The Muslim Brotherhood and the Arab Spring uprisings

In June, the influential Egyptian military recognized Mohamed Morsi as Egypt’s new president. He is a recognized Islamist and is the one of the first elected to head an Arab state.

Even before the military’s approval, Washington pursued a new policy of engagement towards the Muslim Brotherhood in what is a likely attempt to influence rather than isolate Egypt’s new leaders. Washington likely believes that given the Brotherhood’s broad organizational membership, Cairo would not turn into a theocracy similar to Tehran so long as the U.S. remained engaged with the Brotherhood’s democratically elected officials.

Recently, several conservative media outlets (see here, here, here, and here) have published reports that Egyptian mobs, followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, have crucified opponents of President Mohammed Morsi during recent protests in Cairo.

The implication is clear that the Brotherhood and the new Egyptian government have inspired the violence, which portends Egypt’s radical Islamist future.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s official website in English has, on the other hand, condemned the violence. However, the same Brotherhood spokesmen that have censured the attacks have also said that the new government is fighting “subversion, sedition and anarchy.”

In the course of this supposed counter-revolution, police have shuttered a number of media outlets that they say were associated with the previous regime and were inciting violence. Critics claim the closed media outlets were secular news sources that did nothing more than criticize the government.

In Libya, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction party did not fare as well as expected in July’s elections. Despite the election victory of Mahmoud Jibril’s more secular National Democratic Alliance, the Brotherhood is unlikely to fold its doors but will continue to vigorously campaign for a more influential voice in the government.

In 1982 the radical elements of the Muslim Brotherhood from the west central city of Hama led a revolt against Syrian president Hafez al-Assad. The revolt failed after the Syrian military virtually destroyed the town, killing upwards of 10,000 to 25,000 of its citizens.

Soon afterwards a succession of U.S. Secretaries of State courted al-Assad, granting him a sort of legitimacy many in the Brotherhood found appalling. Al-Assad’s son is now dealing with a similar uprising. Hama has again been at the center of the fighting, where reports have surfaced of another massacre in that Sunni-dominated city.

About the author

Retiring after nearly 22 years of active duty in the Army, Lance Eldridge worked as the director of a law enforcement training academy and served as a rural patrol deputy and patrol officer in Colorado. While in the military, he held leadership positions in a variety of organizations and has written extensively about US military strategy, operations, and history. He is a graduate of the US Army's Command and General Staff College and the Norwegian Staff College. He holds a Masters Degree in History and a Masters Degree in Strategic Intelligence. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in national security strategy, European regional security, US history, and terrorism. He now works in northern Virginia.

Contact Lance Eldridge.

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