Diplomat says US officials met with Muslim Brothers

Egyptian party's officials deny any such contacts were made, after Washington announces resuming limited contacts with Brotherhood.

By REUTERS
October 2, 2011 12:55
3 minute read.
Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders [file]

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders 311 (R). (photo credit: Amr Dalsh / Reuters)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

CAIRO - US officials met members of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party, a US diplomat said, after Washington announced it would have direct contacts with Egypt's biggest Islamist group whose role has grown since US ally Hosni Mubarak was ousted.

Washington announced the plans in June, portraying such contacts as the continuation of an earlier policy. But analysts said it reflected a new approach to the way it dealt with a group which Mubarak banned from politics.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


RELATED:
Muslim Brotherhood text reveals scope of radical creed
Dangerously underestimating the Muslim Brotherhood

The Brotherhood is one of Egypt's most popular and organized groups, with a broad grassroots network built up partly through social work even in Mubarak's era.

The contacts may unsettle Israel and its US backers. The Brotherhood renounced violence as a means to achieve political change in Egypt years ago. But groups like Hamas, which have not disavowed violence, look to the Brotherhood as a spiritual guide.

Under the previous policy, US diplomats were allowed to deal with the Brotherhood's members of parliament who had won seats as "independents" to skirt the official ban. This provided a diplomatic cover to keep lines of communication open.

"We have had direct contacts with senior officials of the Freedom and Justice party," the senior diplomat told Reuters, referring to the Brotherhood's party that was founded after politics opened up following the ouster of Mubarak.



The diplomat said US officials did not make a distinction between members of the Brotherhood or its party. "We don't have a policy that makes a distinction, that one or the other is off limits," he said, without saying when the meetings took place.

The diplomat was responding to a question about whether any meetings had occurred, after Freedom Justice Party Chairman Mohamed Mursi told Egypt's Al-Dostour newspaper last week that US officials had not made contact since the policy shift.

Speaking to Reuters on Sunday, the party deputy head Essam el-Erian also denied any meetings had taken place with US officials when asked about the diplomat's comments.

It was not immediately clear why the two sides gave different accounts.

"High-level" meetings were held between Brotherhood members, Washington  

Under the former Egyptian president, the Brotherhood was banned and its members often detained. Mubarak often presented himself as the bulwark preventing Egypt's slide into Islamist hands, an approach that analysts said help secure him backing from Washington and other Western powers wary that Egypt could turn into another Iran or Gaza.

The group took a backseat in the early part of the anti-Mubarak uprising, which was broadly led by youth groups who put national concerns above religion. But the Brotherhood and its party have taken a increasingly prominent role since.

The diplomat said the US contacts had been with "high-level" members of the Brotherhood's party but did not give names. From the US side, he said the contacts were not at ambassadorial level but he did not give further details.

"We had occasionally had these contacts in the past ... The difference is in the past we had seen parliamentarians," he said.

Egypt's parliament was dissolved after Mubarak's fall. Fresh elections for the lower house are due to start in November, with a vote for the upper house early next year.

The Brotherhood is expected to perform well in the vote, although many analysts expect a fairly fragmented parliament with no single unified voice emerging.

Related Content

Angela Merkel
August 21, 2018
More refugees find jobs in Germany, integration going 'pretty well'

By REUTERS