The Mortal Combat in the Land of Pharaohs
The run-off presidential election took place on June 16-17. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq, the presidential hopeful representing the military and the last prime minister of the Hosni Mubarak regime, came to clash in a decisive grapple. The name of the winner is to become public on June 21.
Perhaps even a more significant event took place a week before the date: the Egypt’s Supreme Court annulled the parliamentary election results recognizing the parliament as illegal. According to the Court’s decision the parliament, where the Islamists have 70% of seats, is to be dissolved. Before that the Political Isolation Law forbidding former high standing officials to hold political office had been reversed to make General Ahmed Shafiq a legal runner in the run-off presidential election. Preceding the reversal decision another law had been passed making legal the arrests of civilians by military police. As a result the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has concentrated all power – executive, legislative and judicial – in its hands.
Meanwhile speaking at the Atlantic Council before the parliamentary elections in Egypt in January this year, William B. Taylor, the Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions at the US State Department, warned the Egyptian military not to stage “a military coup” emphasizing the USA would calmly accept the Muslim Brothers victory. A confidential accord on the US government support of their activities was reached in November 2011 in Frankfurt between the CIA team led by the director David Petraeus and representatives of the Muslim Brothers leadership. At the beginning of January 2012 William Burns, Deputy Secretary of State, met Mohamed Morsi in the capacity of Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party, a political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. The US ruling circles have already made a bet on the Brothers. It is revealing that before the first round of Egyptian presidential elections the articles singing praises to the Muslim Brothers had appeared in the US media. For instance, the New York Times wrote that the US officials expressed cautious optimism regarding the Muslim Brothers candidate’s presidential bid. In April the same newspaper wrote the Obama administration had begun to reverse decades of mistrust and hostility towards the Muslim Brothers. More or less by the same time a Muslim Brothers team went to Washington to visit the White House and hold talks with the US National Security Council, as well as senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, a senior member of the Armed Services Committee.
The Muslim Brotherhood is a network type structure, an international Islamist organization, including the HAMAS in Palestine and the Jordan’s Islamic Action Front among others. It has branches in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan and even Central Asian states like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Its offices represent the organization in 30 countries of the world. It is recognized as a terrorist organization in Russia and many other states. The Brothers fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s, as well as contemporary Russia in Chechnya and Dagestan. In 2011 the Muslim Brotherhood took an active part in toppling Muammar Gaddafi. It has an official office in Europe, in particular in Great Britain; the country that has become a safe haven for many international terrorists, the Muslim Brothers is not designated as a terrorist organization there.
Structured along the lines of secret mason societies (it serves the purpose to remember the main slogan of the 1789-1799 French Revolution – Liberty, Equality, Fraternity) the Muslim Brotherhood’s ties with British and American secret services go back to 1928. According to Stephen Dorril, the author of the book titled MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service, the British intelligence managed to establish close contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood as far in the past as the 1920-30s. After the Second World War the CIA took over but in no way it meant the contacts with the British were curtailed. Quite to the contrary, the Brotherhood’s ties with the CIA and MI-6 strengthened as Gamal Abdel Nasser came to power in 1954. The Middle East Anglo-Saxon allies – Saudi Arabia and Jordan – rendered financial support and gave refuge to the Brothers. According to Jan Johnson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, a new wave of interest to the Muslim Brotherhood was sparked among the US military and political circles after the Soviet troops entered Afghanistan in 1979.
After 1991 the Muslim Brothers receded into the background. Starting from 2004 the Bush, Jr. administration neocons keen on reshaping the map of Greater Middle East needed them again. As we can see the change of president in the White House preserved intact the goal of building the Greater Middle East. No surprise taking into account that the George Bush, Jr foreign policy team members responsible for the strategy of rapprochement with the Muslim Brothers hold positions in the structure of Obama administration.
