A group dedicated to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within” is poised to take power in Egypt.
After days of riots in Egypt against Hosni Mubarak’s regime, on Sunday the Muslim Brotherhood entered into talks with other opposition groups to form a national unity government after the presumably imminent fall of Mubarak. The Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 in order to restore, in Egypt and worldwide, the prerogatives of political Islam: a state in which Islamic law (Sharia) is the law of the land and the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and legal equality for women and non-Muslims consequently restricted.
The Brotherhood now has its best chance in decades to seize power there and establish an Islamic state, which bodes ill for both the United States and its most reliable Middle Eastern ally, Israel. The Camp David Accords have kept an uneasy peace between Egypt and Israel since the late 1970s; although Egypt has ignored many of its provisions (particularly regarding not allowing the dissemination of bloodthirsty anti-Semitic material in Egypt, where Mein Kampf remains a bestseller), it has refrained from attacking Israel outright and has actually reined in some Palestinian jihadist activity along the Gaza border.
But the present Egyptian regime is one of the last remnants of the relatively secular Arab nationalist ideology that not too long ago held sway over most of the Middle East. Now Saddam Hussein is dead, Tunisia’s Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali has been driven from power, and the Mubarak regime could collapse at any moment; the ascendant Middle Eastern ideology is the political Islam of which the Muslim Brotherhood is a foremost exponent.
And that ideology is inveterately hostile to both Israel and the United States. Armed members of the jihad terror group Hamas, which styles itself in its Charter as the Muslim Brotherhood for Palestine, are reportedly crossing into Egypt from Gaza and attempting to join in Brotherhood activities; it’s a far cry already from the Mubarak regime’s stance toward the Palestinians.
The Muslim Brotherhood is also an international organization. According to a captured internal document made public during the trial of the Hamas-supporting Islamic charity, the Holy Land Foundation, in 2007, its goal in the United States is “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
Also involved in the national unity coalition talks was Muhammad ElBaradei, the former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who won notoriety for simultaneously downplaying the seriousness of Iran’s nuclear program and criticizing Iran for not cooperating with sanctions. The U.S., annoyed at his double game, tried unsuccessfully to block his second term as IAEA chief in 2005. ElBaradei confirmed the wisdom of this in 2009 when he declared, in an inversion of reality that would take even Orwell’s breath away and warm the heart of the most fanatically antisemitic Islamic supremacist conspiracy enthusiast, “Israel is the number one threat to the Middle East given the nuclear arms it possesses.”
Last summer, when ElBaradei floated the possibility of running for President of Egypt, the Brotherhood strongly supported his candidacy. And so now, with the prospect of a Muslim Brotherhood/ElBaradei regime in Egypt closer to reality than ever, the United States faces an ominous replay of the events in Iran in the late 1970s: an authoritarian pro-American regime was toppled by pro-democracy forces that were forthwith co-opted by Islamic supremacists who installed a fanatically anti-American Sharia regime that turned out to be far more repressive and draconian than the one that had been toppled.
As the U.S. faces the prospect of losing another ally (however undependable Egypt has been as an ally over the years) in virtually the same way, the cost of official Washington’s refusal to evaluate the global jihad threat realistically continues to mount. Inside the Beltway there have been numerous calls to engage the Brotherhood as a “moderate” group; the Mubarak regime has never entertained such comforting illusions. Perhaps if the State Department had shed them long ago and directed its copious aid to Egypt to limiting the Brotherhood’s scope and influence, we wouldn’t be in this fix now.