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The Muslim Brotherhood’s Initiative as a Reform Program

Sayed Mahmoud Al-Qumni
On March 3, 2004, Mr. Mahdi Akef, the leader and guide of the Muslim Brotherhood launched the Brotherhood’s Initiative to Participate in Awaited Democratic Reform, presenting the Brotherhood as a political faction that deems itself competent to participate. The Brotherhood presented itselfnaturallyin the best possible light, which is everyone’s right. And on May 8, 2004, dr. Essam Aryan, a Brotherhood luminary well known due to his appearances on the local Egyptian satellite station, Dream TV, said this initiative is a comprehensive, complete program for soon converting the Brotherhood into a political party.
democràcia, in its liberal sense, means rule by the people, legislating laws for themselves according to their conditions. It doesn’t just mean elections. More importantly, and to lay the foundations for elections, democracy is a pluralistic political system that guarantees citizenspublic and private freedoms, especially freedom of expression and opinion. It also guarantees their human rights, especially freedom of religion. These are absolute freedoms, without any limitation or monitoring. The democratic system allows peaceful change of power in society and is based on a separation of powers. The judicial branch, especially, must be totally independent. Democracies adopt the free market economy that is based on competition, and that encourages individual initiatives. Democracies are based on channels of dialgoue and peaceful understanding among citizens. In dealing with local and international conflicts, they avoid military options as much as possible. Along with those who believe in democracy, it confronts the mentality of terrorism and violent fundamentalist dogmatism. Democracies oppose absolutist ideas that claim to own the absolute truth, and defend relativistic and pluralistic principles. By doing so, they provide all religions the right to be active safely, except opinions that aim to confiscate freedoms or impose themselves on other parties by force or violence. So democracies are concerned with freeing religion from the monopoly of one interpretation or one sect.
In summary, democracy is a group of regulatory and legal measures for society that humankind has reached after a long history of conflict to refine authorities where religious figures cannot impose their will. Religious authorities were disengaged from the
authorities of the state, to guarantee the state’s neutrality toward all religions. This is what allows for freedom of religion and opinion, and freedom of worship for all in total freedom and equality. This prevents conflict in the name of religion, which leads to the security of the state and its citizens.

On March 3, 2004, Mr. Mahdi Akef, the leader and guide of the Muslim Brotherhood launched the Brotherhood’s Initiative to Participate in Awaited Democratic Reform, presenting the Brotherhood as a political faction that deems itself competent to participate. The Brotherhood presented itselfnaturallyin the best possible light, which is everyone’s right. And on May 8, 2004, dr. Essam Aryan, a Brotherhood luminary well known due to his appearances on the local Egyptian satellite station, Dream TV, said this initiative is a comprehensive, complete program for soon converting the Brotherhood into a political party.Democracy, in its liberal sense, means rule by the people, legislating laws for themselves according to their conditions. It doesn’t just mean elections. More importantly, and to lay the foundations for elections, democracy is a pluralistic political system that guarantees citizenspublic and private freedoms, especially freedom of expression and opinion. It also guarantees their human rights, especially freedom of religion. These are absolute freedoms, without any limitation or monitoring. The democratic system allows peaceful change of power in society and is based on a separation of powers. The judicial branch, especially, must be totally independent. Democracies adopt the free market economy that is based on competition, and that encourages individual initiatives. Democracies are based on channels of dialgoue and peaceful understanding among citizens. In dealing with local and international conflicts, they avoid military options as much as possible. Along with those who believe in democracy, it confronts the mentality of terrorism and violent fundamentalist dogmatism. Democracies oppose absolutist ideas that claim to own the absolute truth, and defend relativistic and pluralistic principles. By doing so, they provide all religions the right to be active safely, except opinions that aim to confiscate freedoms or impose themselves on other parties by force or violence. So democracies are concerned with freeing religion from the monopoly of one interpretation or one sect.In summary, democracy is a group of regulatory and legal measures for society that humankind has reached after a long history of conflict to refine authorities where religious figures cannot impose their will. Religious authorities were disengaged from theauthorities of the state, to guarantee the state’s neutrality toward all religions. This is what allows for freedom of religion and opinion, and freedom of worship for all in total freedom and equality. This prevents conflict in the name of religion, which leads to the security of the state and its citizens.

