Brotherhood’s future in the region looks bleak

Brotherhood’s future in the region looks bleak

Brotherhood’s future in the region looks bleak
WHAT a difference a month makes! The biggest gainers from the Arab Spring were Islamist parties dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. Tunisians, Libyans and Egyptians were broadly sympathetic to their decades-long struggle to join the political mainstream and were, to varying degrees, prepared to give them the opportunity to govern. Their opponents say they had their chance and they blew it. Simmering discontent came to a head in all three countries on June 30, 2012 when 33 million Egyptians called upon their military to rescue them from a government that failed to live up to its promises. That call was heeded on June 3 — and is now being echoed in Libya and Tunisia.
Residents of Tripoli and Benghazi have been in the streets asking for their army to overturn the government, labeled by one speaker as “corrupt.” Protesters in the capital stormed the headquarters of the Justice and Construction Party and the National Forces Alliance. A nationwide strike has been called. Last week, a rocket-propelled grenade hit a luxury hotel in Tripoli where the Prime Minister is believed to own an apartment.
In Tunis, the assassination of Mohammed Brahmi, a popular liberal politician and member of the Assembly, incensed opposition supporters who believe he was murdered by Islamist extremists. An open-ended peaceful sit-in outside the National Constituent Assembly building was met with teargas and beatings, according to Human Rights Watch. Again, chants appealing to the military to overthrow the Islamist-led government were heard. On Saturday, the southern town of Sidi Bouzid witnessed violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces. Opposition parties are demanding the government’s resignation. The General Union of Tunisian Labor was scheduled to meet yesterday (Monday) “to decide the fate of the country.” Unlike, Egypt’s Muhammad Mursi who eschewed compromise in the face of tens of millions demanding his exit, Tunisia’s ruling Ennahda Party tries to defuse the crisis by negotiating a power-sharing deal.
The Muslim Brotherhood has also lost any modicum of ground within Gulf states. Brotherhood independents boycotted the recent general elections in Kuwait that resulted in gains for liberals and tribes with Shiites losing half their seats. In Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, the Muslim Brotherhood is a banned organization. The UAE has arrested Islamists with Muslim Brotherhood affiliations for conspiring to overthrow the government. Dubai’s outspoken Police Chief Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim has declared open war on the Brotherhood which he describes as “a grave danger to Gulf security.” “The Muslim Brotherhood has proven that they are connected to Al-Qaeda, evident from the appearance of Al-Qaeda banners and flags in new clips showing Muslim Brotherhood-led demonstrations in Cairo,” he said earlier this month.
He’s right! Almost every senior leader of Al-Qaeda was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood at one time, including Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Saif Al-Adel and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, while Mohamed Atef was a member of the Brotherhood offshoot, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Over the decades the Brotherhood has worked to construct a peaceful veneer and thanks to its well-oiled PR department, headed by the youthful and charismatic Gehad Al-Haddad, has attracted influential allies in Washington and the EU.
A few days ago, I was astounded by a soundless video, taken prior to last year’s presidential election in Egypt, which amounts to an American-Muslim Brotherhood love fest. Former US President Jimmy Carter looked like he’d just won the lottery as he handed Muhammad Mursi a sheet of paper as the MB’s Supreme Guide and other MB heads looked on. What was written on that paper isn’t known but it certainly represented a coup of some sort because Mursi and the Brothers hugged Carter, hugged each other — and although I’m no lip reader “Mabrouk” (Congratulations) was an easy read.
Egyptians are flummoxed as to the MB’s cozy relationship with the Obama administration which heartily supported Mursi’s presidency from the get-go and was visibly angered by his unseating. While it’s true that Obama has no appetite to call the army’s intervention “a coup” because quite simply he doesn’t want to risk losing strategically-crucial Egypt to US competitors such as Russia and China, the so-called Leader of the Free World is far from pleased — and neither are his sycophants in Britain and the EU which have been working to undermine the country’s interim government of technocrats ever since it was formed. The US has suspended delivery of four fighter jets; the EU has frozen 5 billion euros in grants and loans and the UK has revoked export licenses for arms components.
All are clamoring for Mursi’s release from detention even though he is currently under investigation for espionage, collaborating with foreigners (Hamas) on a prison-break that freed him from Wadi Natron when police and prison guards were killed. Obama’s attitude is all the more mysterious when video evidence has recently emerged showing Egyptians among those who attacked the US Embassy in Libya in September last year, killing the ambassador and three of the embassy staff. According to Front Page Magazine, the video shot on a mobile phone, “shows a mob approaching the American compound under siege, clearly telling the terrorists in the dialect of Upper Egypt: “Mahadesh, mahadesh yermi, Dr. Morsi ba’atna” – which translates to: “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, Mursi sent us.” The belief among Egyptians is that Mursi made a quid-pro-quo deal with Obama to donate acres of northern Sinai to enlarge the territory of Gaza to ease the US-brokered peace initiative happening now.
With its very survival at stake, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has been occupying Rabaa Adaweya Square for a month, much to the distress of local residents, and is fomenting turmoil countrywide. Its core strategy is to present itself as peaceful to the outside world that has largely bought-in to its contrived victim-status; never mind that its leaders have called for jihad against fellow Egyptians, fellow Muslims they say are Infidels — and attempt to provoke security forces daily. Never mind that MB supporters have been caught on video shooting firearms, throwing petrol bombs, setting fire to cars and chopping up pavements to lob concrete blocks at police.
Its leaders, who are orchestrating the terrorist attacks in northern Sinai, are using women and children as human shields to deter security forces from forcibly ending the sit-in. They still demand the reinstatement of Mursi and the constitution and are now upping the ante by threatening to destroy electricity stations. Problem is the 30 plus million Egyptians who went out last Friday to give the army a mandate to fight “violence and terrorism” will not be blackmailed.
On Sunday, the EU’s Catherine Ashton visited Cairo for the second time in two weeks armed with a plan for reconciliation that demands compromise from both sides. Will she succeed where so many others have failed? Doubtful! But one thing is certain, the Brotherhood’s grip on the most populous Arab country is broken and, if one believes in the domino theory, it may not be too long before Libya and Tunisia follow suit.

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