cultural characteristics that would allow it to flourish, and where secular opposition parties have been thwarted and persecuted for decades. As in Iran before it, the Islamicists might just be the strongest game in town right now.

20 Responses to “Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian Islamic Jihad heart the democracy movement”

  1. Parker Says:

    I trust the MB to turn Egypt into a sharia state, suppress women, stone apostates, slaughter the Copts, attempt (succeed?) to close the Suez Canal, and declare war on Israel if they gain control of the state/army.

    “Mistaking liberty for unchained license, they are delivered by their revolutions into the hands of seducers who will only aggravate their chains.”

    — Rousseau

  2. Bob From Virginia Says:

    Bye bye Egypt.

    How odd that the masses want material benefits and freedom while undermining the very things necessary for their achievement.

    At least Obama’s outreach to the Moslem world is showing results.

  3. Mr. Frank Says:

    Letting the MB into the government reminds me of the fable of the scorpion and the crocodile. Muslims can’t help themselves. Violence is what they do. I’ve often wondered if their attraction to explosives doesn’t reveal some kind of deep seated inferiority which requires a dramatic show of power to ease the pain.

  4. Parker Says:

    Neo-neocon says,

    “… were Islamists to gain control of the Muslim world as they wish, they would jockey for control and fight amongst themselves.”

    That is precisely why I was in favor of taking down Saddam but not in favor of ‘nation building’ in Iraq. I thought the smart thing to do was to allow the Iranians to rush to the void which would have brought the radical sunni arabs (and possibly the Pakistanis) into the fray to oppose the ayatollahs. Radical Muslims fighting tooth and nail with radical Muslims; oh, what a wonderful world that would be.

    People who know more than me ring their hands about oil. They worry about disrupting the supply or they screech about ‘going to war for oil’. It seems to me all the oil producing states in the Middle East have is oil. They have to sell it to the rest of us or they don’t eat and they don’t buy arms. Let them fight each other, sell us oil, and in turn we sell them guns and bullets to to assist them in killing each other. Cynical, yes. Callous, yes. If we could help that happen, beneficial yes.

  5. Tom Says:

    Gosh, what a surprise. Who in the MSM woulda thunk it?
    Pinochet saved Chile, and did anyone outside Chile thank him? Perhaps Suleiman can be another Pinochet, Might have to waste a few, though.

  6. expat Says:

    Here is an article about Greely, the Colorado town that turned Qutb into such a radical.

    http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_17306551

    I am so sick of playing scapegoat for these dysfunctional people. They are the ones who worship strongmen over character. Yet they blame us for talking with their strongmen and violating our own principles. The ball is in their court as far as I’m concerned. They need to give us someone else to talk to who isn’t out to destroy us. I’m really sorry that Qutb was turned off by I Remember Mama and by lingerie ads, but he was the one with the problem, not Greely. Bernard Lewis has said that the Arab world has to do something about the status of women in order to change. The real problem is that the status of its men rests on such a primitive basis. The young protesters say they want more freedom, but freedom requires a bit of self questioning and accepting responsibilty. Are they ready for that?

  7. Parker Says:

    “I’m really sorry that Qutb was turned off by I Remember Mama and by lingerie ads…”

    expat,

    Arabs (and most Moslems) loathe female puberty. They fear the clitoris to put it plainly. The very concept that women have a libido makes them gnash their teeth. The problem is not that they are primitive, my Shawnee ancestors several generations ago were very primitive, the problem is that their culture promotes misogyny as an ideal. If only they treated women as well as they treat their camels it would be a great leap forward.

    “Are they ready for that?”

    NOPE!

  8. Oldflyer Says:

    I detect a little wishful thinking if anyone believes that it would work out to let the Muslim factions fight it out among themselves.

    Maybe over the corpse of Israel. If we care.

    I am no expert; but I cannot help but notice Shiite Iranian support for Hamas. I note that the Hezbollah Shiites, supported by Iran, have their fingers on the throat of Lebanon. Lebanon was not Shiite, but had a strong secular element at one time, with a lean toward the Sunni.