Moviments terroristes i extremistes a l'Orient Mitjà

Antoni H. Cordesman

El terrorisme i la guerra asimètrica no són gaire novetats en l'equilibri militar de l'Orient Mitjà, i islàmica
l'extremisme no és l'única font de violència extremista. Hi ha moltes diferències ètniques i sectàries greus
a l'Orient Mitjà, i això fa temps que ha provocat violència esporàdica dins d'estats determinats, i de vegades a major civil
conflictes. Les guerres civils al Iemen i la rebel·lió de Dhofar a Oman en són exemples, com ho són la llarga història civil
guerra al Líban i la repressió violenta de Síria dels grups polítics islàmics que s'oposaven al règim de Hafez al-
Assad. El creixent poder de l'Organització per l'Alliberament de Palestina (PLO) va provocar una guerra civil a Jordània al setembre
1970. La revolució iraniana a 1979 va ser seguit per greus combats polítics, i un esforç per exportar un teocràtic
revolució que va ajudar a desencadenar la guerra Iran-Iraq. Bahrain i l'Aràbia Saudita han tingut enfrontaments civils entre ells
Elits governants sunnites i xiïtes hostils i aquests enfrontaments van provocar una violència important en el cas de l'Aràbia Saudita.
També allà, malgrat això, ha estat una llarga història d'extremisme islàmic violent a la regió, de vegades animat per
règims que després es van convertir en l'objectiu dels mateixos islamistes als quals van donar suport inicialment. Sadat va intentar utilitzar l'islàmic
moviments com a contrari a la seva oposició secular a Egipte només per ser assassinat per un d'aquests moviments després del seu
acord de pau amb Israel. Israel va pensar que era segur patrocinar moviments islàmics després 1967 com a contraposició a la
PLO, només per veure la ràpida aparició de grups violentament antiisraelians. El nord i el sud del Iemen van ser l'escenari
cops d'estat i guerres civils des de principis dels anys 60, i va ser una guerra civil al Iemen del Sud la que finalment va provocar el col·lapse
del seu règim i la seva fusió amb el Iemen del Nord a 1990.
La caiguda del xa va provocar una presa de poder islamista a l'Iran, i es va desencadenar la resistència a la invasió soviètica de l'Afganistan
una reacció islamista que encara influeix a l'Orient Mitjà i a tot el món islàmic. Aràbia Saudita va haver de fer front
un aixecament a la Gran Mesquita de la Meca 1979. El caràcter religiós d'aquest aixecament compartia molts elements
dels moviments sorgits després de la retirada soviètica de l'Afganistan i la Guerra del Golf a 1991.
Els esforços algerians per reprimir la victòria dels partits polítics islàmics en unes eleccions democràtiques 1992 van ser seguits per
una guerra civil que ha durat des de llavors. Egipte va lliurar una batalla llarga i molt reeixida amb el seu propi islàmic
extremistes als anys noranta, però Egipte només ha aconseguit suprimir aquests moviments en lloc d'eradicar-los
ells. A la resta del món àrab, les guerres civils a Kosovo i Bòsnia van ajudar a crear nous quadres extremistes islàmics.
L'Aràbia Saudita va patir dos atacs terroristes importants abans 2001. Aquests atacs van afectar una Guàrdia Nacional
Centre d'entrenament i caserna de la USAF a Al Khobar, i almenys un sembla haver estat fruit de l'islàmica
extremistes. Marroc, Líbia, Tunísia, Jordània, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, i el Iemen han vist tots els islamistes de línia dura
moviments esdevenen una seriosa amenaça nacional.
Tot i que no forma part directament de la regió, el Sudan ha lluitat una guerra civil de 15 anys que probablement ha costat més de dos
milions de vides, i aquesta guerra havia estat recolzada per elements islamistes de línia dura al nord àrab. Somàlia també ho ha fet
des d'aleshores ha estat escenari d'una guerra civil 1991 que ha permès a les cèl·lules islamistes operar en aquell país.a

