The Muslim Brotherhood, Ctd

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by Patrick Appel

Daniel Levy gauges the Israeli reaction to Egypt. Levy's view of the Muslim Brotherhood:

Nathan Brown, an expert on Islamist parties, has warned against US policymakers being misled by a tendency towards "Ikwanophobia" (ikwan is Arabic for the Muslim Brothers' movement). One cannot support participatory democratic politics in the Arab world while being totally allergic to the role that democratic Islamists will play. These movements are part of the legitimate political mix. They are more often than not at loggerheads with Al Qaeda, and far from being Al Qaeda-lite, they are frequently the most effective bulwark against Al Qaeda-style extremism. 

Goldblog puts the Muslim Brotherhood in a less flattering light. Salon has an illuminating interview with Nathan Brown about the organization. It should be read in full, but here is one section on Israel and the United States:

They're clearly suspicious of the United States, and you'll hear some anti-American slogans from them -- but no more so than from any other place in the Egyptian political spectrum. They don't stand out there, and there are probably more anti-American people in the committee of opposition leaders.

With regard to Israel it's a little bit different. Israel is unpopular in Egypt. And the Brotherhood since the 1930s has a very strong history of backing the Palestinian cause. They are critics of the Camp David accords and the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Those are all popular stands. That said, no one in Egypt wants a war with Israel right now. So the Brotherhood tries to finesse this by saying, 'This treaty really needs to be put up for a referendum." If they were in the government, I think they would be in an embarrassing position. This is an international treaty that was ratified -- are you willing to abide by the state of Egypt's international treaty obligations or not?

If it was a broad-based coalition government in which the majority clearly favored maintaining the current peace treaty, I think the Brotherhood would say: "We don't like this, we're not in favor it. But we're willing to accept the results of a legitimate political process." That's my guess.

Earlier commentary here.

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