    In Iraq, the Shiites outnumber the Sunnis by a wide margin. With Iranian support would have had no trouble establishing a Shiite Theocracy once the Batthists were overthrown, if we had not been there. I sort of expect that the Sunnis would have gravitated to Syria, and maybe tried to break western Iraq off. The Kurds would have been up the proverbial creek. The Iranian supported Shiites would have controlled the Southern oil fields and the ports through which it would ship. It is possible that Syria would have controlled the Northern fields–but that is admittedly problematical.

    No, the Muslim factions may be antagonistic to each other, but they certainly have no problem joining forces against the West, and against Israel.

  9. Mr. Frank Says:

    There’s that honor and inferiority thing again — “The white man in Europe or America is our number-one enemy. . . . We are endowing our children with amazement and respect for the master who tramples our honor and enslaves us. Let us instead plant the seeds of hatred, disgust, and revenge in the souls of these children.”

  10. Parker Says:

    Oldflyer,

    If you read this, please stay with me, I’ll try to keep it short…..

    Iran supports Hamas simply because Hamas wants to destroy Israel and Iran is willing to stir up trouble and gain influence wherever it can. However, I contend that Iraq was a perfect place (and remains so to this day) to bring about a sunni vs. shite confrontation once we removed Saddam’s regime.

    The Iran-Iraq border was already a sunni vs. shite fault line in the Islamic world before we ever put boots on the ground. The Iraq-Iran war resulted in somewhere of around 600,000+ KIA and an unknown number wounded, plus the waste of much treasure on the part of both nations. As a matter of national security we should have supplied arms to both sides and kept that confrontation going for as long as we could.

    Lebanon is another country where there are extreme tensions between the sunni & the shite factions of Islam. About 20% of the population is sunni and about 20% is shite. Various Christian sects make up about 70% of the population, with a fierce Druze and largely pro-western a minority of around 5%. All are antagonistic to each other. Islamists have managed to turn a once prosperous and neutral towards Israel nation into a ethnic/religious hell hole. I contend Lebanon is another area to be exploited.

    I’m merely an armchair strategist, but the potential to set our enemies at each other seems apparent to me. Isn’t it worth the effort to do so? Isn’t in a better scenario than our sons, daughters, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews fighting in places like Afghanistan & Iraq? BTW, I have 1 son, 1 second cousin [wounded], and 1 niece who have served in Iraq. Thankfully they are back home, but they will never get back what they lost in Iraq. I have 1 second cousin currently in Afghanistan and his parents & the entire extended family want him out because we know there is no victory in that stone age land!

    “If you know your enemies and yourself, you can win a hundred victories. If you know only yourself, you may win or you may lose. If you know not yourself nor your enemies you will always be in peril.” — Sun Tzu

    That is from memory, a paraphrasing of Sun Tzu’s wisdom, but wisdom it is.

  11. InTheory Says:

    This Sun Tzu quote is probably more to the point:

    “There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.”

  12. Parker Says:

    “There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged war.”

    Thanks InTheory…. an appropriate quote.

    We’ve been in Afghanistan for 10 years and Iraq for 8, and what have we gained? Afghanistan remains in turmoil while the Taliban crosses over from sanctuary in Pakistan to fight at their convenience. Muqtada al-Sadr is now a member of the ruling class in Iraq. Madness and hubris! In concrete terms what we have gained is thousands of sons and daughters dead, many more wounded, tens of thousands who will carry a burden from that experience for the rest of their lives, and hundreds of billions spent on battle fields where we have achieved a temporary reprieve at best.

    Its time to try another strategy as far as I’m concerned.

  13. ziontruth Says:

    expat,

    If the America of 1949, with long skirts all around and keeping it till after the wedding ceremony, could raise Qutb’s hackles, then the problem wasn’t with Greeley. For comparison, Jewish Law says women have an obligation of covering up (which makes them look far more like the American women of 1949 than the potato-sacked women of Islam), but beyond that, if a woman dresses like she should and a man still looks at her in lust, the sin is his, not hers. Women can only do so much by themselves.

    The fact of the matter is, Qutb saw in Greeley exactly what he wanted to see; what he sought out, his idea of the West, from the moment he boarded that ship out of Egypt. He had an image of how things were, and he found confirmation just everywhere he looked.

    In that, he was the quintessential Muslim.

  14. daniel Says:

    Do we trust the MB or not? That is NOT the question.

    The question needs to be: Do we trust the Egyptian people to chart a course for their own self government?

