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Why engaging with the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t quite as simple as it seems

12 May 2013

Conventional wisdom has long suggested that we should engage pernicious groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in order to defang them. Just talk to them, it is said, and you’ll discover they’re not as bad as they seem. Proponents of this view also believe that to engage reactionaries is to control them.

Tell that to members of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who tried to engage the Muslim Brotherhood earlier this week. They invited its Secretary-General, Helmy el-Gazzar, to Washington D.C. where it was hoped he would engage in a discussion about the future of Egyptian politics. They organised his visa, booked him business class flights, and arranged for him to stay in the comfortable surroundings of the Ritz-Carlton.

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When the conference in which el-Gazzar was supposed to speak started on Thursday, he was notably absent. The Brotherhood is believed to have sent him a message to stay away, saying he had learned ‘Zionists’ would also be participating in the conference. El-Gazzar also issued a statement saying he was refusing to participate because he did not accept ‘normalisation with Israel.’ He then disappeared without saying a word to his hosts.

While el-Gazzar was being ordered to stay quiet, the Brotherhood was simultaneously sending its most senior spiritual adviser – the radical cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi – into Gaza. He repeated the usual boilerplate rhetoric of many a robed rogue vowing to ‘destroy Israel’ and ‘liberate’ Palestine. Indeed, Qaradawi praised Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and encouraged them to continue with that disastrous policy. Whatever happened to all those who praised the Brotherhood last November for its supposed statesmanship in brokering a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel?

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  • Tom Tom

    Wonder who got upset enough to remove my comments on the Mosque in Munich and CIA sponsorship of the Muslim Brotherhood ? Funny how it all disappeared

  • Dogsnob

    Who said it was simple?

    Simple-minded, more like.

  • evad666

    The failure to recognise the threat goes back to the sixteenth and seventeenth century with the establishment of the uncritical doctrine of the noble savage, which permeates University courses and The Foreign Office to this day.

    Ref ISBN 1-59102-249-5 The Myth of Islamic Tolerance ( how Islamic Law treats Non Muslims)by Robert Spencer

  • Tom Tom

    The Mosque in Munich is a book about the CIA building up the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s as a weapon against the USSR. The West built up Islam to bring down the Kabul regime BEFORE the USSR invaded. Brezhnev invaded to prop up the regime in 1979, but the reforming zeal of the Kabul regime had alienated Islam by granting women rights and “modernising”. The West simply helped Saudi money fund Pakistani ISI and created Taliban.

    They are now playing the game in the Caucasus to build gas pipelines outside Russian control from central Asia and a gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey via Syria. Of course the price will be Islamic fundamentalism on Russia’s southern border as the USA hopes to break up Russia, as it tried under Yeltsin and failed under Putin.

    This will be the start of Europe having to spend lots on weapons and slash welfare for guns as we enter a 30 year war. NIgeria looks as if it is succumbing, no wonder the USA has build a new Drone base in Niger

  • Roy

    You mean; talk with the devil?

  • margaret benjamin

    A lot of us knew it was a mistake when they got into power. Muslim Brotherhood are Islamists the worst kind, connected to Hamas in the Gaza Strip,hand in glove with Iranian clerics.
    The Coptic Christians have been persecuted with this Mursi even been crucified outside the palace. he is not someone you want to be around. When we tell people some of the muslims are dangerous its because they are. you would not argue with a rattle snake!
    The Cleric on the front page is known for his hate speech through out the Islamic world.
    He like Egyptian president Morsi call Israel sub human amongst many things and for their destruction of the Jewish state, that is why Security is paramount in Israel especially the borders.
    Catharine Ashton is being pensioned off next year, the UK does fund the Palestinians ,thing is so do lots of others.Its no wonder they have cash for weapons like Egypt.
    Trouble is Briton thinks its their job to go around telling everybody else what to do.But they don’t have the backbone to stand up to radical Islam They feel Intimidated but will take bedroom tax from the poor and infirm.

