I would like to draw attention of the readers to a May 29 report of Washington’s World Tribune, which said that the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the Al Qaida-aligned Salafist movement would not participate in demonstrations against the new military regime in Egypt. The division in the opposition has confirmed fears by Egyptian pro-democracy activists that the Brotherhood and Salafists have become aligned with the military regime. “Opposition sources said the two Islamic movements intend to work together to win formal power in parliamentary and presidential elections in late 2011.”
On May 27, thousands of Egyptians, many of them shouting “Where is the Brotherhood?” protested the military regime, accusing it of corruption and loyalty to Mubarak, Middle East Newsline reported. The Salafists deemed the organizers of the latest pro-democracy protests “infidels and atheists.” Some of the Salafists, who have been targeting the minority Copt community, warned that they would block renewed demonstrations. “For the sake of our country, we want to be ruled by the Army,” Salafist demonstrators chanted during a counter-protest in Cairo on May 28.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s policy of supporting the Egyptian military in its efforts to stall the democratic reform has caused a split. According to the Wall Street Journal (June 23), youth members of the country’s most powerful Islamist group would start their own secular political party. The announcement of the new party’s founding on June 21 came after the Muslim Brotherhood leadership expelled prominent reformist leader Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh. Dr. Aboul Fotouh advanced himself in May as a candidate in presidential elections scheduled for this fall, violating the Brotherhood’s pledge not to field a candidate.
It is difficult to miss the similarity of the Brotherhood’s policy towards pro-US Egyptian military with that of Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan towards military and military governments in Pakistan. Another common thread is the connections with the corrupt and pro-US Saudi Royal family. While al Qaeda leadership was expelled from Saudi Arabia, many of its prominent leaders came from the Muslim Brotherhood and also had ties with Jamaat-e-Islami. As I write this article, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Pakistan’s top leaders are visiting Egypt and met with the the top leadership of the Ikhwanul Muslimoon (Muslim Brotherhood) at headquarters in Cairo on June 22. Both the parties also decided to strengthen the relations between the Islamic movements in different countries and to negate propaganda against Islam, according to an AFP report June 23.
Opposition to secular leaders and parties can make strange bed fellows.
According to the Telegraph (March 18, 2011), an al-Qaeda leader of Libyan origin, Abu Yahya al-Libi, released a statement backing the Libyan insurrection, while Yusuf Qaradawi, the Qatar-based, Muslim Brotherhood-linked theologian issued a fatwa authorising Col Gaddafi’s military entourage to assassinate him.
According to a noted left-wing French journalist Thierry Meysson, The Sudairis (a Saudi Arabian clan led by the minister of defence Prince Sultan) have decided to launch the counter-revolution in the Arab world in all directions.
In Libya, the Sudairis transferred armed fighters into Cyrenaica pending the green light from France and Britain to start the insurrection against the government of Tripoli. “They are the ones who distributed weapons and the red-black-green star and crescent flags, symbols of the Senoussi monarchy. Their goal is to get rid of troublemaker Gaddafi and restore Prince Mohammed on the throne of what was once the United Kingdom of Libya.”
According to Thierry Meysson, the Sudaris have now imposed an alliance between the Brotherhood and pro-U.S. army officers in Egypt. This new coalition has shared power by excluding the leaders of the revolution in Tahrir Square. It refused to convene a National Assembly and contended itself with amending the constitution marginally.
The contention that the Islamic militant groups while supporting the Egyptian Army’s against secular and democratic forces are working against Syrian strongman Asad and Libya’s dictator Gaddafi is supported by reports in the Arab media as well.
According to the Daily Star of Lebanon, Hizb ut-Tahrir organized a sit-in of around 400 people against Syrian President Asad, in the Omari Mosque in Beirut on June 2.
A member of Lebanese parliament from the Arab Socialist Baath Party Assem Qanso told (June 22) a Lebanese TV network Al-Manar that “some groups were seeking sabotage in Syria, in reference to Hizb Ut-Tahrir which is holding anti-Syria demonstrations in the north. “ Those people have been prepared since a while for such incidents. They are worse than Takfiris and Salafis,” he said. “They are extremists. I know them since 1956. They have links with the English intelligence and work for the Americans.”
Curiously, a British newspaper The Telegraph had reported (October 25, 2009) that the accounts filed at the UK’s Charity Commission showed that the “Government paid a total of £113,411 (in 2008) to a foundation run by senior members and activists of Hizb ut-Tahrir — a notorious Islamic extremist group that ministers promised to ban.”
From 1986 to 1996, Hizb ut-Tahrir grew from a very small organization in Britain to one of the most active Islamic organizations in the country under the leadership of Syrian born Omar Bakri Muhammad.
India’s daily The Hindu (June 22) believes that Israel is not in favour of toppling the Assad regime. “It is not clear why. Perhaps because the alternative could be a fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood government. “On the whole, however, the western powers would welcome a change in Damascus, though its leaders have refrained from admitting it publicly; breaking the Syria-Iran axis would be a tremendous achievement.”
That might explain why the West is willing to work side by side the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafists, and Hizb ut-Tahrir. The big prize would be the overthrow of President Asad’s regime and with that the break-up of Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance that threatens American interests in the region.