How Egypt is Stopping the Next “Syrian War”

The West’s next proxy war is being stopped before it starts in Egypt.

By Tony Cartalucci

The unprecedented sentencing of over 500 Muslim Brotherhood members to death in Egypt for their role in the attack, torture, and murder of an Egyptian policeman, is the culmination of a lighting fast, all encompassing security crackdown across the pivotal North African Arab nation. The move has created a chilling effect that has left the otherwise violent mobs of the Muslim Brotherhood silent and the streets they generally sow their chaos in, peaceful and empty.

The New York Times reported in its article, “Hundreds of Egyptians Sentenced to Death in Killing of a Police Officer,” that:

A crowd gathered outside a courthouse in the town of Matay erupted in wailing and rage on Monday when a judge sentenced 529 defendants to death in just the second session of their trial, convicting them of murdering a police officer in anger at the ouster of the Islamist president. Here in the provincial capital just a few miles away, schools shut down early, and many stayed indoors fearing a riot, residents said.

But the crowds went home, and soon the streets were quiet.

The move by the Egyptian courts has attracted the predictable condemnation of the US State Department. The Washington Post’s article, “Egyptian court sentences 529 people to death,” stated:

The United States was “deeply concerned, and I would say actually pretty shocked,” about the mass death sentences, said Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman. “It defies logic” and “certainly does not seem possible that a fair review of evidence and testimony, consistent with international standards,” could have been conducted over a two-day period, she said.

While the US continues to feign support for the government in Cairo, it was fully behind the Muslim Brotherhood-led regime of Mohamed Morsi, its mobs in the streets, and the networks of NGOs inside Egypt supporting and defending their activities.

The most recent of these NGOs on display is the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) cited by the above mentioned New York Times article which claimed:

“We have never heard of anything of this magnitude before — inside or outside of Egypt — that was within a judicial system as opposed to a mass execution,” said Karim Medhat Ennarah, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights who specializes in criminal justice.

“It is quite ridiculous,” he said, arguing that it would be impossible to prove that 500 people each played a meaningful role in the killing of a single police officer, especially after just one or two short sessions of the trial. “Clearly this is an attempt to intimidate and terrorize the opposition, and specifically the Islamist opposition, but why would the judge get so deeply involved in politics up to this point?”

EIPR is funded by among others, the Australian Embassy in Cairo, and carries out the same familiar role that other Western-funded NGOs did during the “Arab Spring” in 2011 – the covering up of the opposition’s violence and atrocities, and the leveraging of “human rights” to condemn the subsequent security crackdowns carried out in return by the state.

How Egypt Got Here 

Egypt’s current turmoil is a direct result of the 2011 so-called “Arab Spring.” While nations like Libya lie in ruins with the “revolution” a “success” and the Libyan people now subjugated by pro-Western proxies, and Syria continues to fight on in a costly 3 year conflict that has cost tens of thousands of lives, Egypt has taken a different path.

When violent mobs began inching Egypt toward violence of Libyan and Syrian proportions, the Egyptian military, who has been the primary brokers of power in Egypt for decades, bent with the winds of change. Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power and the military tolerated the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood itself into power. However, before they did so, they laid the groundwork for its eventual undoing. The military leadership bid its time patiently, waiting for the right moment to unseat the Brotherhood and swiftly shatter its networks politically and militarily. It was a masterstroke that has so far saved Egypt from the same fate suffered by other nations still burning in the chaos unleashed by the “Arab Spring.”

Egypt’s Internal Crisis is Driven by External Meddling and Interests 

In January of 2011, we were told that “spontaneous,” “indigenous”uprising had begun sweeping North Africa and the Middle East in what was called the “Arab Spring.” It would be months before the West’s media would admit that the US had been behind the uprisings and that they were anything but “spontaneous,” or “indigenous.” In an April 2011 article published by the New York Times titled, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” it was stated:

“A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington.”

The article would also add, regarding the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED):

“The Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department.”