El terrorisme i la guerra asimètrica no són gaire novetats en l'equilibri militar de l'Orient Mitjà, i l'extremisme islàmic amb prou feines és l'única font de violència extremista. Hi ha moltes diferències ètniques i sectàries greus a l'Orient Mitjà, i això fa temps que ha provocat violència esporàdica dins d'estats determinats, i de vegades a grans conflictes civils. Les guerres civils al Iemen i la rebel·lió de Dhofar a Oman en són exemples, com ho són la llarga història de la guerra civil al Líban i la repressió violenta per part de Síria dels grups polítics islàmics que s'oposaven al règim de Hafez al-Asad.. El creixent poder de l'Organització per l'Alliberament de Palestina (PLO) va provocar una guerra civil a Jordània el setembre de 1970. La revolució iraniana a 1979 va ser seguit per greus combats polítics, i un esforç per exportar una revolució teocràtica que va ajudar a desencadenar la guerra Iran-Iraq. Bahrain i l'Aràbia Saudita han tingut enfrontaments civils entre les seves elits governants sunnites i xiïtes hostils i aquests enfrontaments van provocar una violència significativa en el cas de l'Aràbia Saudita., malgrat això, ha estat una llarga història d'extremisme islàmic violent a la regió, de vegades encoratjats per règims que després es van convertir en l'objectiu dels mateixos islamistes als quals van donar suport inicialment. Sadat va intentar utilitzar els moviments islàmics com a contraposició a la seva oposició secular a Egipte només per ser assassinat per un d'aquests moviments després del seu acord de pau amb Israel.. Israel va pensar que era segur patrocinar moviments islàmics després 1967 com a contrari a l'OLP, només per veure la ràpida aparició de grups violentament antiisraelians. El Iemen del Nord i del Sud van ser l'escenari de cops d'estat i guerres civils des de principis dels anys seixanta, i va ser una guerra civil al Iemen del Sud que finalment va provocar l'enfonsament del seu règim i la seva fusió amb el Iemen del Nord el 1990. La caiguda del xa va provocar una presa de poder islamista a l'Iran., i la resistència a la invasió soviètica de l'Afganistan va desencadenar una reacció islamista que encara influeix a l'Orient Mitjà i a tot el món islàmic.. L'Aràbia Saudita va haver de fer front a un aixecament a la Gran Mesquita de la Meca 1979. El caràcter religiós d'aquest aixecament compartia molts elements dels moviments sorgits després de la retirada soviètica de l'Afganistan i la guerra del Golf el 1991. Els esforços algerians per suprimir la victòria dels partits polítics islàmics en unes eleccions democràtiques a 1992 van seguir una guerra civil que ha durat des de llavors. Egipte va lliurar una batalla llarga i molt reeixida amb els seus propis extremistes islàmics als anys noranta, però Egipte només ha aconseguit suprimir aquests moviments en lloc d'eradicar-los. A la resta del món àrab, les guerres civils a Kosovo i Bòsnia van ajudar a crear nous quadres extremistes islàmics. L'Aràbia Saudita va patir dos atacs terroristes importants abans 2001. Aquests atacs van afectar un centre d'entrenament de la Guàrdia Nacional i una caserna de la USAF a Al Khobar, i almenys un sembla haver estat fruit dels extremistes islàmics. Marroc, Líbia, Tunísia, Jordània, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, i el Iemen han vist com els moviments islamistes de línia dura esdevenen una seriosa amenaça nacional. Encara que no formen part directament de la regió., el Sudan ha lluitat una guerra civil de 15 anys que probablement ha costat més de dos milions de vides, i aquesta guerra havia estat recolzada per elements islamistes de línia dura al nord àrab. Des de llavors, Somàlia també ha estat escenari d'una guerra civil 1991 que ha permès a les cèl·lules islamistes operar en aquest país.

Commentary: Hollow ring for democracy

Arnaud de Borchgrave

WASHINGTON, juny 24 (UPI) — The White House’s crusade for democracy, as President Bush sees it, has produceda critical mass of events taking that (Middle Eastern) region in a hopeful new direction.And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just toured the area, making clear at every stop whenever the United States has a choice between stability and democracy, the new ideological remedy would sacrifice stability.

Veteran Mideast hands who have dealt with five regional wars and two intifadas over the past half century shuddered. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger first among them.

For the U.S. to crusade in every part of the world to spread democracy may be beyond our capacity,” he says. The U.S. system, he explains, “is the product of unique historical experiences, difficult to duplicate or to transplant into Muslim societies where secular democracy has seldom thrived.If ever.