  • Hookeslaw

    ‘Conventional wisdom has long suggested’ … has it? It might be a good idea to justify the statement which is the basis for the whole article don’t you think.

    The Muslim Brotherhood exists so you have to deal with it. Should they be ignored? Did they broker a ceasefire or not? Was that a good thing or not?

    As for anything else then take them as we find them.

  • terregles2

    Just as a matter of interest which nation anywhere in the world do English people really like?

    • Colonel Mustard

      England. As it once was. Before New Labour decided the English should be ethnically cleansed in their own land. Before a load of socialist tossers thought they knew how to improve it.

      • telemachus

        Multicultural England in multi-ethnic Britain taking its place at the heart of Europe

        • AY

          multi-ethnic – no problem, but what do you mean by multicultural? does it presume unity of law? dominant culture? dominant religion? wealth redistribution? single state language?

          without specifying, your post looks like abracadabra.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Why should England be multi-cultural? It wasn’t when I was growing up and no-one asked me if I wanted it to be.

      • terregles2

        Are you saying that you only like English people?

        • Colonel Mustard


          • terregles2

            What non English nation is your favourite?

            • Colonel Mustard

              I don’t have favourites. All nations have their pros and cons, their unique characteristics, good and bad. More so before the rise of cut price tourism and American globalisation homogenised much of the world. I tend to favour those countries I keep houses in but that is a very subjective measure and largely historic rather than by choice.

    • HFC

      Just as a matter of interest which nation anywhere in the world do you really like?

      • terregles2

        I like and admire many other countries. Each time I travel I usually come back liking yet another country and its’ people
        The nationalities that I like a lot are the French the Irish the Welsh Scots and English also Canadians Germans Peruvians Mexicans and
        Chinese .
        When it comes to governments that I admire in the world I really like the Canadian and Swedish governments also the Netherlands.

        • Icebow

          Sweden seems now very much a liberal-fascist state, apparently soon to be Judenrein owing to Mohammedan persecution. As for Canada, consider merely the case of the recent controversy involving the York Regional Police’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Bureau.

  • Curnonsky

    European and American politicians assume that these ideologues are deep down just as corrupt as they are; that is, they can be counted on to quickly abandon whatever principles they espoused on their way to power. They think that the Muslim Brotherhood, upon gaining admittance to the Permanent Ruling Class, will be just as cynical as any Western party with its “cast-iron” guarantees of this or that when what really counts is grasping the power, money, prestige and influence that comes with rising to the top of the heap.

    So it is quite understandable that the Cathy Ashtons and John Kerrys of this world keep dropping heavy hints about the sacks of cash they have available to distribute if only the Brotherhood will learn to play the game, not realizing that the Brotherhood is all too aware of how Arafat and his ilk gamed the system and took the West’s money while pursuing their own hideous goals. Fanatical, yes; evil, most likely; but stupid?

    • telemachus

      As noted above you cannot call the leader of the major Arab nation fanatical or evil

      • Curnonsky

        No? Why not, if that’s what they are?

      • Colonel Mustard

        By that silly reckoning one might not call the leader of a major European nation, circa 1935, fanatical or evil. You are full of “gusto” again.

        • telemachus

          The very folk who are peddling this stupid notion(that MB are terrorists) were those most vocal in stoking the Arab Spring

          • Colonel Mustard

            And dodging again.

      • AY

        how about major German nation some 70 years ago? :)
        oh and BTW majority of egyptians do call Morsi names and hate him.

