When will the west pay the price for its support of political Islam in the Arab world?
Farid Zahran / December 12, 2012
History confirms that the relationship between the west and the Muslim Brotherhood is not a recent phenomenon, but rather has existed since the organisation was created. During the British Occupation, the Suez Canal Company provided financial support to Hassan Al-Banna and other local parties in an attempt to counter the influence of the Wafd, who at the time led Egypt’s national struggle for independence.
After the July 1952 revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood’s relationship with Gamal Abdel Nasser and the Free Officer’s movement deteriorated specifically as a result of the latter’s policy of non-alignment, which was hostile to western neo-colonialism.
The Muslim Brotherhood only later entered into an alliance with Anwar Sadat, after he began to sever his ties with the Soviet Union and move into the western sphere of influence. Even when the United States supported the Mubarak regime, they always maintained their affinity with political Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular.
It is no longer a secret that the west has, and continues, to support the Muslim Brotherhood’s claim to power, the only difference being that now such support is framed in the context of simply recognising a democratically elected leader chosen by his people.
As the Arabic saying goes, “if someone wants to eat shit, get him a spoon”. All the evidence points to the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood would never have been able to stay in power without the continued support of the US and other European countries.
The west’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood (particularly in recent years) has shocked many middle and upper class Egyptians who see a contradiction in the west’s purported advocacy for democracy and human rights, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s borderline fascist religious rhetoric.
Questions surrounding the west’s disposition towards the Muslim Brotherhood became more pronounced after the White House released statements saying that issues regarding the legality of President Mohamed Morsy’s constitutional declaration were an internal, Egyptian matter, and would not elicit any direct criticism from the US.
An acquaintance of mine recently spent time with a European diplomat who informed him that Europe’s position regarding the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsy would be to continue to support them due to their importance in helping to preserve regional stability in the Middle East. Morsy’s recent success in brokering a temporary cease fire between Israel and Hamas helped solidify his reputation as a capable leader who could be counted on to help de-escalate tensions in the region.
The Muslim Brotherhood has been careful to present themselves to the west as strong leaders who are not only capable of brokering ceasefires, but also being able to play politics by accepting World Bank loans after opposing the idea only months before during the Ganzuri administration. Being able to raise the price of basic goods amid a crippling recession and force the issue of the constitution and its referendum onto a people who have opposed it every step of the way demonstrates the strength of the Brotherhood and their ability to push forth their agenda regardless of the circumstances.
I am convinced that the timing of these decisions was determined by the World Bank rather than the Muslim Brotherhood, as part of a broader push by the former to implement their programme of economic reform, regardless of the interests of the Egyptian people. Naturally, the Muslim Brotherhood is confident in its ability to push forth any economic program, and so they will. They may also fear that not pushing through these reforms may make them seem weak and unable to protect the western interests in Egypt.
In the interest of protecting Israel’s security, and implementing their broader programme of economic reform, the west has once again compromised its values, ignoring Morsy’s constitutional declaration that crowns him the new dictator, putting an end to Egypt’s independent judiciary.
Why is the west so keen on implementing this programme of economic reform that will increase the burden on Egypt’s poor while opposing plans to utilise the country’s natural resources in the interest of real development, that which is rooted in strengthening Egypt’s health and education sectors? Why does the west insist with such stubbornness on supporting the propagation of Mubarak era policies that will only widen the divide between rich and poor?
Why do they refuse to support democratic organisations that have been living in a state of constant repression since 1952? Why does the west prop up the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in an attempt to ensure that Israel remains safe from Hamas’ rockets? Do they not know that Hamas represents the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, and that they are one in the same? Is Israel’s security worth sacrificing the whole of Egypt to a regime fundamentally hostile to the ideas of democracy and human rights? What is the west’s real interest in Israel and how is it more valuable than the entire Arab world? What has Israel ever done for the west?
It goes without saying that the Muslim Brotherhood is a fascist organisation that is able to govern the country and push forth its agenda in a way that Egypt’s traditional elite was unable to. The west sees fascism in Egypt as their only option, however in reality it is they who have made it so.
In this case, the west has chosen the religious wing of fascism to serve as its agent, as they are the ones most likely to support the propagation of a conservative, reactionary agenda. However the Muslim Brotherhood is also a ticking time bomb, one that could potentially explode and shatter the west’s iron grip on the region.
The west continues to think of Egypt in traditional colonial terms, and for that reason supports conservative, reactionary regimes on the condition that they help preserve the west’s strategic interests, regardless as to which particular methods of repression they choose to use. However what the west does not understand is that religious fascist organisations feed off each other, and if allowed to propagate will eventually spawn an entity that will inevitably turn its aggression towards the west itself, labelling it the Great Satan and the source of all corruption in the world.
This will all happen despite the fact that it was the west that provided them with support and enabled them to successfully rise to power. The wheeling and dealing of western financial institutions will have all been for nothing except to help contribute to the rise of an entity fundamentally hostile to them as a civilisation, rooted in the writings of Sayyid Qutb and others.
The west, and the US in particular, has already paid the price for its alliance with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, so when will it pay the price for propping up political Islam in the Arab world? I think not long, as the death of the American ambassador in Libya was just the first of many acts of retribution soon to be witnessed in the west.
However I think that it will be in Europe, with its large Muslim population ripe for recruitment by radical, Islamist organisations, where the ultimate price will be paid, rather than in the US.
However the most painful act of retribution will most likely come from the people of the region themselves, who see the west as the bankrollers of these fascist organisations who are trying to rebuild the repressive regimes of the past, only this time with a religious hue.