If stability had been sacrificed for democracy, the former national security adviser and secretary of State to Presidents Nixon and Ford could not have negotiated major Arab-Israeli disengagement agreements: Sinai I, Golan and Sinai II. Without the undemocratic, benign dictatorial figure of Anwar Sadat at the helm in Egypt, or without the late Syrian dictator and master terror-broker Hafez Assad, yet another page of war history would have been written.

With a democratic parliament in Egypt in 1974, presumably dominated by the popular Muslim Brotherhood, Sadat could not have made his spectacular, death-defying trip to Jerusalemand suddenly become the most popular leader in Israel. A peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and between Jordan and Israel were possible only because absolute rulersSadat and the late King Hussein, led both Arab countries.

Sadat knew his courageous act of statesmanship was tantamount to signing his own death warrant. It was carried out in 1981 — by Islamist extremistson worldwide television.

Rice proudly proclaims it is no longer a war against terrorism but a struggle for democracy. She is proud the Bush administration no longer pursues stability at the expense of democracy. But already the democracy crusade is not only encountering speed bumps, but also roadblocks on a road to nowhere.

The much-vaunted Palestinian elections scheduled for July have been postponed indefinitely.

In Lebanon, the ballot box has already been nullified by political machinations. Gen. Michael Aoun, a bright but aging prospect who came back from French exile to take on Syria’s underground machine, has already joined forces with Damascus. While denying any deal with Syria, the general’s henchmen concede he was compensated munificently for his retirement years in Paris from his post as army chief of staff and his time as premier. Aoun collected $22 million, which included compound interest.

In Egypt, Rice, presumably attempting to confer respectability on President Hosni Mubarak’s challengers, took time out to receive a known political charlatan who has over the years been exposed as someone who forged election results as he climbed the ladder of a number of political parties under a variety of labels.

Even Mubarak’s enemies concede Ayman Nour fabricated and forged the signatures of as many as 1,187 citizens to conform to regulations to legalize his Ghad (Tomorrow) party. His career is dotted with phony academic credentials, plagiarism, a staged assassination attempt on himself, charges of embezzlement by his Saudi media employer, and scads of document forgeries.

Rice had canceled a previous trip to Egypt to protest the indictment and jailing of Nour pending trial. And before Rice’s most recent accolade, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had also gone out of her way to praise Egypt’s master political con man. Makes you wonder what kind of political reporting is coming out of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

With this double-headed endorsement by the United States, Nour is losing what little favor he still has in Egypt. He is now seen as a U.S. stooge, to add to a long list of failings.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed but tolerated since it renounced terrorism, is more representative of Egyptian opinion than Nour. There is also the Kifaya (Enough) movement that groups Egypt’s leading intellectuals. But they declined to meet with Rice.

The United States is seen throughout the Arab world as synonymous with Israel. This automatically limits the Bush administration’s ability to win friends and influence people. Those making the most out of U.S. pressure to democratize are organizations listed by the United States asterrorist.Both Hamas in the Palestinian territories and Hezbollah in Lebanon are now mining opportunities both above and underground. Islamic legislators in Jordan petitioned King Abdullah to allow Jordanian Hamas leaders, evicted six years ago, to come home. The king listened impassively.

It took Europe 500 years to reach the degree of political maturity witnessed by the recent collapse of the European Union’s plans for a common constitution. Winston Churchill said democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried. But Churchill also said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.This still applies in the souks of the Arab world, from Marrakech to Muscat.

