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Does the Islamists’ rise to power achieve American interests?

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In light of the lack – and at times absence – of information, accurate political analysis has become extremely difficult to come by. Hence, we can say without any exaggeration that efforts of analysts in our country rely upon guesswork and whatever information has been scattered and spread as rumours, which find their way the halls and gatherings of intellectuals and politicians.

Thus, analysts and pundits have come to depend upon their God-given inference in order to sort through the rumours and tales’ and extract what they consider to be information. And after reordering and restructuring this so called information, these analysts and pundits come up with conclusions, the validity of which is subject to a variety of factors; among them the method of inference and analytical procedure on one hand and the extent of informational accuracy and comprehensiveness on the other.

What then exactly are the relationships that tie the Muslim Brotherhood and the United States of America with one another? Did the United States support the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt? And if the United States did support the Muslim Brotherhood, why did it do so and how was this support offered?

It would have been possible for us – and for eveyone – to have a satisfactory answer to these questions if the two parties, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Americans, had publicised the details of their communications and disclosed the mutually beneficial agreements they reached. Remarkably, however, these two parties have been careful to hide the size and nature their relationship.

The United States has been content to emphasise its preference for democracy and the choice of the Egyptian people rather than openly mentioning its support for Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power.

According to some politicians, when they and some analysts criticised the United States for its bias towards to Muslim Brotherhood, despite the secretarian ideologies inconsistent with the principles of human rights that are present within the Muslim Brotherhood’s programmes, the Americans again emphasised – in more hostile and serious words – that they supported the choice of the Egyptian people citing the proverb, “You have made your bed, and now you must lie in it.”

Thus, the Americans described the Muslim Brothers as undesirable bedfellows, but emphasised that the Egyptian people are the ones responsible for making the bed. Likewise, the Americans did not announce why they supported the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power and also avoided disclosing the size and extent of this support even though rumours had reach the extent that it was said that the US had more than once threatened to carry out various forms of economic pressure if steps were not take to smoothly surrender power to the Muslim Brotherhood.

It started with the announcement of the group’s victory in the parliamentary elections, continued with the announcement of Mohamed Morsy’s victory in the presidential elections and ended with the dismissal of Tantawi and Anan.

Regardless of these rumours’ exaggeration and regardless of the specifics of whether or not the US supported the Muslim Brotherhood during its ascent to power, there is no doubt that the US government was careful to announce its clear support at every juncture that moved the Muslim Brotherhood closer to power. And, we are certain that without this support, or at least without the lack of American objections, neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor anyone else would have been able to rise to power in Egypt.

Naturally, the support of the US – or its lack of objections – does not come out of its love for democracy but rather from the US government finding the Muslim Brotherhood able to manage Egypt in a manner that achieves the interests of the US.

Remarkably, the Muslim Brotherhood has neither publicized the nature of its relationship with the United States nor disclosed the possible issues of agreement between itself and the US government. In other words, even though there is no doubt that communications between the two parties have led to pledges of specific, mutual commitments, the Muslim Brotherhood has not publicised whatever it pledged to the US in return for its support.

Thus far, the US has fulfilled its pledges by supporting the steps surrendering power to the Muslim Brotherhood and continuing to provide the same amount of aid and economic support. However, has the Muslim Brotherhood fulfilled its pledges? In the absence of information, we must ask to what has the Muslim Brotherhood pledged? Rumours and reports say that the Muslim Brotherhood has pledged to carry out the IMF’s recommendations and to guarantee the security and stability of the country and regionally to support the US stance regarding Iran and Syria.

It also has commitments to Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a manner compatible with Israel’s interests and security.

There is a lot of evidence confirming that the Muslim Brothers have not hesitated to fulfil their pledges. They accepted the IMF loan that they had previously refused and even added religious legitimacy to it when they insisted that the 1.5 per cent interest rate was administrational costs rather than interest. Meanwhile in Tehran, President Morsy effectively prevented any improvement in Egyptian-Iranian relations by intentionally praising the Prophet Mohammad’s companions – whom are the source of all the Sunni-Shi’a sectarian strife.

Moreover, in the same speech and on every subsequent occasion, Morsy has repeated his support for the Syrian revolution. Elsewhere, by supporting the Ismael Haniyeh’s government in the Gaza Strip, the Muslim Brotherhood has contributed to deepening Palestinian disunity, which may cause Jordan to assume responsibility for the West Bank and Egypt to assume control of the Gaza Strip in accordance with Netanyahu’s plan that refuses the two state solution.

What about the security and stability of the country? It is clear that the Muslim Brotherhood has presented itself to the world and also the democratic forces within Egypt as a moderate Islamist current, able to not only restrain the excessively wild ideas and opinions of the Salafis but also to confront the violent intellectual and dynamic extremism of the jihadist ideology.

In this regard, the Muslim Brotherhood has also attempted to follow through on its pledges. The most prominent example of this is the military campaign through which the Muslim Brotherhood hoped to restore security in the Sinai and wrench the peninsula from the grasp of terrorist groups.

The Muslim Brotherhood has spared no effort in attempting to fulfil its pledges, which not only are executing American directives but also are consistent with the intersection of Muslim Brotherhood-American interests.

Let us ask, however, to what extent has the Muslim Brotherhood successfully fulfilled its pledges or if the Muslim Brotherhood can even fulfil its pledges? Let us go even further and ask whether the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood really coincide with the interests of the US – especially those interests we have mentioned here?

On the other side of the pond, particularly behind the scenes of the American government, there is evidence confirming the existence of a public dialogue between a movement still supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and another one questioning the correctness of this position and the extent to which it may harm US policy.

The Egyptian-American or the Muslim Brotherhood-American relationship needs further contemplation. This contemplation ought not to delve into specifics about the extent of compatibility between the two parties’ positions or the ability of one party or another to fulfil its commitments.

Instead, we need to read this issue with respect to the regional dimensions of US policy whose support for Islamists is not limited to the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt but rather includes other Islamist movements’ ascensions to power in other Arab countries. As the American elections draw near, this contemplation has become necessary and urgent.

About the author

Farid Zahran

Farid Zahran is a publisher and writer. He is the co-founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party


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