Posts Tagged ‘Brotherhood’

Morsi Names Prime Minister: a Nearly Unknown Technocrat

July 24th, 2012 Comments off

The new Prime Minister of Egypt has a Ph.D. in irrigation and sewage. That may be a good thing; irrigation is vital if rather low-profile, and the PM is traditionally a fairly faceless technocrat. Usually not quite so faceless no one has heard of him, though. He was a member of the outgoing interim Cabinet as Irrigation and Water Resources Minister, and before that a bureaucrat in the Water Ministry.

The appointment of Hisham Qandil after a wait of nearly a month comes as something of an anticlimax, however: the delay had led to reports, which may be true, that SCAF and/or the Muslim Brotherhood leadership had vetoed certain candidates with a national or international profile.

He’s the youngest Prime Minister in Egyptian history, they say, and is said to have never belonged to any political party, but is rumored to be close to the Muslim Brotherhood. Note that he has a beard, but not a heavy one, The MB says he’s not a member.

His CV, in Arabic, is here. He’s US educated (North Carolina and Utah).

Right now that’s about all most Egyptians know. Few of them apparently ever heard of him either. More comment later perhaps.

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Further Notes on the 60th Anniversary of July 23,1952

July 24th, 2012 Comments off

A couple of addenda to my earlier comments on the 60th anniversary of Egypt’s 1952:
Ahram Online has a lengthy excerpt from the memoir of the last surviving Free Officer, Khaled Mohieddin. (Though the caption on their photo of the Free Officers actually identifies his recently deceased cousin, Zakaria Mohieddin.) On his and Nasser’s secret dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood:

I continued to read the books brought to me by Usman Fawzi and I constantly demanded that there be a clear programme for the Brotherhood, defining its national objectives and its position and demands of the various social categories. In my arguments, I began to lean to the left and I became the odd man out in a group supposedly affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a final effort, Hasan El-Banna sought to link us with the Brotherhood via a strong bond. He decided that Nasser and I should join the Brotherhood’s Secret Division. Perhaps it was because we were the most active and effective in our group and, consequently, winning us over completely would mean ultimately winning over the whole group.

Or perhaps it was because we talked much about the nation and nationalism and therefore he believed that by having us join the Secret Division, which was concerned with weaponry and armed action, he would be satisfying our patriotic enthusiasm and ensuring closer ties with the Brotherhood.

Anyway, we were contacted by Salah Khalifa, who took the two of us to a house in Darb Al-Ahmar toward Sayyida Zaynab. There we met Abd El-Rahman El-Sanadi, head of the Brotherhood’s Secret Division at the time.

We were taken into a totally darkened room where we heard a voice (I think it was that of Saleh Ashmawi) and, placing our hands on the Quran and a gun and repeating after the voice, we took an oath of obedience and total allegiance, for better or worse, to the Grandmaster, swearing by the Book of God and the Sunna (traditions) of the Prophet. Although these rites were meant to stir the emotions, they had very little impact on Nasser and myself.

In any case, we began to work in the Secret Division and we were taken for training at a place near Helwan. Since we were officers, it was only natural that we were more knowledgeable about weapons than our training instructors. Nasser was not too happy with the situation and we felt alienated from the Brotherhood.

Also, Al-Ahram’s front page the next day; “The Army Carries Out a Peaceful Military Movement”:

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Could Michelle Bachmann cost Romney the Presidency?

July 23rd, 2012 Comments off

Michele Bachmann is flailing around accusing all the US government officials of Muslim heritage of being connected to the Muslim Brotherhood (which in turn she misunderstands as a radical group). Not only did she attack the aide to Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, but when Rep. Keith Ellison complained about her McCarthyite campaign, she launched the same accusation at him (Ellison is one of two Muslims in the Congress).

Bachmann’s bizarre behavior (there, I’ve been redundant) is alarming the Republican establishment. Even right wing poobah Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), head of the House intelligence committee, after initially supporting her, has backed away from Bachmann’s nuttiness, at least on this issue.

Given her own strong ties to the Iranian terrorist organization, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK or People’s Holy Jihadis), Bachmann is in a weak position to accuse other people. The MEK was involved in taking US diplomats hostage, and then in the 1990s allied with Saddam Hussein. In fact, her colleagues in Congress should investigate if she has taken money from the MEK, or has given them material assistance. She is, I’ve argued much closer to the Muslim Brotherhood than the people she is accusing. It is extremely scary that this woman is on the House Intelligency Committee. She would even be in a position to share US intelligence with MEK terrorists.

