The Muslim Brotherhood, originally referred as The Muslim Brothers, impacted the politics of various countries in the Middle East since the group’s founding in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna. Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower, said Banna’s goal was “turning Egypt into an Islamic state.” Wright credits the Brotherhood for “planting the seeds of the coming Islamic insurgence.” [pg. 16]
Banna was assassinated in 1949.
At the moment Democrat policy towards the civil unrest in Egypt can be described as Déjà vu.
The Brotherhood began as a small movement, but ultimately expanded power to gain seats in various government bodies in countries like Egypt. In 1992 The Los Angeles Times said members of the Brotherhood ran in elections as independents “in cooperation with the Socialist Labor Party.”
Other groups with goals similar to those of the Brotherhood included Jamaat al-Jihad—the Jihad Group.
Wright notes in his book the Jihad Group had “no intention” of achieving its goals of a pure Islamic state and restoring the Caliphate by political means. Ayman al-Zawahiri formed a large Jihad Group cell. Wright said of Zawahiri, “He grew to despise the Muslim Brotherhood for its willingness to compromise.” Wright also includes mention of an associate of Zawahiri, a Brit who converted to Islam. Wright describes the associate as an “ex-Marxist.” [pg. 42]
The U.S. actually helped men like Zawahiri by supporting the so-called ‘freedom fighters’ during Afghanistan’s war with Russia in the 1980s. A poorly rendered film celebrating the efforts of Democrat congressman Charlie Wilson was based on the excellent book Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile. Crile recounts how Wilson “shepherded through a foreign-assistance package for Egypt” in 1983. The package totaled $1 billion. [pg.144] The film painted Wilson, also believed to be a cocaine-snorting*, hard drinking womanizer, as a hero.
Wilson was also the key player in diverting billions of US tax dollars to arm and train the freedom fighters in the 1980s. Zawahiri acknowledged the U.S. had helped Afghanistan but still, he considered the U.S. an enemy. Wright quotes Zawahiri’s assessment of the freedom fighters’ ally. “They’re equally evil,” said Zawahiri, who added the Americans “must be confronted.” [pg. 46]
Zawahiri had worked at a Muslim Brothers hospital in Afghanistan—his endeavors in the war began in 1980.
Zawahiri is on the FBI’s most wanted list, indicted for “for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.” Zawahiri founded the Egyptian Islamic Jihad Group. The FBI said this group has long sought to overthrow the Egyptian government by violent means. EIJ merged with al Qaeda around 1998, according to the FBI.
Both The Muslim Brothers and The Jihad Group are committed to the establishment of an Islamist government.
Islamist protests and conflicts
In 1985, The Toledo Blade featured a story originally run in The L.A. Times about the premier of Jordan visiting Syria’s president Hafez al-Assad. Assad “held Jordan responsible,” said the paper, for the deaths of between 3,000-10,000 people during an “uprising led by the Brotherhood in the Syrian city of Hama.” [11-13-1985, pg. 2]
In 2008, a protest in Egypt included the Brotherhood. Alarabiya covered the protest attended by approximately 6,000 people described as Egyptians and “an expatriate minority.” It is likely a number of protesters in that “expatriate minority” were outsiders aligned with the Islamist cause.
Alarabiya said, “Delivering a speech to a sea of demonstrators through a speaker, Muhammad Mahdi Aakif, Muslim Brotherhood chairman, called on Egyptians to join in a jihad against Israel.” The Arab News service said one of the many protest signs read, “Eliminate fascist Israel before it eliminates you!” The page has apparently been removed from Alarabiya, but it is cached by Bing. The US Report could not access the page via Google.
In a July 1, 1990 article, The New York Times said “Islamic fundamentalism is winning votes.” The story disclosed the Egyptian government “tolerates” the Muslim Brotherhood but also “fights almost weekly clashes with the more militant Islamic Cells.”
Lebanese historian George Corn told the NYT the West might have to “expand contact with fundamentalists.” Corn said, ''What can be done is encourage the Muslim tendencies that are moderate…Ignoring Islam, or, worse yet, assaulting it as a religion, only adds fuel to the fire.''
Clinton reaches out to Muslims
After taking office two years later, Democrat president Bill Clinton followed Corn’s advice with diplomacy and humanitarian aid.
A US Senate report in 1997 harshly criticized Clinton's policy after he sent US troops as part of a NATO force in the Balkans.
The document asserts, “Perhaps most threatening to the SFOR [stabilization force] mission—and more importantly, to the safety of the American personnel serving in Bosnia—is the unwillingness of the Clinton Administration to come clean with the Congress and with the American people about its complicity in the delivery of weapons from Iran to the Muslim government in Sarajevo. That policy, personally approved by Bill Clinton in April 1994 at the urging of CIA Director-designate (and then-NSC chief) Anthony Lake and the U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, has, according to the Los Angeles Times (citing classified intelligence community sources), ‘played a central role in the dramatic increase in Iranian influence in Bosnia.’”
Repeatedly under different US administrations, diplomacy with Muslim countries has gone astray. As progressive media praise the current “revolutionaries” in Egypt, it might be worth considering the potential outcomes if Islamist groups capitalize on the power vacuum and chaos President Hosni Mubarak suggested will occur.
US ally Israel has few friends in the countries that surround her. US diplomatic actions of late appear to disregard concern for a country that has struggled since its official birth in the aftermath of the Holocaust.
The 1997 Senate report was produced by Republicans, but in hindsight, some of the cautions were worth paying attention to.
The report advised, “The Clinton Administration's blunder in giving the green light to the Iranian arms pipeline was based, among other errors, on a gross misreading of the true nature and goals of the Izetbegovic regime in Sarajevo. It calls to mind the similar mistake of the Carter Administration, which in 1979 began lavish aid to the new Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the hopes that (if the United States were friendly enough) the nine comandantes would turn out to be democrats, not communists, despite abundant evidence to the contrary. By the time the Reagan Administration finally cut off the dollar spigot in 1981, the comandantes—or the ‘nine little Castros,’ as they were known locally—had fully entrenched themselves in power.”
Progressive US media and Clinton sided with Muslims against orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics in the Balkans. The Asheville Tribune (North Carolina) summed up Clinton’s policy in a blistering analysis by Mike Scruggs. Scruggs wrote, “Over 100 thousand people were killed and 1.3 million displaced so Bill Clinton could demonstrate U.S. friendship to the Muslim world. In doing so, he also created an Islamic terrorist stronghold threatening our European allies.”
Ed. note: *Wilson never admitted to cocaine use and he was never convicted of using the drug.
Expert on Middle East predicted unrest in Egypt
(Analysis by Kay B. Day/Feb. 4, 2011)