Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Gulf Needs to Contain the Muslim Brotherhood | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Media ID: 55296935

In this Sunday, March 17, 2013 file photo, an Egyptian activist walks past burning tires during an anti-Muslim Brotherhood protest, in Cairo, Egypt. (AP)

As soon as the first direct commercial flight between Egypt and Iran in 34 years took off, there was renewed talk about how the Gulf States need to contain Egypt. What this meant was offering the Brotherhood financial aid to overcome their major dilemmas. Such rhetoric does not indicate political rationality; rather, it involves blatant hypocrisy.

Until recently, the Gulf states were often accused of supporting the Mubarak regime. Despite popular indignation against the former Egyptian ruler, such rhetoric continued to prevail until the eruption of the January 25 revolution. This same rhetoric was also adopted by the US administration, as demonstrated through press leaks. Today, Brotherhood supporters request that the Gulf states should financially support the Egyptian Brotherhood, under the pretext that declining to do so would push the Brotherhood into the arms of Iran. This in spite of the fact that the Brotherhood is repressing and marginalizing a considerable portion of Egyptian society, instead of resorting to pragmatic political solutions that could unify the different classes and factions in Cairo. The best description I heard of what is happening in Egypt came from an Arab prime minister, who said, “President Mursi is acting as if he came to power through a coup d’état, not through the polls.” There is sufficient evidence of this, given that Egypt’s democratic apparatuses are harassing the TV satirist Dr. Bassem Yousef over allegedly insulting the president.

Given that only a few days ago the Free Syrian Army targeted an Iranian aircraft transporting weapons to the forces of Bashar Al-Assad in order to kill Syrians, Muslim Brotherhood adherents should be condemning commercial flights between Egypt and Iran. Instead, its adherents are holding the Gulf states responsible for Egypt’s Brotherhood being in the arms of Iran’s mullahs. In fact, this is mere political hypocrisy. Admirers of Egypt should insist that the Muslim Brotherhood takes responsibility for what is happening in Egypt, instead of seeking to intimidate and exploit the Gulf states by threatening to transform Egypt into a Shi’ite or Safawi land.

The story of containment through support is not new. It was previously tested several times by the Gulf states in the region, and all attempts were a complete failure—whether in the name of Arabism or Islam. The attempts at financial and political containment were complete failures, whether by Saddam Hussein, Bashar Al-Assad, Bashir in Sudan, Saleh in Yemen, Yasser Arafat, and then Hamas, the Taliban, or Islamist groups including the Muslim Brotherhood. This was made particularly clear with the liberation of Kuwait following its occupation by Iraq. Similarly, the experience of containing and backing false resistance, especially Hezbollah in Lebanon, which even sought assistance from Turkey, was also a complete failure. So why should the Gulf states today repeat a policy that has proven to be an abject failure again and again and in different guises?

Today, Egypt’s admirers—if they are truthful—should blame the Brotherhood’s failed policies, which have put Cairo in a position whereby it is now begging for international aid. Instead of criticizing the Gulf states, they should turn their attention to the exclusionary policies that the Brotherhood is carrying out against a broad category of the Egyptian people; they must also criticize Egypt for being in the arms of Iran even as it champions the crimes Assad is committing against the Syrian people.