        • telemachus

          He was the third word
          Otherwise he would not have tried his luck against Stalin

      • Augustus

        But you can make some sense of the type of people you are dealing with. Islamized societies have long been stricken with intellectual paralysis and decadence, because their very doctrine formally forbids any change, any evolution, any progress. Individuals under Arab rule have only been able to contribute to the advance of civilization in so far as they did not conform to Muslim tutelage and dogma. Sharia became the immutable and unquestionable law of Islam. This was done to stop the disintegration and impending demise of Islam. Doing this ossified Islam, breaking the very impulse towards progress, hindering the evolution of society because it was enforced by the sword. Furthermore, there is always present that element of dissimulation which Islam inculcates in Muslims. It is a process of lying by omission, by playing multiple levels of meaning against whoever the Muslim deals with. This is the taqiyya which we know well, and it has made Muslims as untrustworthy today as when the caliphs and clerics first established Sharia.

        • AY

          exactly. science is impossible without trust, free inquiry, and different schools of thought. that was known since Ancient Greece. Islam is dogmatic, repressive and puts all bets on agression and deceit. bad for scientists – and therefore miserable level of achievement.

        • telemachus

          This is the most reasoned analysis analysis of Islam I have seen on a right wing blog
          You explain well why the Arab mind is susceptible to the radical message of Al Qaeda and others
          But you cannot extrapolate to a largely nationalist movement and call it terrorist and evil
          That way you do radicalise it

          • Colonel Mustard

            As a left wing mouthpiece why do you spend so much time on right wing blogs? Are you paid to be on them?

            I don’t feel the need to set myself up as heckler in residence on any left wing blogs. Yet on every right wing blog there are one or two like you, heckling in every thread, peddling your cod intellectual and moral superiority. I want to know why. Who is behind it?

            • telemachus

              If you ask Diana Holland she might point you to a section of her IT budget

              • Colonel Mustard

                So you are the paid propagandist we all suspected.

                • telemachus

                  Ask Diana

          • Augustus

            It is already radical to the core. When the Arab variant of Marxism turned out to be the totalitarian ideology of Nasserism in Egypt, and Baathism in Iraq and Syria, it followed the principle of Arab nationalism and socialism – in effect the dominance of a one party controlled state, which, of course, ruled out any opposing or dissident opinion as treason. But now Islamism, which is the joining of electoral politics with the objective of imposing Sharia-based rule under the MB, is merely another face of totalitarian politics in the Arab-Muslim world. North Africans and Arabs have simply discarded one form of failed totalitarian politics, misery and defeat, only to embrace another form of much the same or worse.

        • mountolive

          You’re right to point out that taqiyya really is central to the problems that exist between Muslims and the rest of the world. I would also add kitman to the mix.

  • Abhay

    Says the writer, ”Conventional wisdom has long suggested that we should engage pernicious groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in order to defang them.”

    I can tell you of another form of engagement – a strategic, military engagement where you defang your enemies by dealing them a crushing blow and making them sue for peace where you dictate harsh terms to them.

    No peace with the Islamist theocrats. They should face utter defeat.

    • Hookeslaw

      So where will this army come from? You want us to invade Egypt? How old are you – are you of an age for a call up?

      • Abhay

        Not that I have to answer to you – I know that you and your disembodied, feeble brain cannot engage in a discussion. So to your age / call-up query – my answer is ‘yes’.

        Repeating my argument again – the civilised, non-Islamic nations have large armies and huge resources which these mid-east theocrats do not. They are largely non-industrial and illiterate with ravaged populations.

        The West should recall its lessons from the days of cold war. These medieval Islamist theocrats should be engaged at the level of ideas, at the level of culture and military. We don’t need feeble leaders for that but we need ones who will show resolve, purpose and cultural pride.


        Hookeslaw, through no fault of their own the native people of Western Europe can only look to a violent and bloody future – courtesy of numerous politicians who must surely one day be held accountable.

        Islam is a fanatically supremacist ideology which has been at war against the West (and African, Middle-Eastern and Indian non-Muslims) for over 1,000 years.

        It has been quiet (in the West at least) for the last 300 years only because of the Western industrial revolution and our technological superiority viz weaponry.

        But now Islam needs no guns to invade our country. The invasion has been facilitated by a historically untried,unproven and unprecedented moment of madness called mass immigration and multiculturalism.