Far from simply capitalizing or “co-opting” genuine unrest, preparations for the “Arab Spring” began as early as 2008. Egyptian activists from the now infamous April 6 movement were in New York City for the inaugural Alliance of Youth Movements (AYM) summit, also known as Movements.org.

There, they received training, networking opportunities, and support from AYM’s various corporate and US governmental sponsors, including the US State Department itself. The AYM 2008 summit report (page 3 of .pdf) states that the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, James Glassman attended, as did Jared Cohen who sits on the policy planning staff of the Office of the Secretary of State. Six other State Department staff members and advisers would also attend the summit along with an immense list of corporate, media, and institutional representatives.

Shortly afterward, April 6 would travel to Serbia to train under US-funded CANVAS, formally the US-funded NGO “Otpor” who helped overthrow the government of Serbia in 2000. Otpor, the New York Times would report, was a “well-oiled movement backed by several million dollars from the United States.” After its success it would change its name to CANVAS and begin training activists to be used in other US-backed regime change operations.

The April 6 Movement, after training with CANVAS, would return to Egypt in 2010, along with UN IAEA Chief Mohammed ElBaradei. April 6 members would even be arrested while awaiting for ElBaradei’s arrival at Cairo’s airport in mid-February. Already, ElBaradei, as early as 2010, announced his intentions of running for president in the 2011 elections. Together with April 6, Wael Ghonim of Google, and a coalition of other opposition parties, ElBaradei assembled his “National Front for Change” and began preparing for the coming “Arab Spring.”

Clearly then, the “Arab Spring” was long planned – and planned from abroad – with activists from Tunisia and Egypt on record receiving training and support from the West so that they could return home and sow unrest in a region-wide coordinated campaign.

An April 2011 AFP report would confirm this, when US State Department’s Michael Posner would admit that tens of millions of dollars had been allocated to equip and train activists 2 years ahead of the “Arab Spring.”

The Muslim Brotherhood’s role was hidden in plain site. While the Western media focused on the more presentable “pro-democracy” leaders it had trained and put at the head of the mobs in Tahrir Square, it was the Muslim Brotherhood’s large membership that filled the rest of the square. They were also responsible for launching armed attacks across Egypt leading to the “revolution’s” 800+ death toll.

Egyptians quickly became distrustful of the protest’s leadership, particularly ElBaradei who’s ties to Western interests were uncovered and led to his swift fall from influence. The protest movement lacked the political machinery to actually fill the void their movement had created. Once again, the West turned to the Muslim Brotherhood – and the Western-educated Mohamed Morsi for results.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Resurrection

The Muslim Brotherhood is a faux-theocratic sectarian extremist movement – a regional movement that transcends national borders. It is guilty sowing decades of violent discord not only in Egypt, but across the Arab World and it has remained a serious threat to secular, nationalist states from Algeria to Syria and back again.

Today, the Western press decries Egyptian and Syrian efforts to curb these sectarian extremists, particularly in Syria where the government was accused of having “massacred” armed Brotherhood militants in Hama in 1982. The constitutions of secular Arab nations across Northern Africa and the Middle East, including the rewritten Syrian Constitution, have attempted to exclude sectarian political parties, especially those with “regional” affiliations to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda affiliated political movements from ever coming into power.
And while specter of sectarian extremists taking power in Egypt or Syria may seem like an imminent threat to Western (including Israeli) interests – it in reality is a tremendous boon.

Morsi himself is by no means an “extremist” or an “Islamist.” He is a US-educated technocrat who merely posed as “hardline” in order to cultivate the fanatical support of the Brotherhood’s rank and file. Several of Morsi’s children are even US citizens.

Despite a long campaign of feigned anti-American, anti-Israeli propaganda during the Egyptian presidential run-up, the Muslim Brotherhood had joined US, European, and Israeli calls for “international” intervention in Syria. Egypt had also broken off diplomatic relations with Syria which were only restored after Morsi was finally ousted from power.

The Syrian Connection

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Syrian affiliates have been funneling weapons, cash, and foreign fighters into Syria to fight Wall Street, London, Riyadh, Doha, and Tel Aviv’s proxy war.

