December 27, 2013

Egypt's Generals List Muslim Brotherhood As A Terror Organization; What Will Become of US-Egypt Ties?

Time Magazine declared Mohammed Morsi to be the "most important man in the Middle East" a year ago. Heading into 2014, Morsi is on lockdown in prison and his group, the Muslim Brotherhood, has been officially designated as a terrorist organization by the interim Egyptian government that is under the management of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who seized power in July on the backs of a nationwide popular revolt to prevent the complete Islamization of his country by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Morsi tried to take over a historic country with a proud identity without an army. In hindsight, it was not the brightest move. What is his party's next move, conjure a "Free Egyptian Army" out of thin air and join hands with the now defeated "Free Syrian Army"? Don't make us laugh, Morsi. The next time you think about ruling Egypt, get an army first, or, if you can't manage that, get rid of the current generals before they get rid of you again, and this time for good.

An excerpt from, "Egypt designates Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist group" by Shadia Nasralla, Reuters, December 25:
The Egyptian government intensified its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood on Wednesday, formally listing the group as a terrorist organization after accusing it of carrying out a suicide bomb attack on a police station that killed 16 people.
The move marked a major escalation in the army-backed government's campaign to suppress the Islamist movement that propelled Mohamed Mursi to the presidency 18 months ago but has been driven underground since the army toppled him in July.
Western mainstream media channels and newspapers, especially outlets like Al Jazeera America and the New York Times, are pushing the narrative that the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group is simply a power move by a repressive and out-of-touch army, but there is an extensive amount of popular support for the official categorization of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror organization. The majority of the young people in Egypt have not embraced the Muslim Brotherhood's goals and political vision for Egypt and the larger region.

From the article, "Egypt movement to US, UN: Label Brotherhood as terror group" that was published by ynetnews on July 31, 2013:
The Tamarod movement, which led the protests against deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, has demanded that the US and UN label the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror organization, like Hamas.

Tamarod, which says Hamas is the Brotherhood's armed wing, has already collected 123,000 signatures of people who support its demand. (Roi Kais)
The astute political and social observers who are leading the Egyptian army know that their repression of the radical, transnationalist, and violent Muslim Brotherhood is going over well with the average Egyptian, and even more so with politicized democratic activists who engineered the large-scale demonstrations that led to Morsi's departure from office in the summer.

But the generals are not acting responsibly in many areas, as this New York Times editorial points out, and going to war with the Muslim Brotherhood is not the wisest idea because of the group's fanatical following, its covert support from powerful foreign nations like the United States, its historical victim narrative, and its role in spreading revolutionary ideas throughout the region from Libya to Gaza to Syria and Saudi Arabia.

So far there has been no definitive reaction from Washington to the labeling of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group by the current Egyptian government. The White House is sound asleep. But experienced U.S. officials in the field are issuing warning signs, saying that the current approach towards Egypt by the White House is not sustainable and that the pace of events will eventually force the Obama administration to make some tough decisions about the nature of its relationship with the present regime.

Here is an excerpt from, "U.S. Diplomat Says Washington’s Egypt Policy Sounds “Insane”" by Sheera Frenkel, BuzzFeed, December 26:
A U.S. diplomat has said that Egypt is moving “in a direction that would not seem democratic” and that the U.S. had “no policy” on how to deal with it, following Cairo’s decision to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

“Officially our policy is to encourage the Egyptian government to stick to a democratic roadmap,” said the diplomat, who is based in the region and requested anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the press. “And yes, I know how insane that sounds considering what happened this month.”

The diplomat’s remarks came one day after Egypt’s military-backed government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, allowing for the arrest of tens of thousands of the group’s supporters. Earlier this month, Egypt passed a law providing for up to three years’ jail for unlawful protest.

“Things are changing quickly on the ground, and we are seeing Egypt move in a direction which would not seem democratic,” the diplomat said. “But at the moment, we have no change in policy, no word from the White House on how to handle this going forward. Unfortunately this has become all too common. Going forward we really have no policy.”

Last week, Egypt’s ambassador to the U.S. Mohamed Tawfik told Al-Monitor that Egypt and the U.S. were currently in a phase where “both sides are revising their concepts about the relationship.”