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The New American Fans of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

Riedel writes that the years of stability in Egypt and a solid relationship with our country are over. There will be what he calls “more of a sea change in the regional geopolitics.”  The “genie is out of the box” and, Riedel argues, there will be a more representative government in Egypt, one “much more inclined to criticize American and Israeli policies.” While the Egyptian street accepts the “logic of peace with Israel,” clearly Mr. Ridel does not. Indeed, he seems to think changing U.S. policy towards Israel is the key to peace in the region.

To accept Israel, he writes, means for the average Egyptian that he “bristles at the humiliation of being a de facto silent partner in the siege of Gaza, Israel’s wars against Hamas and Hezbollah and America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”  Riedel’s frightening implication is that the U.S. break with Israel and show a new warmth towards Hamas and Hezbollah.  Thus, he writes, if there is a new Israeli war against its enemies, any new “democratic Egyptian government will have to listen to the voices of the street, both the left and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

He notes that the new hero of the day to many, Mohamed ElBaradei, “will almost certainly redouble the effort to put the Israeli [nuclear] arsenal on the agenda of the U.N.Security Council.” (On today’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, ElBaradei told Zakaria that any new government would have to include representatives of the Brotherhood, which he falsely argued was not a radical organization of an Islamist nature.)

In an earlier op-ed, Riedel put it more straightforwardly. His article bore the title “Don’t Fear Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.” We must “understand” the MB, he advises us -- just as Richard Falk told us in 1979 to accept and understand Khomeini. Acknowledging that MB founder Shaykh Hassan al Banna “preached a fundamentalist Islamism” in 1928, Riedel argues that even at the time “he was also open to importing techniques of political propaganda from Europe” that made the MB a “fixture” in Egypt.

As for the MB today, Riedel like other apologists for Islamist groups, lets us know that “it has an enormous social-welfare infrastructure that provides cheap education and health care,” and that even in unfair rigged elections, “it is always the only opposition that does well even against the heavily rigged odds.” He emphasizes that it “renounced violence years ago,” is a group that shows “relative moderation,” etc. And he acknowledges that ElBaradei, the chosen alternative for so many of our country’s so-called “realists,”  has “formed a loose alliance with the Brotherhood because he knows it is the only opposition group that can mobilize masses of Egyptians, especially the poor.”

If I can use an American analogy, that is like arguing in the 1930s that in the midst of economic crisis, depression, and despair, the people should turn to the American Communist Party because it is the only group that has organizational ability, even though its goal is a Soviet America. (Indeed, some people at the time argued just that.)

Riedel goes further, arguing that the MB “is the most reasonable face of Islamic politics in the Arab world today,” and that if one does not accept them, ElBaradei “will be swept along by more radical forces." This is another canard: accept the supposedly moderate radicals, because there are even worse extremists on the horizon. Put aside that, as Roger Kimball reminded us at PJM, the MB  is a supporter of “the grand jihad” and the erosion of Western society from within.