        So now we enter the period of clashing civilisations which will define the 21st century. You seem surprised that this may entail war, but what the left-liberal class of politicians and MSM has done means war is the ONLY logical outcome.

        Whether we win it is quite another matter…….

        • Colonel Mustard

          War. Yes. Civil war prompted by rising sectarian violence and terrorism. And any fool who thinks it will be governed by the Geneva convention need only look at the “Arab Spring”.

          The muppets in London have destroyed centuries of stability so that they could boast that Britain is multi-cultural (when they mean only England) and that they are not racists.

          We once had the Shire but politicians have turned it into Mordor.

    • Icebow

      Agreed. There never has been, nor ever could be, a problem to which Mohammedanism might the solution. It is the Terminator Faith, and will never give up its absolute-dominance imperative unless it is utterly crushed or dissolved. This is not racist (what race is Mohammedanism?), but rather addresses an existential threat to Western civilization. Leftists need to become sane if they wish to survive in any non-Mohammedan form.

  • Denzil Blair

    Is Helmy el-Gazzar one of those ‘moderates’ we hear so much about?

  • Span Ows

    do not speak to them…they have no interest except to do us down.

    • Abhay

      Do not speak to them…fine…but given an opportunity, militarily crush the heads of these theocratic, medieval cut-throats. Total disengagement is not an option.

      • AY

        disengagement and punishing raids are not exclusive. see above, Israel.

  • Austin Barry

    The West, or at least its ruling elite, does seem to have a death wish where Islam is concerned.

    The question is always: Why?

    What attraction does our limpid, supine, self-hating, culturally apologetic elite see in this death cult which is worthy of every excuse, of every accommodation?

    And as for engaging with the murderous Brotherhood in order to defang it, well, that is the Steve Irwin school of interaction with venomous reptiles with, in the long term, probably the same result.

    • Andy

      There is a bit of that about it. The link Alexsandr give to ‘The Islamic Republic of Dewsbury’ lays out what we, or perhaps they, have created. But of course those who so oft advocate immigration and ‘multiculturalism’ don’t usually live in places like Dewsbury, or Burnley or Bradford.

    • stonemushroom

      You have missed the most important thing, Governments do not care about religion, they do care about you being religious. As long as you are religious, you can be controlled though your religion, incited to war and other atrocities. This is why governments hate Secular and Atheist moments, because they can’t control them.

  • Alexsandr

    why engage. read this to see why. and read the comments.

  • Radford_NG

    They murdered a young English mother,her five year old daughter and the grandmother,along with a group of other tourists at the Hepshetshup(?)Temple.

  • telemachus

    A notably inflammatory post
    It might be helpful to hear reports of this spat from the other side
    There is a tendency to send into these fora from the US side true Zionists rather than conciliatory Israeli representatives

    • John McClane

      Hardly inflammatory. And certainly no more inflammatory than the comments you post on here.

      Why don’t you go and find those reports for yourself? Instead of posting yet another pointless, worthless and unnecessary comment on this blog.

      • Span Ows

        I can think of only one reason: he is paid to comment on every article, if you went into the street and spoke with thousands upon thousands of ‘normal’ people you would be hard pushed to find many that disagreed with EVERYTHING on here but this is what Tele does, as you say: pointless, worthless and unnecessary.

        • telemachus

          Now Span Ows you have declared yourself a disciple of Nicholas which largely invalidates future comments
          However if you read the article you will see it does need a little balance recognising the charged atmosphere which makes analysis of Islamic problems unbalanced in Washington
          Less so under Obama than Bush
          But still unbalanced

          • John McClane

            Unbalanced? Rather less so than your comments.

          • Span Ows

            That would be Saint Nicholas? Anyway, my comments are supreme compared to your cutting and pasting of out-of-context pieces.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          Well said, there is a village out there longing for an idiot of his quality.

          • Colonel Mustard

            telemachus is an urban creature of darkness, no simpleton from the Shire.

