A German political foundation closely associated with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Project for MIddle East Democracy have issued a report based on A February 2009 panel discussion that included U.S academics, an adviser to the U.S. Institute of Peace, and a Deputy leader of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. According to the report:
… the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) partnered to bring together scholars and experts from the Middle East, the United States, and Europe. Moderated by Nathan Brown, Director of George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies, guests discussed the topic “Strategies for Engaging Political Islam: A Middle East, U.S. and EU ‘Trialogue.’” Panelists included Ruheil Gharaibeh, Deputy Secretary-General of Jordan’s IAF; Mona Yacoubian, Special Adviser to the Muslim World Initiative at the United States Institute of Peace; Zoé Nautré, Visiting Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations; and Shadi Hamid, research director at POMED and Hewlett Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. This paper draws on the observations and recommendations of the participants.
The report concludes by suggesting that the U.S. and the EU “begin developing a common line on groups that are nonviolent and committed to the democratic process.”:
The U.S. and EU are likely to differ in some respects with regard to strategies for engaging political Islam in the coming years. Zoé Nautré, comments that “[Euro- pean] engagement is more about observing, it’s about gaining knowledge…the U.S. has been perceived as pushing for something, as having a clear agenda.”36 Successive American administrations have been committed, at least rhetorically, to supporting democracy in the Middle East. Those in the Washington policy community, who tend to see authoritarian systems as inherently transient, are more likely to see engaging Islamists as a way to either promote democratic reform or to have an “insurance policy” in case Islamists come to power. Nonetheless, the U.S. and EU can begin developing a common line on groups that are nonviolent and committed to the democratic process. This may simply mean, initially, supporting in principle the right of Islamists to peacefully participate in political life and more consistently condemning human rights abuses against Islamists and secularists alike. In addition, they can integrate Islamist political and civil society groups in their existing Middle East programming, such as MEPI and the ENP. From there, individual governments will likely adopt varying strategies based on domestic contexts, regional interests, and strategic objectives.
The report also reveals that in February 2009, as part of the event referenced above, the IAF (Islamic Action Front) Deputy leader had spent a week in Washington, DC “where he met with leading academics, researchers, and other members of the policy community.”
The IAF is generally considered to be the political wing of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. The current leader of the IAF is Secretary-General Ishaq Farhan a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, one of the three founders of the IAF, and a former education minister and senator. Mr. Farhan is also listed as a director of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), founded in the U.S. in 1980 by important members of the Global Muslim Brotherhood who wished to promote the “Islamization of Knowledge.” IIIT was associated with the now defunct SAAR Foundation, a network of Islamic organizations located in Northern Virginia that was raided by the Federal government in March 2002 in connection with the financing of terrorism. In 2000, Mr. Farhan was denied entry to the U.S. after having had his visa revoked in the prior year without informing him. The New York Times reported at that time that unidentified American diplomats called Mr. Farhan a “moderating force” and that he “as kept a distance from the vociferous opposition to peaceful relations with Israel.” However, in 2003 a media report said that the IAF had “declared a jihad in favor of Iraq and Palestine if the US attacks Iraq.”
Previous posts have discussed the support for Hamas provided by the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood.