They used to be the biggest bogeyman in town, but in the run-up to Egypt's first presidential elections, the Muslim Brotherhood is looking like the safest bet to lead the turbulent country. This weekend, the Brotherhood announced its decision to run a candidate in the presidential elections—a race it previously vowed to stay out of. But surprisingly, the U.S. and its allies are not reacting to the decision with the level of opprobrium some expected. The reason is a little frightening: The alternatives to a Muslim Brotherhood candidate are much, much worse.
The first sign of this came from Israel, which on Sunday downplayed the Brotherhood's decision to enter the race. "As long as ... the Muslim Brotherhood president understands Egypt's commitments and its interests, that will preserve the peace deal," said Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon on Israel Radio. According to the Associated Press, Yaalon said maintaining the 1979 peace deal was likely to be in any Egyptian president's interest. The second sign came in a surprising statement from a State Department official to The New York Times, who said the department is "untroubled and even optimistic about the Brotherhood’s reversal of its pledge not to seek the presidency."