Establishment Republicans are increasingly dissociating themselves from her just because they don’t want to be tarred by her brush. And, in general, you don’t want the Republican brand being dominated by Bachmann in an election year. But there is another consideration that may have them running from her.

Just as Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s campaign against Latinos has helped deprive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney of support in that community, Bachmann’s targeting of Muslim-Americans and, implicitly, Arab-Americans, could hurt Romney in those communities.

One of Romney’s strategies for winning enough votes in the electoral college to become president is to target the big Midwestern states of Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Those three all have significant Arab-American and Muslim-American communities. The Arab-Americans in Michigan are often considered a swing vote, since the state is pretty evenly divided otherwise. They had tended to vote Republican in the 1990s, but George W. Bush’s wars in the Middle East and his alliance with the worst elements in the evangelical community and the right wing of the Israel lobby drove them into the arms of the Democrats. See this VOA report on how Arab-Americans (who include both Muslims and Christians) are trending Democrat

The Midwestern states could be close, and even small communities could turn the election to one side or another. Remember how Florida in 2000 hung on just a few hundred votes. Well, there are over 250,000 Arab-Americans in Florida. Probably at least half of them are Christians, but they can all tell when someone is prejudiced against their culture.

Florida has over 250,000 Arab-Americans now– enough to be a swing vote given how close Florida elections are:

Courtesy Arab-American Institute

Muslim-Americans also have significant communities all through the swing states:

(courtesy this site

Everyone knows that Bachmann is a Republican and former primary candidate for the presidential nomination on that party ticket. Her antics may impress people in Anoka, MN (though how, I can’t imagine). But the Muslim-American and Arab-American voters are unlikely to be amused.

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U.S., Saudi Arabia unwilling to challenge Egyptian army

July 22nd, 2012 Comments off

“…In an apparent swipe at the Brotherhood during a visit to Egypt by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Egypt’s top general, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, said the army would not allow a “specific group” to dominate Egypt…..
For now, Mursi may still be too weak, and the Brotherhood too untested, for Washington to bring decisive pressure to bear on the generals on his behalf.
“Mursi is trying to use foreign support, to the extent it is available, for a transition to a more democratic polity to enhance his powers and those of the Brotherhood,” said Kamran Bokhari, vice-president for the Middle East and South Asia at Stratfor.
But he said the military leadership remained a partner of choice for the outside world, “partly because of longstanding relations and partly because of U.S. uncertainty over the Brotherhood coming to power.”
Mursi seemed to be doing his best to have it otherwise on a visit last week to U.S. ally and regional power Saudi Arabia, whose monarchy looked on with unease last year as popular uprisings spread through the region.
While sharing similar ideology to the conservative Saudi monarchy, the Brotherhood has a popular appeal that some perceive as a threat to the authority of the Saudi government.
Mursi, surely anxious to keep vital Saudi financial aid flowing into Egypt’s depleted state coffers after he took office, did his best to mend the Brotherhood’s strained ties with the oil-rich kingdom. …”

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The Suleiman Funeral and the Problem of Who Will Attend

July 19th, 2012 Comments off

Today’s death of ‘Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian intelligence chief and, briefly., Vice President, has created something of a protocol quandary. He was, after all, Vice President of the country, in fact the only Vice President it has had since Husni Mubarak ascended to the Presidency. He also heald the rank of Major General in the Armed Forces, so he is of course being accorded a military funeral (tomorrow) and, unsurprisingly, Field Marshal Tantawi will attend.

But what about President Morsi? ‘Omar Suleiman’s record as an intelligence chief is mostly sealed, but of one thing he never made any secret: he was the inveterate foe of the Muslim Brotherhood, jailing them at home and working against their ally Hamas abroad. Will the Muslim Brothjerhood President attend the funeral of the man known for jailing Brotherhood members. (Morsi himself has spent short prisons in jail, though not the years of many of his colleagues.)

Early indications are, no: someone from the Presidential office will represent Morsi at the funeral. This could change, but it is the sort of awkward problem likely to crop up during Egypt’s transition. When Mubarak dies, the fact that he was convicted of a crime and imprisoned might mean a low-key funeral. But Suleiman is an ex-Vice President, with no convictions, though there was speculation he might have left Egypt to live in the Gulfs when he left the country after Morsi’s election.

And of course the conspiracy theorists are out in force, as is to be expected for a man with a spooky background like Suleiman’s. Either the US did him in (after all, this week’s conspiracy, as Hillary Clinton learned, is that the US is promoting the Muslim Brotherhood), or he actually died in the bombing in Damascus! 