    If the answer to that is no, then we need to really examine ourselves as individuals and as a collective group called a nation. How many of the doomsayers out there even know an Egyptian living in Egypt today? How many muslims or copts have they conversed with to make this assessment? How long have they lived in Egypt themselves?

    If the answer is yes, then we need to offer assistance and support and, above all, education to the people so that they understand how real democracies work and how their own voices (not ours) can be heard. Let them make their own choices whether they be good or bad.

    30 years ago, I had no problems with enslaving an entire nation to a brutal, ruthless dictator for the sake of securing our national interests. Now that I’m older, I can’t justify that attitude any longer because the situation has simply not changed in all of those 30 years. I happen to be a believer in democracy and the abilities of empowered citizens to desire and strive for peaceful coexistence with their neighbors. The democracy thing has been difficult for us, and it will be difficult for them, and may not even be successful for either of us. But I’ll take it any day over the rule of a tyrant.

    If it’s good enough for us, it’s good enough for them.

  15. expat Says:

    daniel,

    I agree that educating the people is important. One of the problems I have with the protesters in Egypt is that they don’t seem to be reaching out to educate the large part of the population than can’t read or use the internet. I worry that even the best reforms can be undermined if they seem to come from another privileged group, as I’m sure it will be portrayed by imams and the MB throughout Egypt. Many of the problems occurring now in Turkey result from the failure of the urban upper and middle classes to engage with the Anatolian villagers. The latter have now immigrated to the cities and want to establish their culture there. I think there are some parallels to our own Tea Party pushback against the elites. The big difference is that our Tea Partiers can read and are even encouraged by Glenn Beck to do so.

    ziontruth,

    The question is how can we get some of the Muslim men to start questioning their own assumptions. It’s the old shame/guilt dilemma, and it’s a very tough nut to crack.

  16. Sergey Says:

    I know only 2 successful revolutions in history which led to expected results: Glorious Revolution in England of 1688 and American Revolution. Neither was attempted by unemployed youth, but by quite wealthy, wise and mature Anglo-Saxon gentelmen of high status in society. All others were terrible disasters.

  17. Sergey Says:

    Parker, Afganistan has been in a state of prolonged warfare since 1980. Iraq was in the same state since Suddam came to power. Only 2 last years it can be called relatively peaceful.

  18. Sergey Says:

    The problem with Islam is not that these countries can directly harm the West by their armies. No, they can not, so their infighting in no way helpful for security of the West. The problem is terrorism, which benefits greatly from any turmoil in this region, allowing all warring parties to train terrorists and channel weapons to terrorists. Shia/Sunny clashes in Iraq in no way made US soldiers safer, and all major terrorist attacks (Khartum, 9/11) happened before any US direct involvment in conflicts in ME.

  19. Parker Says:

    Sergey,

    I agree with your proposition that Islamic terrorism is the trouble, that is rather obvious. However, it seems apparent to me (though I have been known to be wrong before) that the governments in many Islamic states use the jihadists to augment their own agendas. Why else has the House of Saud funded extremist groups? Why does Iran fund Hamas and Hezbollah? Why have various governments in the region given safe haven to jihadi organizations?

    I contend that there has been, there is now, and there will be collusion between Islamic governments and jihadi groups until those governments are made to realize the cost of collusion is not bearable.

  20. Parker Says:

    Sergey says,

    “Afghanistan has been in a state of prolonged warfare since 1980.”

    True. And if we never had a reason to put boots on the ground in the region and they remained at war with one another from now to the next millenium, “frankly my dear I don’t give a damn”. However, 9/11/01 forced our hand.

    You won’t find me defending the Carter/Reagan policy of assisting the mujahideen to defeat the Soviets. IMO, we should have given the mujahideen just enough arms to keep them fighting, not enough to force out the Soviets. Why not seek to bleed both sides dry to the maximum extent possible in such circumstances?

    I don’t contend that the Iraq-Iran war of the early 1980s made today’s American soldiers on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan safer. Instead, I contend that there was a wasted opportunity, we should have supplied both sides with war materials to keep both sides fighting and dying for as long as possible.

    IMO, we lack a ruthlessness that is necessary to prevail against 10+ million people who believe they are on a mission from god. Nothing is more dangerous than people who believe they are on a mission from god. Until we show them that we really are the Great Satan of their rhetoric, they will prevail.

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