The Problem of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

Jeffrey Azarva

Samuel Tadros

On June 20, 2007, Els EUA. Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research convened ameeting ofU.S. intelligence officials to weigh the prospect of formal engagement with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood,1known in Arabic as al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin. The session was the result of several years of discussion aboutengaging the group considered by many to be the fountainhead of Sunni fundamentalism.Although the Bush administration established a diplomatic quarantine of the Brotherhood afterSeptember 11, 2001, members of the U.S. House of Representatives held several meetings in Egyptin the spring of 2007—almost three months before the State Department meeting—with MuhammadSaad al-Katatni, an independent member of the Egyptian parliament and the head of its Brotherhoodaffiliatedbloc. On April 5, 2007, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) broke with conventionand met with Katatni at the Egyptian parliament building and at the residence ofU.S. ambassador to Egypt Francis J. Ricciardone. Then, on May 27, 2007, a four-member U.S. congressionaldelegation led by Representative David Price (D-N.C.) met with Katatni in Cairo.Following Hoyer’s visit, Els EUA. Embassy in Cairo dismissed Egyptian criticism that his meetingspresaged a reversal of U.S. policy.2 In November 2007, Ricciardone also played down themeetings when he claimed that U.S. contacts with nominally independent Brotherhood members did“not imply American endorsement of the views of the individual parliamentarians or their politicalaffiliates.”3 Despite this reassurance, the meetings with Katatni are indicative of opinion leaders, bothinside and outside the U.S. government, warming inevitable. Yet while the movement, established by Hassan al-Banna in 1928, constitutes the most organizedand well-funded opposition in the country today—the byproduct of both its charitable services and da’wa (literally“call to God,” or preaching) network that operate outside state control—any examination of its rhetoricand political platforms shows U.S. outreach to be premature. Despite its professed commitment to pluralismand the rule of law, the Brotherhood continues to engage in dangerous doublespeak when it comes to the mostfundamental issues of democracy.

Reneging on Reform: Egypt and Tunisia

Jeffrey Azarva

On November 6, 2003, President George W. Bush proclaimed, “Sixty years of Western nations excusingand accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe—because in the longrun, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty.” This strategic shift, coupled with the invasionsof Iraq and Afghanistan, put regional governments on notice. The following spring, Tunisia’s president, ZineEl Abidine Bin Ali, and Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak—stalwart allies in the U.S.-led war on terrorismand two of North Africa’s most pro-American rulers—were among the first Arab leaders to visit Washingtonand discuss reform. But with this “Arab spring” has come the inadvertent rise of Islamist movementsthroughout the region. Now, as U.S. policymakers ratchet down pressure, Egypt and Tunisia see a greenlight to backtrack on reform.

What Happened to the “Arab Street?

Neha Sahgal



Why do opposition movements engage in protest under some circumstances but not inothers? Why did the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt organize large scale protest during the 2005regime initiated political reforms while remaining largely off the streets during the United States’led war in Iraq in 2003? There is a common notion among Western public opinion and policymakers that United States’ policies in the Middle East have led to greater political activismamong Islamic fundamentalists. Yet, while citizens around the world protested the war in Iraq,Egypt remained largely quiet. The lack of protest and other acts of opposition were surprisinggiven the history of Arab-anti colonial struggle, the 1950s street politics in Egypt that broughtNasser to power and the flourishing civil society organizations in the region exemplified byIslamist parties, non governmental organizations and professional syndicates. More importantly,with the 2005 regime initiated political opening in Egypt, the country’s largest oppositionmovement, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood organized high levels of protests anddemonstrations exposing undemocratic practices of the current government and seeking greaterpolitical freedom. The year 2005, was marked by a “wave of contention” in Egypt standing instark contrast to the lack of mobilization against the Iraq war. Clearly, Muslim Brotherhoodprotest activity is guided by factors other than the prevalence of “anti-Americanism.”Scholars of contentions politics have developed and tested various theories that explainand predict protest behavior. Strain and breakdown theories explain protest as an outcome ofeconomic conditions while resource mobilization theories have stressed the role of material andorganizational constraints in organizing protest. Yet others have argued that protests are spurredby structural changes, for example, divisions or breakdown in the government. In this paper, Iargue that explaining the protest behavior of one group should take into account the group’sinteraction with other opposition actors. Opposition groups operate in a dense network of allies,adversaries as well as counter movements. Therefore their strategies influence each other intangible ways. I present an analysis of how the 2005 political opening in Egypt led to changes inlegal parties such as al-Ghad and al-Wafd that were allowed to contest presidential andparliamentary elections. Further, the new movement Kifaya, originally formed to expressopposition to the Iraq war, also gained momentum as an anti-Mubarak, pro-democracy alliance.The changes in the parties that were allowed to contest elections and the emergence of newmovements altered the socio-political context for the “officially banned, yet tolerated,” MuslimBrotherhood. The Brotherhood tried to reassert itself as the main voice of political opposition inthe country by organizing greater protest activity and in this way established similarity with legalopposition parties. While legal opposition parties remain weak and ineffective in Egypt, andnewer opposition movements are still small in their membership, they may still influence eachothers’ strategies in tangible ways.