The GMBDW first reported in August 2014 on the formation of an Egyptian opposition group based in Turkey known as the Egyptian Revolutionary Council (ERC). According to an Al-Ahram report at the time, the group held its first press conference in Istanbul and was described as follows:
The group claims it is ‘resisting the 3 July military coup’ and battling for the ‘bread, freedom, social justice and dignity’ that was the rallying cry of the 25 January Revolution.
Speaking in the Turkish capital, the ERC said it is ‘an entity for Egyptian forces and individuals abroad … who maintain the principles of the 25 January Revolution, are faithful to constitutional legitimacy, seek a civil state and oppose all forms of corruption, tyranny and the military coup and its consequences.’
The ERC listed its goals as ‘uniting all revolutionary forces and youth, mobilising international support, realising the 25 January Revolution’s aims, dismantling corrupt institutions and establishing equal citizenship, justice, freedom and human dignity.’
The group called on foreign states to support the council against Egypt’s ‘military-backed government.’
‘The ERC is not a replacement for the NCSL,’ ERC spokesperson Maha Azzam told Qatari-based Al-Jazeera Mubasher. The NCSL operates in Egypt, while the ERC will address the international community. According to Azzam, Muslim Brothers comprise less than 20 per cent of the ERC’s members.
She said the group may take the lead in trying to refer members of the current regime to the International Criminal Court.
The report also cited Ms. Azzam as claiming that “Muslim Brothers comprise less than 20 per cent“ of the group’s members.”
At the time, we expressed our doubts, given the background of the Ms. Azzam, an associate fellow at the UK Chatham House, that characterization of the ERC could be trusted. We pointed out that she was part of a June 2006 panel event sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and titled “Engagement or Quarantine: How to Deal with the Islamist Advance.” The description of Ms. Azzam’s presentation says that she argued “as Islamism becomes more entrenched, it brings with it stronger barriers against violence.” Also participating in the Carnegie event were:
- Radwan Masmoudi, Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, a group close to both the Muslim Brotherhood and the US State Department that has long argued for bringing Islamists to power.
- Najib Ghadbian, University of Arkansas, known to be an advocate for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood
- Mark Perry, Conflicts Forum, a group whose advisory board includes Azzam Tamimi, a UK Muslim Brotherhood leader and Hamas spokesman, and Ismail Patel, head of the UK pro-Hamas Friends of Al-Aqsa,
In addition, at least one Egyptian media source referred to the ERC at the time of its founding as launched by “Muslim Brotherhood supporters” and cited Muslim Brotherhood dissident Kemal Helbawy as saying that the new council “would fail like other initiatives proposed to support the MB have failed.” We also noted at the time that recent events have shown the ever increasing importance of Turkey as a key center for the Global Muslim Brotherhood making the choice of Istanbul as a venue for the ERC launch as likely a significant factor.
Recently,, the GMBDW has discussed two events tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood that have featured the ERC. The GMBDW reported at the end of January that the US State Department had hosted an Egyptian delegation for a meeting to discuss their efforts to oppose the current government in Egypt. Various media reports identifed both ERC leader Maha Azzam and Waleed Sharaby, ERC secretary-general, as part of the delegation that also included Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood figures Gamal Heshmat and Abdel Mawgoud al-Dardery. As that post pointed out, another event was held and hosted by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) at which the Brotherhood delegation also appeared. As our profile on CSID explains, the organization was founded in 1998 in what appears to have been a cooperative effort among the US Muslim Brotherhood, the US State Department and Georgetown University academic Dr. John Esposito who served during the 1990’s as a State Department “foreign affairs analyst” and who has at least a dozen past or present affiliations with global Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas organizations. Subsequent posts discussed the controversy over who exactly was the sponsor of the delegation which turned out to be CSID.
On Tuesday, we reported on a UK conference titled “Islam And Democracy” sponsored by the Cordoba Foundation, headed by Anas Altikriti, a UK Muslim Brotherhood leader who is the son of Osama Al-Tikriti one of the leaders of the Iraqi Islamic Party representing the Muslim Brotherhood in that country. Anas Altikriti was also recently identified in an Arabic-language news report as a senior member of the International Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition to Anas Altikriti, ERC leader Maha Azzam was also scheduled as a conference speaker along with a galaxy of other individuals tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood along with their supporters.
Given the above, the GMBDW concludes that the ERC is a vehicle for supporting the return of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to government in Egypt, regardless of the composition of its members. We also conclude that given Maha Azzam’s deep ties to the Global Muslim Brotherhood, that she cannot be trusted as a reliable source on the nature of the ERC.