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Muslim Brotherhood on sectarianism

July 18th, 2012 Comments off
Listening to a Syrian Muslim Brotherhood type talking about sectarianism of the Syrian regime is like listening to George W. Bush talking against war.  

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Is Michele Bachmann an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood?

July 18th, 2012 Comments off

It has become increasingly apparent that politics and business often attract psychopaths, because of the opportunities they offer for the gratification of narcissism, grandiosity, sadism and other severe pathologies.

For psychopaths, really on an Anders Breivik pre-massacre level, no one takes the cake in American politics more than Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, of Minnesota’s 6th District.

Bachmann has recently been charging that the federal government is infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and gives poor Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and wife of former congressman Anthony Weiner, as her evidence. I mean, this stuff is reminiscent of the LaRouchies and of Nixon’s dirty tricks, and of course of McCarthyism.

But as Karl Marx remarked, everything in history occurs twice, first as tragedy, and the second time as farce. Bachmann is the farce.

But the irony is that Bachmann is right. There is a figure in the Federal government that has suspicious ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Muslim fundamentalist movement that began in Egypt in 1928. It is Michele Bachmann.

1. Bachmann is a major supporter of the MEK (Mojahedin-e Khalq or People’s Holy Jihadis), an Iranian terrorist group that joined in the taking of US diplomats hostage in 1979-81. The MEK was formed as a mixture of Marxism and Muslim fundamentalism, and was influenced by Sayyid Qutb, a major thinker of the …. Muslim Brotherhood.

2. Bachmann has accused President Barack Obama of ‘leading from behind’ and not being interventionist enough in Syria. She wants the secular, Arab nationalist regime in Syria overthrown. But the major opposition force in Syria is the Muslim Brotherhood, and it would have a good chance of coming to power (just as happened in post-revolutionary Egypt) if the Baath falls. AnsaMed writes

“In spite of ”long years of repression by the regime,” the movement has remained strong in Syria, said Brotherhood leader, Mohammad Riad Shakfa. The biggest force on the Syrian National Council, which is the West’s main opposition interlocutor, and very influential in the Syrian Free Army…

So Bachmann is actually herself a strong ally of the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria.

3. Bachmann is a supporter of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and tried to visit with them.. The Northern Alliance was a coalition of forces fighting the Taliban. It consisted in part of the Jami’at-i Islami, to which many of its prominent members belonged. The Jami’at-i Islami is the AFghanistan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded by Egyptian missionaries in the 1960s. Another component of the Northern Alliance was the Shiite Hizb-i Vahdat or Unity Party, which was allied with Iran in the 1990s.

So Bachmann is, once again, closely connected with the Muslim Brotherhood via the Afghanistan Northern Alliance.

4. In fall of 2011 as the US was preparing to withdraw from Iraq, Michele Bachmann opposed the troop withdrawal. She said that the US was being kicked out of Iraq because the Shiite government of PM Nouri al-Maliki was under the thumb of Iran, and taking orders from it.

Iraq’s disgraced former vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, also accused Tehran of orchestrating the launches of charges against him of being involved in terrorism. Bachmann is therefore an ally of Hashemi, since they have the same analysis and resentments toward Iran’s role in Iraqi politics, and they oppose that role together. Hashemi was for a long time a leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party, which is the Iraqi branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded by an Egyptian missionary in 1934 in Mosul.

In all seriousness, the Muslim Brotherhood is not a centralized party. It has its own history in each country where it exists, and the leaderships don’t coordinate. The largest MB party is in Egypt, and it is not only not a terrorist group, it is behind the Freedom and Justice Party, which got 46 percent of the seats in the parliament and won the presidency. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood made a commitment to non-violence and to civil politics in the 1970s and is not a terrorist organization.

Still, it is very suspicious the way it has managed to recruit a Minnesota congresswoman to its cause.

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US Official: "No secret deal with the Muslim Brotherhood!"

July 18th, 2012 Comments off

“…Furthermore, she said the US had made no secret deals with anybody, despite claims in the Egyptian media that the US had backed the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi in the presidential election…
Youssef also expressed his fear that Egypt was turning into another Pakistan: “It is similar to the situation [in Pakistan] whereby the US supports the military and the Islamist government at the same time…”

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MBBBB (Muslim Brotherhood Bashing by Bachman)

July 15th, 2012 Comments off

Anti-Obama propaganda on Americans Stand with Israel website

Ellison Challenges Bachmann: Put Up or Shut Up

by James Zogby, The Huffington Post, July 14, 2012

A few weeks back, the sensation-seeking Representative Michele Bachmann did her best imitation of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. She and four of her Congressional colleagues released letters they had collectively sent to the Inspectors General of the Departments of State, Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security, and the Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence calling on them to investigate whether “influence operations conducted by individuals and organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood” have “had an impact on the federal government’s national security policies.”