In Reuters ‘May 6, 2012 article titled, “Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood rise from the ashes,” it stated:

“Working quietly, the Brotherhood has been financing Free Syrian Army defectors based in Turkey and channeling money and supplies to Syria, reviving their base among small Sunni farmers and middle class Syrians, opposition sources say.”

The Muslim Brotherhood was nearing extinction in Syria before the latest unrest, and while Reuters categorically fails in its report to explain the “how” behind the Brotherhood’s resurrection, it was revealed in a 2007 New Yorker article titled, “The Redirection” by Seymour Hersh.

The Brotherhood was being directly backed by the US and Israel who were funneling support through the Saudis so as to not compromise the “credibility” of the so-called “Islamic” movement. Hersh revealed that members of the Lebanese Saad Hariri clique, then led by Fouad Siniora, had been the go-between for US planners and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Hersh reports the Lebanese Hariri faction had met Dick Cheney in Washington and relayed personally the importance of using the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria in any move against the ruling government:

“[Walid] Jumblatt then told me that he had met with Vice-President Cheney in Washington last fall to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of undermining Assad. He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be “the ones to talk to,” Jumblatt said.”

The article would continue by explaining how already in 2007, US and Saudi backing had begun benefiting the Brotherhood:

“There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefited the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.

Jumblatt said he understood that the issue was a sensitive one for the White House. “I told Cheney that some people in the Arab world, mainly the Egyptians”—whose moderate Sunni leadership has been fighting the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood for decades—“won’t like it if the United States helps the Brotherhood. But if you don’t take on Syria we will be face to face in Lebanon with Hezbollah in a long fight, and one we might not win.””

It was warned that such backing would benefit the Brotherhood as a whole, not just in Syria, and could effect public opinion even as far as in Egypt where a long battle against the hardliners was fought in order to keep Egyptian governance secular. Clearly the Brotherhood did not spontaneously rise back to power in Syria, it was resurrected by US, Israeli, and Saudi cash, weapons and directives. It was similarly resurrected in Egypt as well.

Syria’s Chaos is a Warning of Egypt’s Possible Future

Even as the world begins to reap what was sown in Syria through the intentional resurrection of the Muslim Brotherhood by the West and the extremist factions that the Brotherhood has on record facilitated, it appears that there has been no collective lesson learned by the general public, including many claiming to be “geopolitical experts.”

The same destabilization, step-by-step, is being carried out in Egypt once again through the Muslim Brotherhood. Legions of terrorists are waiting in Egypt’s Sinai region for the Brotherhood to sufficiently lay the groundwork in Egypt’s population centers so that they can be destroyed, just as has been done in Syria.  And behind it all is the West, desperately trying to dislodge the Egyptian military from power with a combination of unpalatable carrots and broken sticks.

US corporate-funded policy think tanks like the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, have expressed America’s desire to see the Egyptian military cut down to size, and removed entirely as a political power broker, just as has been done in Turkey. In fact, the West is so proud of what has been accomplished in Turkey, it refers to the removal of any independent military institution around the world and its replacement by an easily manipulated proxy regime, the “Turkish model.”

The Endowment’s post titled, “Egypt Can’t Replicate the Turkish Model: But It Can Learn From It,” best articulates this desire by stating:

In Egypt, a number of younger and more moderate Islamists have pointed to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a source of inspiration, citing legal reform, successful economic management, and electoral victories as models to be emulated. In some policy quarters, Turkey has even been presented as an overall model for the Arab world—a characterization which derives largely from its seemingly unique ability to couple secular democracy with a predominantly Muslim society.

And that:

The party has not only increased its support in secular businesses and the middle classes, but also rendered the idea of a powerful state—which commands the economy as well as the lives of Muslims through Islamic principles—an obsolete one. For the most part, the AKP has maintained the basic constitutional and institutional structure of the Turkish state, but has enacted constitutional amendments for EU harmonization and curtailed the power of the military. In other words, Islam and democracy have become compatible in Turkey under neoliberalism.

