Saturday, January 29, 2011

The winds of change . . .

IN EGYPT, THE PRESSURE IS ON, for change and reform. One of the major players in the cluster-fuck is the Islamic Brotherhood. The IB is the best-organized and largest opposition movement, and a major consideration in Egypt's future.

Here in North America, the IB is virtually unknown. Well, the Brookings Institute's Saban Center for Middle East Policy has an article you should read, "Don't Fear Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood", by Bruce Riedel. The site has other articles worthy of your perusal, too.

The prospect of change in Egypt inevitably raises questions about the oldest and strongest opposition movement in the country, the Muslim Brotherhood, also known as Ikhwan. Can America work with an Egypt where the Ikhwan is part of a transition or even a new government?

The short answer is it is not our decision to make. Egyptians will decide the outcome, not Washington. We should not try to pick Egyptians' rulers. Every time we have done so, from Vietnam’s generals to Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, we have had buyer’s remorse. But our interests are very much involved so we have a great stake in the outcome. Understanding the Brotherhood is vital to understanding our options.

The Muslim Brethren was founded in 1928 by Shaykh Hassan al Banna as an Islamic alternative to weak secular nationalist parties that failed to secure Egypt’s freedom from British colonialism after World War I. Banna preached a fundamentalist Islamism and advocated the creation of an Islamic Egypt, but he was also open to importing techniques of political organization and propaganda from Europe that rapidly made the Brotherhood a fixture in Egyptian politics.

3 comments:

The Mound of Sound said...

I don't think any of the contenders will be forming a government anytime soon. This is essentially a revolution. The military is going to have to take over. We have to hope they can do the same job as the military did in Turkey preparing the state for a civilian succession.

The US isn't going to pick Egypt's government but that doesn't mean it won't veto any administration it thinks could destabilize the region.

Seven Star Hand said...

Stop worrying about the worst case scenarios and envision a positive outcome. There are big things afoot that most have missed. This is only the first stage of a period of rapid change that will spill out of the Middle-Eas­t and sweep the entire globe. Now to see if US leaders can stay ahead of the pace of change that threatens to engulf them as well. Hang on to your seats kiddies, this train (pace of change) is about to accelerate rapidly.

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Sixth Estate said...

I'm inclined to agree with Mound of Sound. Unfortunately, the most likely new government is still a military one. I'm still hoping otherwise, but we'll see.

The question at that point will be whether the military commits to a democratic process, or is merely interested in a change of guard at the top.