Warning of “determined efforts by the Muslim Brotherhood to penetrate and subvert the American government as part of its ‘civilizational jihad’” the representatives wanted the Inspectors General to identify the Muslims who were influencing U.S. policy.

In making these charges, Bachmann and her cohorts were relying on the work of a Washington-based group the Center for Security Policy — a notorious player in the anti-Muslim industry that has been working for several years to smear Muslim American groups. The head of the Center served as one of Bachmann’s advisers during her ill-fated run for the presidency and the only source cited in the Congressional letters was the Center’s “training program,” “The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy Within.”

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Morsi Reaffirms Israel Peace Treaty to Clinton

July 15th, 2012 Comments off

The establishment press in Egypt, al-Ahram (“The Pyramids”), reported cautiously on the meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi (from the Muslim Brotherhood party).

1. It noted that Clinton affirmed the US desire that the Egyptian military go to its barracks and leave elected civilians in charge.

2. It said that she likened Egypt’s transition from authoritarian governance to democracy to earlier such transitions in East Asia and Latin America.

3. Clinton reaffirmed the US intention to forgive $1 billion of Egyptian debt.

4. She also spoke of $250 million in aid.

5. She promised to send American businessmen to explore new investments in the Egyptian economy.

6. She said that the current constitutional crisis over the Supreme Administrative Court’s and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’s dismissals of the elected parliament, and Morsi’s attempt to reinstate it, was a matter of internal Egyptian politics in which the US would not interfere.

The interim Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Muhammad Kamil Amr, said that President Morsi had affirmed to him a commitment to the peace treaty with Israel, as well as to an on-going peace process that should end with a two-state solution with 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as the capital, and statehood for the Palestinians. This statement from Amr is the first explicit delineation of Morsi’s exact position on the Camp David accords with Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood, from which he springs, has been scathingly critical of Camp David for decades, seeing it as a means of neutralizing Egypt and allowing the Israelis to expropriate the Palestinians at will.

Unfortunately, this position would have been reasonable in the 1990s. Now, rapid Israeli colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem has probably made a two-state solution impossible, and Israel’s far rightwing leadership will see Morsi’s position as “radical” and unacceptable. The Likud government is firmly committed to expanding the number of Israeli squatters on Palestinian land, which Morsi opposes.

Meanwhile, there were two demonstrations against Clinton’s visit. Some Coptic Christians demonstrated at the Presidential Palace, complaining of US intervention in Egypt and of Western attempts to use Coptic Chrisitans as a pretext to interfere in Egyptian affairs. I presume that these are Christian leftists.

There was also a demonstration in front of the US embassy, which demanded the release of prisoners held at Guantanamo. I presume these demonstrators included member of the Gama’a al-Islamiya or Islamic Grouping, and perhaps Salafis.

Clinton said that in a democracy we are used to people exercising their right to demonstration.

On Sunday, Sec. Clinton meets with Gen. Hussein Tantawi, the chairman of SCAF and the ultimate power in Egypt. The US says it is pressuring Tantawi to leave the political domain to the politicians.

Ironically, some Egyptians, and perhaps including the officer corps, have a strange conspiracy theory that the US wanted to install the Muslim Brotherhood in power in Egypt. I can’t tell you how wrong this theory is. The US had no leverage in Egypt, and largely let things take their course, though they may have strong-armed the Egyptian army into not shooting civilians down in the streets. The US would have prefered that Mubarak’s gang remain in power, but can work with a moderate fundamentalist.

The US just wants a few things from Egypt: Keeping trade flowing through the Red Sea and Suez Canal; the security of Israel; the security of Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf States… (Did I say, ‘the security of Israel?)

The problem for the US will not be that Morsi wants to abrogate Camp David. It will be that he wants to implement it, along with the framework President Jimmy Carter thought essential to it, of peace with the Palestinians. The far rightwing Israeli government has abandoned Camp David and Oslo in favor of exuberant expansionism and the permanent denial of statehood to the Palestinians. The US secretly supports Israel’s most outrageous stances, which will make trouble for relations with Cairo if the Brotherhood manages to get real power.

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