Surprise! Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Seeks Islamist Dictatorship
By Barry Rubin
It shouldn't be a surprise that the Muslim Brotherhood wants an Islamist state in Egypt. After all, that's been its goal since the organization was founded almost 75 years ago, a goal from which it is never deviated for one minute.
Yet some people are shocked, shocked, to see revolutionary Islamism going on. Still, something positive may come out of the Brotherhood leaders' loose lips.
Two Brotherhood leaders, Mahmoud Ezzat, the deputy Supreme Guide, and Saad al-Husseiny, announced the group's two-stage strategy, though I'm expressing it here in my words:
Phase one: Use its new Freedom and Justice Party to build a broad base of support. Do well in a couple of elections. take 30 percent of parliament, lay the basis for an Islamist state in the new constitution.
Phase two: Use anti-Western and anti-Israel demagoguery, preach Islamism in every possible way, indoctrinate young people, watch as a more secular regime fails, and then establish a radical Islamist state with the full array of special punishments, killing of converts, jihad against Israel, etc.
As always happens with Islamists, success breeds arrogance. The Brotherhood was trying to pretend moderation--a tactic that has worked brilliantly with Western journalists--and keep its mouth shut. But once things started looking good, its leaders couldn't stop themselves from bragging about their future total triumph.
Meanwhile, France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has announced that France is ready to talk to all Muslim Brotherhood groups. There are two particular problems here. First, using logic to analyze the foreign minister's position goes like this:
--France's government says that the country will talk with all groups that have renounced violence.
--France's government says that the country will talk with all Muslim Brotherhood groups.
--Therefore, France's government says that all Muslim Brotherhood groups have renounced violence.
The last statement is, of course, untrue. The Egyptian and Jordanian Muslim Brotherhoods--and one coud add the Palestinian Brotherhood, better known as Hamas, too--have not renounced violence. They openly and daily advocate violence against Israel, and the Egyptian Brotherhood has also called for jihad against the United States.
Concluding that the Brotherhood is now a pacifist group thus totally discounts any threat from it.
Second, Juppe said--in words that echoed Obama--that France was fooled by Arab leaders (Egypt? Jordan? Saudi Arabia?) who said that revolutionary Islamists were a threat. "We believed them," Juppe explained, "and now we can see the result."
So the Brotherhood is non-violent, non-threatening, and doesn't seek a radical Islamist regime. That's a basis for disaster if used by Western policy to set strategy in the Middle East. And that's precisely what most Western decisionmakers seem to think.
But something good may come from this. With the Brotherhood acting arrogant, other groups are uniting against it. This candor might well weaken the Islamists over the next year or so, though their longer-term prospects for seizing power are still very real.