Thursday, January 31, 2013

Muslim Brotherhood Sets Sights on the Monarchies

By Clare M. Lopez

Flush with successful power grab victories in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is now setting its sights on bringing down additional governments across the region. The years 2011-2012 were the years when secular rulers, including Tunisia's Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, Libya's Muammar Qaddafi and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak were ousted in a wave of al-Qa'eda and Muslim Brotherhood-led uprisings actively supported by the United States (U.S.) and Western European NATO members.

Now, reports out of the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Kuwait (and elsewhere) indicate a surge of Brotherhood subversive activity that is raising alarm in monarchies concerned they could be the Brotherhood's next targets. Continuing U.S. government support for this 85-year-old Islamic jihadist organization whose objectives are openly and militantly expansionist only adds to the concern and confusion of kingdoms perhaps sensing that long-term relationships of trust with the Americans may not be quite as solid as they once were.

Abu Dhabi Foils Plot

In Abu Dhabi in mid-January 2013, prosecutors brought charges against a network of 94 Muslim Brotherhood members who allegedly sought to seize power through subversion. The UAE's Attorney General Salim Saeed Kubaish described the goals of the accused Brothers in terms perfectly aligned with classic Ikhwan (Brotherhood) doctrine, as enunciated by founder Hassan al-Banna, theoretician Sayyed Qutb and current senior jurist, Yousef al-Qaradawi:

"The organisation … announced its declared principles as being the teaching and virtues of Islam, but their undeclared aims were, in fact, to seek to seize power and the state's system of governance and to oppose the basic principles of this system."

The prosecutors in the case would appear intimately familiar with the Bylaws of the Muslim Brotherhood, as first written by al-Banna in the early 20th century and displayed at its online website, the IkhwanWeb, until mysteriously scrubbed in 2011. As Article (3)D of the bylaws instructs, "Make every effort for the establishment of educational, social, economic and scientific institutions and the establishment of mosques, schools, clinics, shelters, clubs..." Obviously aware of the Brotherhood's Modus Operandi, prosecutors in the UAE Brotherhood case

"...allege that the organsiation [sic] infiltrated societies, schools, universities, ministries and families under the pretence of doing social work to conceal their actions and "divert their loyalty to the organisation and its leadership after preparing a general climate in society to accept this by turning public opinion against all the authorities of the state".

Threatened Violence in Jordan

Unease about the long-term stability of the Jordanian monarchy likewise reflects the increasingly bold activism of the Muslim Brotherhood. As Jordan headed to general elections in mid-January 2013, the deputy leader of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, Zaki Bani Rsheid, openly threatened King Abdullah's government with "unrest and violence" while calling for an election boycott and street protests. Although Abdullah has been attempting to quell popular dissatisfaction by gradually introducing government reforms that devolve powers to the elected parliament, the Jordanian Brotherhood is riding a crest of confidence since, as Rsheid says, "We have come to power in Egypt and Tunisia."

Similarly representative of the spreading concern about the Brotherhood's ultimate aims for the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region is a late January 2013 update from Kuwait's Arab Times that warns of cooperation between Muslim Brotherhood groups in Egypt and Kuwait.

While the accuracy of the report's details cannot be verified, it is the tone of the allegations about Ikhwan Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie issuing instructions for Egyptian Brotherhood operatives to "support their colleagues in Kuwait" that hints at rising levels of alarm.

US Support for Jihadist Rebels

That alarm is hardly unrealistic. As Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser wrote in a hard-hitting January 28, 2013 article accusing the U.S. of "Arming Enemies in Egypt," the U.S. "administration has at every step of the way facilitated the ascension of a political party in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, which lives and breathes anti-Westernism and anti-freedom policies."

Jasser might have added that this is the same administration which issued a presidential intelligence finding and appointed an official liaison (Christopher Stevens) to support the Al-Qaeda-affiliated militias that ousted Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

That's the same administration which issued yet another presidential intelligence finding in 2012 as well as a special Treasury Department Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) waiver to authorize U.S. assistance for the Al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood-dominated jihadist rebels in Syria.

If prosecutors in Abu Dhabi, the Jordanian monarchy and Kuwaiti media (among many others) can all understand that the Muslim Brotherhood is "sworn to the defeat of free secular societies," as Jasser puts it, and take concrete steps to counter its expanding influence, how is it that the U.S. remains oblivious to the point of actually arming and funding our own enemies and the enemies of our MENA allies?

Succumbing to the law of unintended consequences is one thing (and failure of national security responsibility enough), but witting collaboration with jihadis who make no secret of their agenda or ideology adds needlessly and irresponsibly to the destabilization of a region already in the throes of societal upheaval.

If indeed 2013 is to be the year of the monarchies for the Muslim Brotherhood, U.S. allies and genuinely pro-democratic forces will need the leadership of an America that is knowledgeable of the Ikhwan's liberty-crushing ideology and resolved to stand against it.