U.S. Army War College Professor Says Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas Are Moderates


Sherifa Zuhur, Research Professor of Islamic and Regional Studies at the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) at the U.S. Army War College, recently authored a study for SSI that labels Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood as moderates, asserting that Hamas has no interest in “global jihad.” According to the study:

HAMAS shares an acceptance of the scienti?c rational traditions of the West along with moderate Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. (The fact that both groups are castigated as highly “fundamentalist” and Taliban-like is a great irritant to HAMAS.) HAMAS accepts the legitimacy of the nation-state, as opposed to bin Ladin and Zawahiri’s emphasis on the Islamic nation. The Western training or Western-style education of most HAMAS leaders has much to do with the organization’s stances. … As a result of U.S. hostility to HAMAS, the organization increasingly regards the U.S. administration, although not the American people, as an enemy. However, HAMAS is not interested in a global jihad like al-Qa’ida, and maintains that its only foe is Israel, hoping that better communications with the United States will emerge, and recognizing that its of?cials’ inability to travel and speak with Americans have damaged its image.

This is not the first time that Dr. Zuhur has taken such a position. In February 2008, she authored an opinion piece in which she calls the Muslim Brotherhood “moderate Islamists” because they “opt for education and da’wa to promote their cause as opposed to a violent approach”:

We should consider the views of “mainstream” pious Muslims, not only those who have rejected Islam as the primary focus of their lives. Among these, we need to acknowledge that a majority in the Muslim world want to retain their identity, and in some cases serve as a positive voice for stricter observance of their faith. They may not fall in the camp who is content to relegate their identity and faith to the private sphere. They might not be able to do so, either, because of the Islamization of the region that has taken place over the last three decades. Moderate Islamists, like radicals and also many non-Islamist actors, reject Western (American and European) political dominance, and cannot but disapprove of American and European foreign policy in the Middle East today with its transformative dimension. However, they opt for education and da’wa to promote their cause as opposed to a violent approach. One symbol of their position (copied on occasion by non-Islamists like President Mubarak) is that they do not wear ties, symbols of the Western business world. The Ikhwan, or Muslim Brotherhood, is the best organized and largest element of political opposition in Egypt today.

Dr. Zuhur is one in a line of academics who have asserted that the Muslim Brotherhood and/or Hamas are moderate organizations, usually basing their arguments on the notion that the Brotherhood and Hamas reject violence and the global jihad of Al Qaeda. One of the earliest and best known of these academics was Robert Leiken who argued in an article for Foreign Affairs that the U.S. shoud change it’s policy and “engage” with the Muslim Brotherhood. However, as discussed in a previous post, an Israeli analyst summarized the differences and similarities between the Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda arguing that the distinction is one of tactics but not strategy:

The Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda differ regarding tactics but share a common strategy. Al-Qaeda favors world Islamic recruitment for a revolution made possible by terrorist attacks and an implacable jihad to destroy the economies of the Western countries and expel Western presence from Muslim regions. The Muslim Brotherhood supports terrorism and jihad against foreign presence in the Islamic world, but its top priority is constructing a Muslim infrastructure in the West that will slowly but surely enable it to rule during the 21st century. The organization’s stance is that an Al-Qaeda attack against the West at this time might hamper the Islamic movement’s buildup and focus the West on the threat implicit in Muslim communities. However, as far as the final goal is concerned, there are no policy differences between Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. The two organizations have the same objective: to place the entire world under an Islamic caliphate.

The same analyst expressed his bewilderment at why somebody would argue for collaboration with the Brotherhood given the goals of the organization:

The Muslim Brotherhood is involved in terrorism and provides religious Islamic justification for suicide bombing, terrorism, and terrorist attacks against American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jihad in all its aspects, including military, is perceived as the prime tool in the battle against the West. It is difficult to find a common set of interests for the United States and the Muslim Brotherhood, as do Leiken and Brooke. Collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood, while turning a blind eye to their intentions, both overt and hidden, is tantamount to paving the way for their “democratic” takeover of the moderate Arab regimes (similar to the bitter experience of the Legislative Council elections in the Palestinian Authority in January 2006) and for harming the United States’ most vital interests in the Middle East. It is not easy to understand why Leiken and Brooke have recommended that the American administration consider the Muslim Brotherhood a potential partner, given that the United States is its principal enemy. The organization actively seeks to destroy America’s status as a world power and to replace it with an Islamic power whose foreign policy will be based on jihad and the spread of Islam.

Many earlier posts confirm this analysis by describing the fundamentalism, religious hatred, anti-Americanism, and support for terrorism in the form of “defensive Jihad” espoused by the global Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, which shares an intimate relationship with the Brotherhood. Dr. Zuhur’s position advances no new evidence in this regard, once again seemingly ignoring all evidence to the contrary. What is different is that her position is taken from within the U.S. Army War College.

It should be noted that on Saturday, Dr. Zuhur was cited in a Saudi English language newspaper as complaining about Israeli influence on the new Obama administrating stating:

And just look at who is running the White House: Chief of Staff-designee Rahm Israel Emanuel, a dual US-Israeli citizen who served in the Israeli Army…

In fact, both assertions about Mr. Emanuel are widely repeated but wrong. Media reports indicate that he gave up his Israeli citizenship when reaching the age of majority at 18 and and in 1991 volunteered for a few weeks in a program run by the Israeli army where civilians helped the Israel Defense Force with support work on an army base.

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