      • Hookeslaw

        Correct hardly inflammatory but never the less it misses the point.

        In the recent elections the Freedom and Justice Party (ie Muslim Brotherhood) won about 38% of the vote (in conjunction with 11 other parties).
        There is no monolithic block. It may evolve to be more extremist – it may not. The extremists are currently repesented by the Al-Nour Party.
        Why should Egypts political growth be any different from ours or any other modern evolved nation?

    • Russell

      Only a supporter of a political party (Labour) who encouraged these fanatical followers of Islam to move here from troublespots all over Africa and the Middle East could criticise such a bland article mentioning an extreme terrorist organisation and their refusal to engage in conversation with others..

      • telemachus

        The Muslim Brotherhood started as a religious social organization; preaching Islam, teaching the illiterate, setting up hospitals and even launching commercial enterprises. It is true that it works to unify “Islamic countries and states, mainly among the Arab states, and liberating them from foreign imperialism”.
        Does not sound much like a terrorist organisation to me

        • Dicky14

          Yeah, because they all advertise their terrorism? You’re becoming tedious.

          • telemachus

            Mohamed Morsi does not seem much like a terrorist to me

          • terregles2

            He is becoming tedious he is in good company then.

        • AY

          sharia is the form of imperialism, jihad is one of its tools, and extermination and enslavement of infidels are its declared goals and practices.
          you won’t fool anybody with your taqqiya.

          • Hookeslaw

            The sharia party in the Egypt elections was theAl-Nour Party. They got 28% of the vote.

            • AY

              whatever, – they all voted for mursi in the last tour, not for other more secular guy. sorry I’m not an expert in sorts of islamist crap. MB is known for its reactionary politics. Qaradawi is its poster boy, he is anit-Semite and advocates suicide terrorism against the West. more than enough info on MB to me, life is short.

          • Abhay

            Well said AY.

        • Span Ows

          half of your comment is cut and paste from the 3rd paragraph of Wikipedia entry; you missed the 2nd paragraph though:

          “The Brotherhood’s stated goal is to instill the Qur’an and Sunnah as the “sole reference point for …ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community … and state.”

          The organization seeks to make Muslim countries become Islamic caliphates and to isolate women and non-Muslims from public life.

          The movement is also known for engaging in political violence.

          They were responsible for creating Hamas…

          …Muslim brotherhood members are suspected to have assassinated political opponents”

        • chan chan

          No, it was started to first restore the caliphate, then Islamise or at least enslave the entire planet under Islam. It says so on their website.

    • Colonel Mustard

      And who sends you?

      • fantasy_island


  • Daniel Maris

    What is the point of these articles Maher? Anyone who has studied the Muslim Brotherhood knows precisely what they are up to. Any concessions to the Kaffir are purely tactical or at best strategic – they are certainly not born of humanitarian principle.

    • AY

      I disagree, that was good post – well written, informative and properly contextualized.

      there is certainly no news on MB here, but some news on Shiraz Maher.
      from now on I will give you benefit of doubt Shiraz.

      • Daniel Maris

        Maybe that was the intention. To date, Maher’s posts have been the weirdest hotch potch of ambiguity, ambivalence, irrelevance, demoralising observations…during which he has not once told us he doesn’t ultimately want to see Sharia triumph. A simple statement that he does not wish to see Sharia ulitmately triumph would help.

    • chan chan

      Agree 100%. The Muslim Brotherhood are as transparent as a pane of glass. They write in English, (one of their official languages it must be said, so no whining over translations) on their own website, exactly what they think, and what they are doing. There is no ambiguity. They communicate clearly. Anyone who thinks they are difficult to figure out is a fool or being disingenuous.

      The problem is that most western politicians, journalists and commentators are ignorant of Islam. Which is ridiculous considering it is so easy to understand.

      • AY

        not ignorant, rather bribed and intimidated.
        unfortunately the trident of oil money, terror, and muslim demographics was effective at least until now.

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