Saudi Arabia’s Al Monitor, a clearinghouse for Western political spin, states clearly in its article, “Egypt’s Second Revolution a Blow to Turkey,” that (emphasis added):

The Egyptian army considers Turkey’s Justice and Development Party to be a political rival and an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood. Moreover, the Egyptian military establishment views the Turkish model of limiting the power of Turkey’s military establishment by means of an alliance with Washington as a model that threatens the presence and interests of the Egyptian army.

Another US corporate-funded think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), cites another, older “Turkish model,” the one where the Turkish military was wielding power before being reduced in size and influence – and blames it for the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In his post, “In Egypt, the Military Adopts Turkish Model to Check Morsi,” Stephen Cook of the CFR wrote:

Shortly after the fall of Mubarak, Field Marshal Tantawi asked for a translation of Turkey’s 1982 constitution, which both endows Turkish officers with wide-ranging powers to police the political arena and curtails the power of civilian leaders.  In the June 17 decree, the military hedged against a Morsi victory by approximating the tutelary role the Turkish military enjoyed until recently.

US foreign policy think tanks and editorial columns are awash with comparisons between Egypt and Turkey and how Egypt can be transformed through the elimination of its politically influential military into a proxy state more like Turkey – a NATO member permanently bent to the will of Wall Street, London, and the European Union.

How far the West is willing and able to go in Egypt to achieve this reordering and along what path they will do it is still difficult to tell. How far they are willing to go in general can be seen in the rubble strewn streets of Syria’s smoldering, decimated cities. With the addition of the Muslim Brotherhood to the formula, and considering their role in Syria’s continued destruction, Egypt’s military-led government may be accused of using excessive force – but with Egypt many times larger than Syria in terms of population and land area, and considering the devastation and loss of life that has occurred in Syria, the alternative – appeasement, temporary accommodation, denial, or inaction – is utterly unacceptable.

The swift decisiveness with which the Egyptian military has acted against what is clearly a foreign-driven, armed, dangerous subversion of Egypt’s stability serves as a model for other nations to follow, including Thailand which is facing down the prospect of widespread terrorism carried out by extremists loyal to the US-backed, crumbling regime of Thaksin Shinawatra.

It is a model that had Syria or Libya followed, tens of thousands of lives could have been spared, and the lives of millions more left unscathed by years of bloodshed and war.


Hafez al-Assad Speech about Muslim Brotherhood (1982)

ARTICLE UPDATE: April 1, 2014

Egypt Vs. The Muslim Brotherhood – Preventing the Next Syria

The sentencing of over 500 Muslim Brotherhood members to death in Cairo – many in absentia – for their role in the attack, torture, and murder of an Egyptian policeman is the culmination of an all encompassing security crackdown across Egypt. The move has created a chilling effect that has left the otherwise violent mobs of the Muslim Brotherhood silent and the streets they generally terrorize, peaceful and empty.

The move by the Egyptian courts has attracted the predictable condemnation of the US State Department. The Washington Post’s article, “Egyptian court sentences 529 people to death,” quoted US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf as claiming the US was “deeply concerned,” and “shocked.” She also claimed that the move “defied logic.”

The move was, however, exceptionally logical.

While the US continues to feign support for the government in Cairo, it was fully behind the so-called “Arab Spring,” the Muslim Brotherhood-led regime of Mohamed Morsi that came to power in its wake, its mobs in the streets, and the networks of NGOs inside Egypt supporting and defending their activities.

How Egypt Got Here 

Egypt’s current turmoil is a direct result of the 2011 so-called “Arab Spring.” While nations like Libya lie in ruins with the “revolution” a “success” and the Libyan people now subjugated by pro-Western proxies, and Syria as it continues to fight on in a costly 3 year conflict that has cost tens of thousands of lives, Egypt has taken a different path.

When violent mobs began inching Egypt toward violence of Libyan and Syrian proportions, the Egyptian military, who has been the primary brokers of power in Egypt for decades, bent with the winds of change. Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power and the military tolerated the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood itself into power. However, before they did so, they laid the groundwork for its eventual undoing.