The weakening of China is the prime US foreign policy priority in the near future, any methods would serve the purpose. The main efforts will be concentrated on extending the US presence in the Asia-Pacific. That’s why the United States is going to gradually pull out of the Middle East. But the US ruling political circles don’t want to leave it alone out of fear that China, while intensifying the efforts to boost its clout in the region, will quickly fill the void.
If the aim of the USA is to fill the vacuum of political influence at the regional level, there is no better instrument than the Muslim Brothers. Right now they are vigorously fighting the Assad regime in Syria that is implementing the US plans to create the Greater Middle East. As the World Tribune says the Barack Obama administration decided it’s the Muslim Brotherhood who should come to power in Syria after the Bashar Assad’s government is toppled. As far back as July 2011 US State Secretary Hillary Clinton met the Muslim Brothers in Syria and called on them to closely cooperate with Turkey for the purpose of eliminating the Assad rule.
This Islamist organization is “assigned” by the present US administration to be a “democratic opposition” to Assad. Herbert London, the former Hudson Institute President and President Emeritus of this Anglo-Saxon think tank, in his book called U.S. Betrays Syria’s Opposition emphasized the Barack Obama decided to rely on Turkey and Muslim Brothers while creating a post-Assad Syrian government.
Actually the radical Brothers presence serves the interests of Washington to make the Middle East region more “dynamic”. The Egyptian military regime headed by Mubarak was no good for the purpose, it “softened” too much and stopped being a major regional strike force. The toppled Mubarak resolutely opposed the US Iran policy. He didn’t support the US efforts to curtail the Iranian nuclear program and refused to support the Obama’s stance on Syria and Lebanon. Besides Mubarak was friendly with Muammar Gaddafi and couldn’t stay aside while the US was toppling the head of neighboring state that Cairo had good relations with.
It’s absolutely clear that, at least, a part of US political elite strives to make the Middle East plunge into a protracted wide-scale war in the times of world economic crisis. The goal is to solve its own problems and direct the public attention in the West from the problem of living standards and quality of life going down because it’s impossible to preserve the “consumer society” in the same shape as previously anymore.
A protracted Middle East war would give an impetus to the prosperity of the US military industry – then the US military corporations, that traditionally exert significant influence over Washington, could sell weapons to the belligerents. In its turn the USA could become a mediator at peace talks strengthening its positions in the region.
Trying to achieve the goal of creating an Arab Caliphate based on the Sharia law “from Spain to Indonesia” the Muslim Brothers play the spare fuse role in the US led game of exacerbating the Middle East situation. In an interview to Iranian English language news agency Al-Alam, Mohamed Ghanem, one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, said the Egyptians should start preparing for the war with Israel. He said the Suez Canal is needed to be closed and gas deliveries from Egypt to Israel seized.
The Muslim Brothers coming to power in Egypt would result in turning it against Russia and China. The North Caucasus, Transcaucasia, Central Asia and Chinese Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region would become the radical Islamists targets. The Syrian Muslim Brothers branch has already called Russia, China and Iran “accomplices to murders” of Syrian civilians, accusing them of rendering political support and delivering arms to the regime of Bashar Assad. It clearly displays the political orientation of the Brothers and shows who gives them “orders”.
It won’t be easy for them to strengthen their positions in Egypt – the armed forces stand in the way, all power in the country concentrated in their hands. Right now Egypt is ready for a real mortal clash, its outcome is impossible to predict. On the one hand, the Muslim Brothers are out in the open and have a chance to “press” the military making the Egyptian revolution go the “second round”. The Brothers realize the Americans rely on them and they will try to do their best to justify the Washington’s trust. On the other hand the Egyptian military is able to repeat the “Algerian scenario”. In 1991 an Islamic party called the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria won parliamentary elections in Algiers but the country’s armed forces had no wish to see them holding power. The election results were annulled. It led to a protracted civil conflict with numerous victims but the public forces that supported the military finally took the upper hand. One way or another, the presidential elections in Egypt is not an end, but rather a start of it all.