”Don’t scare anyone. But once you gain ground then move ahead. You must utilize as many people as possible who may be of use to us.” — Joseph Stalin to future Communist dictator of Hungary Matyas Rakosi, December 5, 1944.
It really isn’t hard to understand what is happening in the Middle East if you gather the facts:
1. Jordan’s King Abdullah — whom President Barack Obama just visited — is clearly telling us what’s going wrong: the Muslim Brotherhood is dangerous, and the United States is supporting it. Presumably, this is what Abdullah told Obama.
2. U.S. policy is now escalating support for a Muslim Brotherhood regime in Syria, and the Syrian rebels increasingly have open Brotherhood leadership.
3. Repression is gradually escalating in Egypt, with arrests of moderates, Islamists being sent to the military academy, and many other measures.
Regarding Jordan, Jeffrey Goldberg has written an extremely valuable profile of Abdullah. The Jordanian monarch is telling Western visitors that their countries are making a huge mistake by supporting the Islamists. He complains that the U.S. State Department is ignoring him, and further, that U.S. officials are telling him: “The only way you can have democracy is through the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Abdullah responds: the Brotherhood wants to impose anti-American reactionary governments, and his “major fight” is to stop them. No margin may be left for relative moderate and pro-American states between a Sunni Islamist alliance led by Egypt and including Turkey versus a Shia Islamist alliance led by Iran, says Abdullah. And he’s right. The only differences, Abdullah explains, between the Turkish and Egyptian regimes are their timetables for installing dictatorships.
And Egypt’s new president, says the king, is obsessed with a hostile view of Israel.
(Here’s the delicious irony: Last August, Jordanian Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh launched a ferocious personal attack on me. Why? Because I said that the Sunni-Shia battle was going to replace the Arab-Israeli conflict. Well, his king just concurred with me. LOL.)
Meanwhile, while President Barack Obama was love-bombing Israel during his visit, U.S. policy was helping to install a Muslim Brotherhood supporter as the putative next leader of Syria. Obama’s strategy — with appropriate adjustments to the national scene — is the same as his disastrous policy in Egypt.
The new leader of the Syrian opposition coalition is Ghassan Hitto, an obscure figure who has long been a resident of the United States. His actual election contained two hints:
— He only received 35 votes from 63 members of the Syrian National Coalition. That show of support matches the number of Muslim Brotherhood supporters there.
— Only 48 out of the 63 even cast a ballot at all, showing lack of enthusiasm and possible U.S. pressure on groups to abstain rather than oppose Hitto.
During the Cold War, American policy toward Third World countries frequently looked for a “third way” democratic alternative — leaders who were neither Communists nor right-wing authoritarians. Today, however, the Obama administration doesn’t do the equivalent at all, despite pretenses to the contrary. Rather, it seeks leadership from the most seemingly moderate people … who represent Islamist groups. Of course, this moderation is largely deceptive.
That was the pattern in Egypt; now it is the same failed strategy in Syria.
Hitto is a typical example of such a person. He has lived in the United States and went to university there, so presumably he knows the West and has become more moderate by living there. He is involved in high-tech enterprises, so supposedly he is a modern type of guy.
Remember how now-dictator of Syria Bashar al-Assad was lavishly praised because he studied and lived in London and was supposedly interested in … the internet?
In addition, nobody has (yet) uncovered an outrageous Hitto statement. His ties to the Brotherhood are not so blatant — even though they are obvious.
Yet the connections between Hitto and the Muslim Brotherhood — and those are only the ones documented quickly following his election — are extensive:
— He is founder of the Muslim Legal Fund of America, largely directed by Muslim Brotherhood members.
— He was a secretary-treasurer of the American Middle Eastern League for Palestine (AMELP), which is closely linked to the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), which supports Hamas and terrorism against Israel.
— Hitto was vice president of the CAIR Dallas/Fort Worth chapter, and director of the Muslim American Society (MAS) Youth Center of Dallas, which was a Muslim Brotherhood front group.
The list goes on and on.
To sum up the situation, Hassan Hassan of the United Arab Emirates newspaper The National published an article titled “How the Muslim Brotherhood Hijacked Syria’s Revolution.”
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Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Thirteen of his books can be read and downloaded for free at the website of the GLORIA Center including The Arab States and the Palestine Conflict, The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East and The Truth About Syria. His blog is Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.