The military leadership bid its time patiently, waiting for the right moment to unseat the Brotherhood and swiftly shatter its networks politically and militarily. It was a masterstroke that has so far saved Egypt from the same fate suffered by other nations still burning in the chaos unleashed by the “Arab Spring.”

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Resurrection 

The Muslim Brotherhood is a faux-theocratic sectarian extremist movement – a regional movement that transcends national borders. It is guilty sowing decades of violent discord not only in Egypt, but across the Arab World and it has remained a serious threat to secular, nationalist states from Algeria to Syria and back again. It is the factor of chaos of choice by the West and its regional collaborators, who generously fund it, arm it, and provide it with a steady stream of political recognition.

Today, the Western press decries Egyptian and Syrian efforts to curb these sectarian extremists, particularly in Syria where the government was accused of having “massacred” armed Brotherhood militants in Hama in 1982. The constitutions of secular Arab nations across Northern Africa and the Middle East, including the rewritten Syrian Constitution, have attempted to exclude sectarian political parties, especially those with “regional” affiliations to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda affiliated political movements from ever coming into power.

And while specter of sectarian extremists taking power in Egypt or Syria may seem like an imminent threat to Western (including Israeli) interests – it in reality is a tremendous boon.

Despite a long campaign of feigned anti-American, anti-Israeli propaganda during the Egyptian presidential run-up, the Muslim Brotherhood had joined US, European, and Israeli calls for “international” intervention in Syria. Egypt had also broken off diplomatic relations with Syria in an attempt to further isolate the nation – however these ties wererestored almost immediately after Morsi was finally ousted from power.

The Syrian Connection 

To understand the Muslim Brotherhood’s designs in Egypt, one must first understand the Brotherhood’s role in the West’s proxy war against Syria. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Syrian affiliates have been funneling weapons, cash, and foreign fighters into Syria to fight Wall Street, London, Riyadh, Doha, and Tel Aviv’s proxy war since 2011. The Brotherhood had prepared for this role since at least as early as 2007.

In Reuters ‘May 6, 2012 article titled, “Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood rise from the ashes,” it stated:

“Working quietly, the Brotherhood has been financing Free Syrian Army defectors based in Turkey and channeling money and supplies to Syria, reviving their base among small Sunni farmers and middle class Syrians, opposition sources say.”

The Muslim Brotherhood was nearing extinction in Syria before the latest unrest, and while Reuters categorically fails in its report to explain the “how” behind the Brotherhood’s resurrection, it was revealed in a 2007 New Yorker article titled, “The Redirection” by Seymour Hersh.

The Brotherhood was being directly backed by the US and Israel who were funneling support through the Saudis so as to not compromise the “credibility” of the so-called “Islamic” movement. Hersh revealed that members of the Lebanese Saad Hariri clique, then led by Fouad Siniora, had been the go-between for US planners and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Hersh reports the Lebanese Hariri faction had met Dick Cheney in Washington and relayed personally the importance of using the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria in any move against the ruling government:

“[Walid] Jumblatt then told me that he had met with Vice-President Cheney in Washington last fall to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of undermining Assad. He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be “the ones to talk to,” Jumblatt said.”

The article would continue by explaining how already in 2007, US and Saudi backing had begun benefiting the Brotherhood:

“There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.
Jumblatt said he understood that the issue was a sensitive one for the White House. “I told Cheney that some people in the Arab world, mainly the Egyptians”—whose moderate Sunni leadership has been fighting the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood for decades—“won’t like it if the United States helps the Brotherhood. But if you don’t take on Syria we will be face to face in Lebanon with Hezbollah in a long fight, and one we might not win.”

Syria’s Chaos is a Warning of Egypt’s Possible Future 

While the US decries the recent court decision in Cairo – sentencing over 500 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death – claiming the move “defies logic,” considering what the Brotherhood laid the groundwork for in Syria, the Egyptian government has made a very logical move.  Appeasement, accommodation, and leniency were already tried both in Libya and Syria.

