Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Who’s more dangerous? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The professionalism shown by Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, the chief of the Dubai Police Force, in his proficient management of Dubai’s traffic system, seems to be in complete contrast to his recent controversial remarks that have now transformed into something akin to Kalashnikov fire. As if firing bullets, Khalfan Tamim accused the US of being behind the Arab Spring revolutions, and the Muslim Brotherhood of being a more dangerous threat than Iran to the region. These words formed part of the speech which he delivered during the Gulf Cooperation Council (GGC)’s National and Regional Security Conference held recently in the Bahraini capital Manama.

Lieutenant General Khalfan Tamim is a widely respected character in the Gulf region for his integrity, professionalism and modesty. I’m not writing here to defend the subjects of the Lieutenant General’s recent accusations, nor do I deny him the right to express his opinion regarding the countries and movements he considers to be dangerous – or a source of disturbance – for his country and the Gulf states. Rather, I am making the point that a professional statesman is one who seeks to narrow the circle of opponents and hostilities around him as much as possible, rather than provoke antagonism towards a specific category of citizens in his own country, as well as those elsewhere that have contributed to the development of his country. In fact, accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of being more dangerous than Iran is tantamount to an accusation of treason against some of his own Emirati natives, and this is a serious mistake that a heavyweight Khalfan Tamim must not commit.

The Muslim Brotherhood rose to power and the parliaments of Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco through elections and the ballot boxes. They did not instigate their countries’ revolutions, nor did they hijack them. Indeed, the Brotherhood’s popularity in Egypt almost plummeted when its members agreed to attend the infamous meeting with Omar Suleiman, prior to the regime’s overthrow, which was perceived by many as an attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood to help the regime survive, if it granted sufficient reforms. The Muslim Brotherhood has remained committed to the principle of peaceful opposition from the era of Gamal Abdel Nasser to that of Hosni Mubarak, in spite of the repression, killings, prolonged imprisonment, displacement, and even when it was denied the right to establish a political party, and despite the severe restrictions placed upon it in the elections. Despite all this, the Brotherhood committed no single act of violence. In fact, because they were peaceful and patient amidst the oppression of their rulers, they soon became the opponents of extremist Islamist groups such as Takfir wal-Hijra and al-Qaeda.

Moderate Islamists in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia have gained control of the parliaments in their countries through democratic means, and in Libya, they Brotherhood was the backbone of the revolution there. Whether the Lieutenant General likes it or not, the Muslim Brotherhood has become a highly significant political entity, which he and all Arab states must coexist with it. If the pragmatism of politics dictates that countries must coexist with post-coup governments, even if they turn out to be bloodthirsty and tyrannical as with Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Hafiz al-Assad, then surely we must also act to coexist with those who come to power through the ballot boxes.

Lieutenant General Khalfan Tamim was also quoted during the same conference as saying “I will say openly that the (Brotherhood) does not wish to see our Sheikhs as rulers in the Gulf.” I hope he didn’t mean such things, as his idealistic character contradicts such harsh words. However, if he was serious, then this is a gross misjudgment that contradicts the true reality of the great majority of Islamists across the Gulf States. It was the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait that led a movement to rally around the rulers during the al-Sabah royal family’s darkest times, when it was expelled from its own country. Is there any stronger loyalty than this, when a group stands by a ruler who was expelled from his country at the hands of a dangerous and a wild neighbor like Saddam Hussein? In Saudi Arabia, when suspicious entities provoked the Saudi youth, urging them to demonstrate on the so-called Day of rage [March 11th], Islamist symbols maintained honorable stances by championing the state and its rulers, whilst warning the youths not to respond to such ill-intentioned calls, so as not to drag the country into the furnace of sedition and the pitfalls of violence. The result was a positive one when no one responded to such calls to demonstrate. Similarly, let us consider the Islamists in Bahrain, whose demands have been largely unmet, and nevertheless, they have maintained a defensive stance with the king and the government to stabilize the country and protect it against the Iranian octopus that is provoking sedition there.

So, how can such Islamists be as dangerous as Iran?