The Muslim Brothers – not all that fraternal

The Muslim Brotherhood continues to deny the right to liberty, equality and fraternity among man.

Morsi and Clinton 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Morsi and Clinton 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Muslim Brotherhoood (MB) is a fundamentalist Islamist organization that has earned international status since it took over the government from deposed president Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Yet even before it’s triumph in Egypt, it used the Arab Spring to flex its muscles in other embattled states in the region, including Tunisia, Yemen and Libya.
Beginning in Tunisia in October 2011, the MB exercised overwhelming power under the auspices of the Ennhada party. The following month, the MB capitalized on the overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in Libya by holding its first public conference in support of the Party of Reform and Development, Libya’s new Islamist party. In Yemen, the MB stirred up opposition to the presidency of Ali Abdullah Saleh eventually forcing him to resign. 
And then the revolution hit Egypt, the birthplace of the Brotherhood. Egyptians eventually elected Mohammed Morsi straight from the MB’s own ranks to lead the country. 
A host of governments were adversely affected by the MB’s upsurge in confidence, including Kuwait, Algeria, Sudan, Somalia, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Jordan – to name only some. But the Brotherhood still enjoyed support from a range of countries, including Turkey and Qatar. It also garnered support from media giant Al-Jazeera and of course, Hamas in the Gaza strip. In Syria, the MB-funded Tawhid Brigade is active in resisting President Bashar al-Assad’s military onslaught.
Wherever it manifests itself – and it's not only confined to the Middle East − the MB is dedicated to the tenets set out in 1928 by its original founder, Hassan al-Banna.  Al-Banna made the following declaration: “It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet.”
In accordance with al-Banna, the MB’s official maxim is: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. And death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our ambitions.”
While the organization is defined by these grandiose aspirations, a different picture begins to emerge when it comes down to brass tactics.
Take, for example, the relationship between Egypt and Hamas, the de facto government in Gaza. When Morsi became president, the leaders of Hamas—itself an offspring of the MB--approached him with a half-baked plan to declare Gaza an independent Islamist state in its own right. But for Egypt, becoming complicit in Hamas’s continued indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli citizens was far from what the new president had in mind. 
Just one week after his meeting with Hamas's Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Morsi caused a scandal in Egypt when it was revealed that he had written to Israel’s President, Shimon Peres: "I am looking forward to exerting our best efforts to get the Middle East peace process back to its right track in order to achieve security and stability for all peoples of the region, including the Israeli people."  Not a great deal of meeting of minds there.
In spite of Morsi’s gesture, the day after he had mediated the cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians to end the recent escalation of violence, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohammed Badie was quick to denounce the peace efforts with Israel and urged holy war to liberate Palestinian territories. 
However, Morsi is cautious not to go too far—at least for the present--in the direction of extreme Islamist political action. The country is relying on a new $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund and a $6.4 billion support package from the EU, to say nothing of a hefty package of loans and grants from the US. In addition, protecting Sinai − and Egyptian soldiers therein − from the jihadist groups largely based in Gaza requires a degree of cooperation with Israel.
On the other hand, there is nothing more typical of MB tactics than Morsi’s recent grab for autocratic powers - potentially landing him with the makings of a second revolution. His recent moves demonstrate the inherent (and anti-democratic) extremism of the MB, and its long-term agenda.  Thanks in part to cradle-to-grave welfare systems funded by their boundless oil revenues, the governments of the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf Arab monarchies have not been greatly affected by the Arab spring thus far. Still, these governments view the rise of the MB on the back of the revolutionary movement with alarm. Dubai’s Chief of Police, Dhahi Khalfan, is on record as saying that the MB is fomenting an “international plot” against the Gulf States.
When the UAE’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, declared that Gulf Arab countries should work together to stop the MB plotting to undermine governments in the region, Mahmoud Hussein, the MB Secretary-General, responded, “Members of the Muslim Brotherhood respect their hosting nations, and do not call for bringing down any system of governance in the countries they live in.”
If you believe that, as the old saying goes, you believe anything.  Hussein’s statement is completely contrary to the basic underlying principles of the MB. According to the MB, concepts such as democracy and human rights are products of Jewish influence and Western decadence. Therefore, Islam must work towards restoring the lost caliphate and eventually, through violent jihad, achieve global dominance. 
A grim prospect, indeed, for the world. While it may propose to be a brotherhood, the MB is scarcely compatible with the brotherhood of man. There is little in the MB’s view of the future by way of liberty, equality or, indeed, Fraternity.
The writer is the author of “One Year in the History of Israel and Palestine” (2011) and writes the blog “A Mid-East Journal” (