One must consider Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi and his release of prisoners hailing from Al Qaeda’s Libyan franchise, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in 2008. Among them was Abdel-Hakim Belhaj who upon his release would simply return to the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, raise an army of Western-armed terrorists, and go on to overthrow Qaddafi, decimate the nation, and plunge Libya into a sectarian bloodbath that is still raging to this day.

The same destabilization, step-by-step that was carried out in 2011 in Syria and Libya is now being carried out in Egypt and once again through sectarian extremist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Legions of terrorists are waiting in Egypt’s Sinai region for the Brotherhood to lay the groundwork in Egypt’s population centers so that they can be infiltrated and destroyed, just as has been done in Syria and Libya.  And behind it all is the West, desperately trying to dislodge the Egyptian military from power with a combination of unpalatable carrots and broken sticks.

The West has often expressed its desire to see the Egyptian military cut down to size, and removed entirely as a political power broker, just as has been done in Turkey. This is best articulated by Saudi Arabia’s Al Monitor, a clearinghouse for Western political spin, in its article, “Egypt’s Second Revolution a Blow to Turkey,” which states (emphasis added):

The Egyptian army considers Turkey’s Justice and Development Party to be a political rival and an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood. Moreover, the Egyptian military establishment views the Turkish model of limiting the power of Turkey’s military establishment by means of an alliance with Washington as a model that threatens the presence and interests of the Egyptian army.

Other US foreign policy think tanks and editorial columns are awash with comparisons between Egypt and Turkey and how Egypt can be transformed through the elimination of its politically influential military into a proxy state more like Turkey – a NATO member permanently bent to the will of Wall Street, London, and the European Union.

While the West attempts to portray the Egyptian government as “brutal,” it is clear the West’s designs for Egypt are nothing short of absolute brutality – the same absolute brutality that has left Libya and Syria’s cities in ruins, tens of thousands dead, and millions more either maimed, displaced, or otherwise affected by strife that has now lasted over 3 years in both nations.

The Egyptian military’s lightning fast moves to shatter the Muslim Brotherhood’s networks has for now thwarted a foreign-driven, armed, and dangerous attempt to subvert Egypt’s stability. It is a model that had Syria or Libya followed, tens of thousands of lives could have been spared, and the lives of millions more left unscathed by years of bloodshed and war.

For those who understand geopolitical developments with little hindsight and absolutely no foresight, condemning Egypt’s moves are easy. For those that remember Libya, see Syria, and can foresee Egypt with its larger population joining them in protracted armed conflict – today’s seemingly “brutal” efforts to stem the Muslim Brotherhood and the conspiracy they are playing a willful role in, are reasonable steps to prevent a much more brutal and tragic future.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

Mapping the Brotherhood

While security experts say there is a connection between the Muslim Brotherhood and the militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, violent confrontations are likely to continue between the paramilitary organisation and the state.

The militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis escalated its campaign against the army last week, carrying out two attacks in central Cairo. The first of these was in the Helmiya Al-Zeitoun district and the second at a military police checkpoint in Mostorod, which killed six conscripts. badieThe Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and khairat el shater (Photo : Ahram )

The army then carried out a successful operation against the group at its home base in the northeastern Sinai areas of Al-Toma and Al-Mahdiya, leading to the death of its field commander Tawfik Mohamed Freij, or “Abu Abdallah”.

Security forces also arrested persons who were about to plant explosive devices at the foot of high-tension electrical pylons near the outskirts of the pyramids in Giza. But another cell managed to blow up an electrical transformer in the industrial zone of Mahalla Al-Kubra.

Following Saturday’s attacks, interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahleb called an emergency cabinet session during which ministers met for five hours to discuss the mounting terrorist attacks against Egypt’s police and army.

In a statement released Saturday evening, the government announced that it would introduce more stringent precautionary measures. A government spokesman also noted that participants in the meeting had discussed the possibility of taking “extraordinary steps,” possibly signaling a return to emergency law.

Interim President Adly Mansour made a similar suggestion in an interview with a private satellite TV channel when he said that he would take any measure necessary to safeguard Egyptian lives.

