All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you. Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.
— President George W. Bush, Second Inaugural Address, January 20, 2005
No one can deny there are many Egyptians who are standing for their liberty. But for whom in Egypt is America standing? On one hand, President Obama states, “Now, it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that.” Yet when White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked by Jake Tapper of ABC News if the Obama Administration was concerned the Muslim Brotherhood could be elected to take over Egypt in the way Hamas was elected in the Gaza Strip, Gibbs replied, “I think it is clear that increase in democratic representation has to include a whole host of important non-secular actors that give Egypt a strong chance to continue to be the stable and reliable partner that the world sees in the Middle East.”
And who would be the most prominent of these “non-secular actors”? Surely Gibbs was attempting to make a discreet reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. Of course, this doesn’t stop President Obama from trying to downplay their importance as when he told Bill O’Reilly, “I think that the Muslim Brotherhood is one faction in Egypt. They don’t have majority support in Egypt.” But if the Muslim Brotherhood is such a marginal player, then why would Secretary of State Hillary Clinton make a point of welcoming their participation in discussions with the Egyptian government?
If the Obama Administration wants Egypt to have a more representative form of government, it is difficult to comprehend how it will be facilitated with the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood. Does the Obama Administration honestly view the Muslim Brotherhood as the future leaders of a free Egypt? Arizona Senator John McCain expressed his concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood in an interview with Der Spiegel:
I think they are a radical group that first of all supports Sharia law; that in itself is anti-democratic — at least as far as women are concerned. They have been involved with other terrorist organizations and I believe that they should be specifically excluded from any transition government.
Let’s also consider the words of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali born former Dutch parliamentarian who became the subject of death threats after writing the screenplay for the film Submission, a documentary about the plight of Muslim women. In an op-ed piece for the New York Times, Hirsi Ali states that she was at one time “an adamant member of the Muslim Brotherhood.” Contrary to President Obama’s claims that the Muslim Brotherhood is but one faction in Egypt that does not have majority support, Hirsi Ali argues that secular forces in Egypt are simply not as strong as the Muslim Brotherhood:
One reason is that they are an amalgam of very diverse elements: There are tribal leaders, free-market liberals, socialists, hard-core Marxists and human rights activists. In other words, they lack common ideological glue comparable to the one that the Brotherhood has. And there is a deep-seated fear that opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood, whose aim is to install Shariah once they come to power, will be seen by the masses as a rejection of Islam.
Above all else, the Muslim Brotherhood must be viewed as an anti-American entity. Indeed, it was only last September when the Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide Muhammad Badi’ called upon his brethren to wage jihad against the United States and Israel. After Badi’s edict, Barry Rubin, Director of Global Research in International Affairs Center, warned of an “increased internal conflict in Egypt, the start of a decade-long struggle for power in the Arabic-speaking world’s most important country.” Rubin also issued this warning for this country:
In August 1996, al-Qaida declared war on America, the West, Christians and Jews. Nobody important paid much attention to this. Almost exactly five years later, September 11 forced them to notice. Let it be said that in September 2010 the Muslim Brotherhood, a group with one hundred times more activists than al-Qaida, issued its declaration of war. What remains is the history of the future.
President Obama says he wants to Egypt to have a representative government. But if the Obama Administration chooses to stand with the Muslim Brotherhood as “an important non-secular actor,” chances are that representative government will not come to pass. There’s also a good chance Egypt could end up with a form of government that is worse than what it has right now. If that happens then there is every reason to believe we would end up with a government in Egypt that is hostile to the United States. Do we want to end up with a regime that has it sights set on our embassy in Cairo? Do we want to end up with regime that aids and abets another terrorist attack on the United States? Do we want an Egyptian regime that seeks to wage war on America?
Assuming the Obama Administration does not want such outcomes in Egypt it would be wise for it to avoid engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has yet to demonstrate any such wisdom in the Middle East.