Foreign Policy

Obama and the Muslim Brotherhood

President Barack Obama appears to be preparing a new outreach effort that will ask the Muslim world to reject Islamic terrorism in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death and embrace what he believes will be a new era of positive relations with the U.S. Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser at the White House told the Wall Street Journal: “It’s an interesting coincidence of timing – that (bin Laden) is killed at the same time that you have a model of change emerging in the region that is completely the opposite of bin Laden’s model.” Problem is, this emerging “model of change” will destroy any remaining credibility the U.S. may have left in the region and lead to massive destabilization throughout the Middle East and beyond. The Arab Spring may well prove to be an Arab Winter.

His outreach initiative is based on his belief that bin Ladin’s death represents a unique opportunity for Islamists to cast their swords into ploughshares, embrace democracy, and carry the torch of freedom to the Arab world – and according to DEBKAFile intelligence sources, he has selected the moderate Muslim Brotherhood (or Ikhwan in Arabic) as his partner for promoting American interests in place of their ousted rulers.

Obama advisor Bruce Riedel has suggested that the U.S. “should not be afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood” while James Clapper, Obama’s National Intelligence Director described the Ikhwan as “largely secular” and not especially extreme. This flowed from Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech where he infuriated the Mubarak regime by inviting Brotherhood members to attend, albeit the fact that the Brotherhood was then a formally banned organization under Egyptian law. By so doing, he empowered them, bolstered their status as mainstream Islamic leaders, and legitimized their extremist Islamic agenda.

The ostensible reasoning is that the Brotherhood has a legitimate role to play and deserves to be allowed to compete on the supposedly level playing fields of the marketplace of ideas, and might even temper it’s extremism. This position parallels that of leftist multi-billionaire George Soros who told the Washington Post last February that by cooperating with Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei in the latter’s bid for the Egyptian presidency, he expects the Muslim Brotherhood “to play a constructive role in a democratic political system.”

It all sounds very fair-minded and inclusive, but only the willfully naive or complicit could claim that the Brotherhood shouldn’t be taken seriously as a threat. This is a jihadist organization, the ideological cousin of Hamas, al Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the leading Arab ally of Khomeini’s Iran, and is dedicated to establishing a global Islamic caliphate under Sharia law. Its Covenant proclaims that all Palestine (including modern-day Israel) is Islamic waqf (land protected for religious purposes and forever part of the Islamic trust); that it is the duty of Muslims to wage jihad to regain possession of Palestine, and that Israel must be obliterated. It’s creed, simply stated, is: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our greatest hope.” Its core instincts arise from its jihadist Islamist belief in the obligation incumbent upon all Muslims to make Islam the dominant religion in the world.

As David Meir-Levi writes in FrontPageMagazine: “It is the oldest and among the best organized and wide-spread Islamic terrorist organizations in the world. Its program for a “cultural invasion” of Western countries, outlining a phased plan for infiltrating Western societies and governments until it has the power to escalate its activities into political and violent confrontation, has been public for more than twenty years … Why would a few Western carrots or sticks make it change its core beliefs?”

Should the Muslim Brotherhood win the Egyptian parliamentary elections in September as is expected, it will end the hope of any meaningful secular opposition in that country and lead to the same result as in Gaza following the electoral victory of Hamas – one man, one vote, one time. From a social perspective, Sharia law is medieval. It may have worked with warring tribes 1,400 years ago when religious imperialism and forced conversion were spread by the sword, but it is not acceptable in the 21st century. A Brotherhood victory would herald an Arab Winter for Egypt – complete with barbaric Islamic gender apartheid, polygamy, forced veilings, stonings, “honor killings”, lynchings, and female genital mutilations – not an Arab Spring.

Removing Arab tyrants doesn’t necessarily remove the problems in their societies. Nevertheless, Obama believes that political Islam and democratic politics are compatible with one another and that what is happening in the Arab world is a re-run of the 1989 democratic revolutions that swept through Eastern Europe. He believes that it is possible to establish European-style democracies in the Arab states, without their having to adopt Western culture or thought, and his belief in the existence of a unified Muslim world ignores the reality of 1,400 years of Muslim sectarianism. The idea of a democratic wave sweeping away centuries of autocractic rule and replacing it with Tocquevillean civic-mindedness is fantasy. As Yoram Ettinger writes in Ynet News: “Obama’s virtual reality leads him to compare the violent Arab Street to the defiance of those patriots in Boston who refused to pay taxes to a king, or the dignity of Rosa Parks as she sat courageously in her seat. Are the two million Egyptians who assembled at Cairo’s Tahrir Square cheering Sheikh Qaradawi, a top Muslim Brotherhood leader, following in the footsteps of Patrick Henry and Martin Luther King”, he asks? 1

Contrary to what we are being told in the mainstream media, what is evolving in Egypt is not a liberal democracy, but a form of populism that will translate into Islam, poverty (Al-Hayat estimates that $30B has left Egypt since the onset of the “Arab Spring”), anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. That’s because you can’t export a revolution based upon the rights of individuals to cultures that don’t believe in the supremacy of the individual over the system. Daniel Greenfield gets it right when he says that the “Arab Spring” is not an awakening against repression but a call for representative repression that reflects the cultural values and tribal affiliations of Arab societies: “The philosophical European ideas about natural rights and the virtues of self-government have not made it over there…….Muslims understand what the West has forgotten, that nations are defined by their citizens. Fill up any European country with men who believe that the laws of the Koran are absolute and binding on all, and no matter how forward thinking it might have been, it will shortly be as hopelessly backward as the places that its new citizens came from.” Cultures such as these will not pass laws based on equality. Instead their highest values will be laws that perpetuate religious and political inequality in the name of Islamic morality.