For the first time, military spokesman Ahmed Ali directly accused the Muslim Brotherhood for the six soldiers’ deaths. In previous instances, Ali had directed the blame against Sinai-based militant groups. The shift was consistent with the thinking of many security experts and specialists on Islamist movements, who say there is a strong connection between the Brotherhood and Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis.

The Brotherhood developed this relationship in two phases, experts say, one involving the cementing of a relationship between it and Al-Qaeda, a connection that became closer following the army-supported overthrow of the Brotherhood government in July 2013.

Nageh Ibrahim, a founder and former leader of the Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya group, said that “historically there is a big difference between Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. But after 25 January 2011, many new factors came into play. The first is that 25 January gave the kiss of life to Al-Qaeda, which created a branch for itself in Egypt.”

“The Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda became very close, and there was an alliance and cooperation between them. Perhaps one reason for this was the kinship or in-law connection between the head of the former president [Mohamed Morsi’s] office and Ayman El-Zawahri, or between the Muslim Brothers and Mohamed El-Zawahri. There was also a phone call between Morsi and Ayman El-Zawahri in which the latter insisted on certain measures at Al-Azhar and elsewhere,” Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim continued by saying that this “was when Al-Qaeda first came to Sinai and established a place for itself there. Sinai had been isolated for three years from the rest of Egypt in terms of security, but the Muslim Brothers and Al-Qaeda’s organisational structures never intertwined. There was a convergence of interests and cooperation between the two. I believe that the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategic decision-makers made two mistakes. The first was to draw close to the [militant] groups and Al-Qaeda, and the second was to ally itself with them.”

In the second phase of the Brotherhood’s relationship with the armed groups, the relationship shifted from an alliance to a merger. According to Samir Ghattas, director of the think tank Maqdis Centre, “the strategic embrace between the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda gave rise to a degree of intertwining and co-identification in the interests of consolidating the Muslim Brotherhood in power and promoting the interests of outside parties, prime among them the US, Qatar and Turkey.”

“It began with a containment operation. The first Muslim Brotherhood initiatives in this regard, at American behest, occurred in a meeting held in Libya in 2013 and attended by Brotherhood deputy supreme guide Mohamed Ezzat, who fled the country. This initiative evolved into the creation of militia commanded by the Muslim Brotherhood or a military wing in the Sinai that was tasked with undertaking operations against the Egyptian army and police in favour of the Brotherhood.”

“Proof of this can be found in the relationship between the ousted Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi and the Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahri, which was exposed by the telephone conversation between them and in the subsequent meetings between El-Zawahri’s brother Mohamed and Morsi himself.”

Thus, there evolved a strategic relationship at a higher level than just a cooperative alliance. This manifested itself following 30 June in field operations carried out by the Al-Qaeda affiliated Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. Most of the latter organisation’s statements, in which it claimed responsibility for attacks against the army and police, said that these attacks were in retaliation for Brotherhood members killed during last year’s violent dispersal of the sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Nahda Square.

“There was also the meeting in Lahore, Pakistan, in September 2013, which crowned a number of meetings of the International Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey and which focused on ways to promote chaos in Egypt and retaliate against the army,” Ghattas said.

He mentioned five similar operations carried out by Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis in the vicinity of the Al-Salehiya Road in Ismailiya. “The only operation of these to fail did so because there was a mobile roadblock near a fixed one. This fact led to the replacement of many stationary roadblocks in inhabited areas such as Nasr City by mobile patrols.”

A former official and high-level expert in Egyptian intelligence said that “there is no doubt about the relationship between the two sides, and the field operations support this. There are about 100 members who belong to five cluster groups from these organisations. They are now the object of investigations aiming to obtain the greatest possible quantity of intelligence.”

“The huge amount of intelligence that has already been gathered has certainly contributed greatly to the success in taking out important field commanders of the organisation, such as Freij and before him Abu Soheib and others. If we were to draw a map of where the Brotherhood now stands, we would find a Brotherhood sector in the heart of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis.”

