In his statement for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appears to endorse the concept Muslim Brotherhood involvement in the Mideast political process will serve as some kind of bulwark against Al-Qaeda and other such groups. He writes:
If, over the longer term, governments take real steps to address public demands for political participation and democratic institutions—and remain committed to CT efforts—we judge that core al-Qaeda and the global jihadist movement will experience a strategic setback. Al Qaeda probably will find it difficult to compete for local support with groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that participate in the political process, provide social services, and advocate religious values. Nonviolent, pro-democracy demonstrations challenge al Qaeda’s violent jihadist ideology and might yield increased political power for secular or moderate Islamist parties.
In February 2011, author and former Wall Street Journal reporter Ian Johnson published an article titled “Washington’s Secret History with the Muslim Brotherhood” in which he reviews the history of the US relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood and should serve as a cautionary note regarding the policies implied above. The piece begins:
As US-backed strongmen around North Africa and the Middle East are being toppled or shaken by popular protests, Washington is grappling with a crucial foreign-policy issue: how to deal with the powerful but opaque Muslim Brotherhood. In Egypt, the Brotherhood has taken an increasingly forceful part in the protests, issuing a statement Thursday calling for Mubarak’s immediate resignation. And though it is far from clear what role the Brotherhood would have should Mubarak step down, the Egyptian president has been claiming it will take over. In any case, the movement is likely to be a major player in any transitional government.Journalists and pundits are already weighing in with advice on the strengths and dangers of this 83-year-old Islamist movement, whose various national branches are the most potent opposition force in virtually all of these countries. Some wonder how the Brotherhood will treat Israel, or if it really has renounced violence. Most—including the Obama administration —seem to think that it is a movement the West can do business with, even if the White House denies formal contacts.If this discussion evokes a sense of déjà vu, this is because over the past sixty years we have had it many times before, with almost identical outcomes. Since the 1950s, the United States has secretly struck up alliances with the Brotherhood or its offshoots on issues as diverse as fighting communism and calming tensions among European Muslims. And if we look to history, we can see a familiar pattern: each time, US leaders have decided that the Brotherhood could be useful and tried to bend it to America’s goals, and each time, maybe not surprisingly, the only party that clearly has benefited has been the Brotherhood.
Read the rest here.
Previous posts discussed Mr. Johnson’s book on the history of the Munich mosque and his paper for the Hudson Institute titled “The Brotherhood’s Westward Expansion” which traces the connections between the Muslim Brotherhood as it developed in Europe and the United States.