The President has yet to notice that the “Arab Spring” has no founding fathers and no change of ideas based on progressive, enlightened thought. There is no intellectual or cultural elite with a realistic reform program to lead the process of change towards a better future for the region. In fact, when one analyzes the so-called “Arab Spring”, it becomes apparent that Arab societies did not reject the slogans and values which their regimes have long used to justify their existence in power – the extinction of Israel, the need to resist Western culture, the necessity of challenging the West, and conspiracy theories that link everything with Israel and America – claims that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were “made in America”, that Osama bin Laden was really an American agent, that the Holocaust is a lie, and that Israel caused the “civil war” between Muslims and Christians in Egypt, is responsible for the sorry state of the Egyptian economy, and is engaged in reckless espionage.

The result is that there will be no ideological or social change affecting Arab society and the wider culture of governance in the region. Polls are already suggesting that the Islamic bloc in Egypt will likely win the September parliamentary elections and include Salafi jihadists who are even more extreme in their views of Islam than the Muslim Brotherhood, but this knowledge has not dampened Obama’s Western liberal messianic belief that places great faith in progressive governments and disdains tribalism – attitudes that the Islamic world does not share. In that world, only Islamic cultural imperialism backed by national power matters.

A recent Pew Research Center study shows that 85% of Egyptians believe leaving Islam (apostasy) is a capital offense punishable by death and suggests that more than 70% of Egyptians will favor the Muslim Brotherhood in the upcoming election. In the same study, 62 per cent of Egyptians said that laws should strictly follow the teachings of the Quran, and one-third sympathized with Islamic fundamentalists. While 54 per cent want to annul the three-decade-old peace treaty with Israel, only 36 per cent believe that Christians and other religious minorities should be allowed to practice their faith freely.

It is this street sentiment that will determine Arab domestic and foreign policies in the years to come. In the end, the “moderate” Islamists Obama is eagerly promoting as agents of change will engender more not less extremism and instability in an inherently unstable region. To the Islamists, he is a useful idiot just as Khomeini and the Politburo considered President Carter to be a useful idiot when the latter discarded his ally the Shah of Iran during the 1979 “democratic” Iranian Revolution that brought the Islamists to power.

If there is one conclusion to be drawn from his outreach efforts to the Muslim world since his election, it is that they have failed miserably. Iran, despite all his attempts to appease and accommodate the mullahs and (subsequently) to enforce sanctions against the country, continues to foment Middle East turmoil, backs Shiite and other dissident groups in Bahrain, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia, and is on the brink of achieving nuclear capability. The Saudis have concluded that America is a “paper tiger” and have moved into Bahrain militarily, begun to supply arms to the Syrian opposition, and are organizing a Muslim foreign legion to prevent further Iranian destabilization of the Middle East. Turkey has turned away from the U.S. and is becoming increasingly Islamic in orientation. The Palestinians have become even more intransigent and unwilling to compromise, negotiate, reduce their anti-Semitic incitement, continue to flaunt their treaty obligations with Israel, and refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Lebanon has been devoured by Hezbollah. Hamas has been legitimized by Fatah, and Syria continues to facilitate the transit of weapons and terrorists into Iraq and develop stronger bilateral ties with the Iranians while utilizing Iranian-supplied sniper rifles, tear gas, anti-riot gear, communications equipment to disrupt the internet, and the al-Quds Force and Hezbollah to murder those opposing Assad’s brutal dictatorship.

Perhaps the President believes that a bad U.S. economy, American exhaustion with its post-9/11 commitments in the Middle East, and the desire to return to the nostalgia that followed post-World War II decolonization require a dramatic change in U.S. foreign policy.

Perhaps he believes, as does his advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski – the man who suggested that the Obama Administration shoot down Israeli jets if they tried to attack Iran – that political Islam is an unstoppable force that Washington can safely ride in order to secure its Middle Eastern oil supplies, but if that is his belief, he’s wrong. In the Muslim world, concessions, appeasement, and sinking billions of dollars into hopeless Islamic hell-holes are seen as pandering and symbolize weakness and desperation. These actions are interpreted as the price America is prepared to pay in return for Muslim terrorists not attacking it. Consequently, Obama’s outreach policy to Islamists in Egypt and elsewhere not only fragments our traditional alliances, but encourages Muslim regimes to support further acts of terrorism against us to support their position.

By enslaving our foreign policy to Islamic interests, we are increasing the likelihood of another Middle East war just as European concessions to Nazism led to a global conflagration. If and when American officials finally come to understand this reality, the failure of Obama’s outreach policy will have at least provided them with a dose of reality. But that will be small consolation after we’ve lost the Middle East.


  1. For details on how the “Arab Spring” is playing itself out in Egypt, see Dr. Sherif Emil, “Waiting for an Egyptian Revolution” at

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