According to experts, there are currently three alignments within the Brotherhood. One is armed and directly linked to Al-Qaeda and its branch in the Sinai, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. It carries out its duties on the basis of directives from key Brotherhood leaders of Qotb-ist orientation, such as Mahmoud Ezzat and Mahmoud Hussein, who are currently at large, and their counterparts in the International Muslim Brotherhood. The latter group, the most dangerous, will sustain its confrontation against the state and reject any inclinations towards reconciliation.”

“The second alignment exists among the Muslim Brotherhood bases that have ceased their organisational activities and resigned from the organisation. They have set themselves at a distance from events and adopted a ‘wait and see’ attitude. The third group is that which seeks to re-establish the Brotherhood on a different footing on the basis of recognising the post-30 June roadmap.”

With respect to future scenarios, sources agree that violent confrontations are likely to continue between the paramilitary organisation and the state. Ghattas added that the government will eventually rout these organisations, however intense the fighting and in spite of the immense support furnished to the groups by outside parties, most notably Qatar, Turkey and Hamas in Gaza.

The other wing of this group of Muslim Brothers that is currently demonstrating in the streets will continue to do so, he said. According to Mohamed Habib, a breakaway Muslim Brotherhood leader, there are some 5,000 Brotherhood activists of this type, and estimates leaked from recent meetings of the International Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey suggest that there are two million Brotherhood members or sympathisers who may continue this form of confrontation.

Security experts attribute the latter to the “denial mentality” of the Muslim Brotherhood which in its meetings and platforms abroad has persisted in its attempts to convey the impression that the organisation still has broad grassroots support and has expanded as a result of the sympathy it gained due to the failures of the government’s policies after 30 June.

Because this segment of the Brotherhood refuses to believe that the majority of Egyptians have rejected the group and blame it for the current violence, sources rule out the possibility of reconciliation between the Brotherhood and the state. This is the case, even though some political forces have encouraged reconciliation with the Brotherhood if it were to recognise the post-3 July roadmap, issue an official apology to the Egyptian people and reverse its ideology, in addition to its members being brought to account for acts leading to bloodshed.

Mohamed Ali Bishr, a Muslim Brotherhood youth member in the organisation’s leadership ranks, said that “there are no initiatives being discussed at present and no secret communication channels” with a view to reconciliation.

He said that many of the younger Brotherhood members who have been turning to violence are no longer under the control of the organisation’s leadership – after seeing many of their colleagues wounded or killed in clashes with security forces, they have come to see their confrontation with the state as a personal feud.

Such youths also reject Brotherhood leaders who might be willing to negotiate on the grounds that such negotiations would barter away the rights of the victims at Rabaa Al-Adaweya, Bishr said. He added that few Brotherhood members wanted to see a settlement at any price in order to ensure a foothold for the Brotherhood in the political process. “When they tried to convey messages at home and abroad to this effect, they received no response from the military establishment or even from the foreign agencies that they had asked for support,” Bishr said.

Ahmed Ban, a breakaway Muslim Brotherhood leader and researcher on militant Islamist movements, said that “there is a crisis connected with the recent army statement to the effect that the Muslim Brotherhood is involved in [the violent attacks].” He rejected the notion of an organic relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. If anything, there was a mere “convergence of interests,” he said, though he acknowledged that some Brotherhood youth had turned to violence.

On the question as to whether the Brotherhood would engage in ideological revision or respond to reconciliation initiatives, Ban said that “there is division in the Muslim Brotherhood leadership on this matter. Some advocate the need for a settlement, while others believe it is too difficult.” Ban himself suggested that the best scenario would be an initiative from inside the prisons that would converge with an initiative from abroad. Only in this way could “we speak of an opening on the horizon. Without it, the government and the Brotherhood will remain in a permanent state of hostility,” he said.

Alaa Ezzeddin, director of the army’s military studies centre, said that “it would be difficult if not impossible in view of current developments and the results of all opinion polls and assessments to conduct a reconciliation process. The more realistic expectation is that the state will succeed in asserting itself by confronting terrorism and restoring the prestige of the government.”

ahram.org

 

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