Is Washington backing the Brotherhood?

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

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For a year now there has been talk of a conspiracy that Egyptian president Mohammed Mursi’s rise to power was planned overnight in Washington. Those spreading this conspiracy based it on a report by the New York Times. The report alleges that U.S. president Barack Obama, after advising Hosni Mubarak to step down in the end of January 2011, said during a secret meeting that he would support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Of course, both the Brotherhood and their opponents claim that their rivals are a product of the Americans. The youths of Tahrir Square and the leftists accuse the White House of giving a helping hand to the Brotherhood in the elections and of wanting the Brotherhood’s return to power. In turn, the Brotherhood claims that President Barack Obama is behind the coup against it.

Stuck in the middle?

This is part of the propaganda war between the two parties sparring in Egypt. The U.S. administration says it is caught in the middle of this dispute. But it does seem to tend to take the Brotherhood’s side, requesting that the ousted Mursi be released. It also does not oppose his remaining president until the end of his presidential term, while simultaneously reminding him that democracy is not only about elections.

Washington’s stance reveals that it prefers to deal with the Brotherhood because the U.S. believes that the Islamists proved their credibility on the level of respecting international agreements since the Islamist group upheld the Camp David Accords, deterred jihadist groups in Sinai, restrained Hamas and destroyed its tunnels. This positive performance of Mursi’s cabinet was favored by the Americans who considered that their experience with the Brotherhood was the only successful one with an Islamist group in the region, compared to their failed history with the Iranian regime and Hamas. As for Turkey, the Americans do not consider it to be an Islamic regime but rather a secular one.

The Americans’ best option is to keep away from Cairo’s rebellious Squares. The Egyptians know better about their own affairs.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The problem of academic analysis in Washington is that it collects all similarities in one basket, and then confuses its analyses. Washington thinks that supporting a Sunni Mohammad Mursi in Egypt balances its support of the Shiite Nuri al-Maliki in Iraq, who like Mursi came to power through elections. This leads the American government to think that it has a balanced relation with Muslims of both sects. The problem is that the result is identical, and identically negative. Democracy in both countries, Iraq and Egypt, produced two religious fascist groups. Mursi, like Maliki, does not respect the democratic system that brought him to power.

The attempt to engineer regimes for the region by excluding the military and including religious dictators or preferring certain groups over others will not result in stability but in more tension. And above all, the plan will not succeed. Proof of that is the Americans’ sympathy with the Shiite religious opposition movement in Bahrain, which failed. Preferring Egypt’s Brotherhood will fail to bring the Brotherhood back because it will clash with local and regional disputes which the Americans don’t have enough capability to influence.

If Egyptian political parties accept the Brotherhood’s return to politics, they will place many obstructions to prevent the Brotherhood from returning to governance. Activists in Egypt believe they have granted the Brotherhood its chance. But instead of democratically practicing governance, the Brotherhood attempted to take over everything. The Brotherhood proved that it is a fascist movement that only believes in democracy as a ladder to completely seize power and not as a means towards participation and a peaceful devolution of power. The Americans’ best option is to keep away from Cairo’s rebellious Squares. The Egyptians know better about their own affairs. Whoever emerges victorious will not find an alternative for the U.S. as a strategic ally.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on July 15, 2013

Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

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