The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt: what next?
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the United States government was in discussions with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood on June 30. That the U.S. was willing to reach out to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) - an 83-year old Islamist organization often criticized for providing entrée to jihadism for young Egyptians - marked a significant policy shift for the Obama administration and may signify a new era for the Brotherhood. For the MB, this new era is coming to be defined by the toppling of the Hosni Mubarak regime in Egypt and the replacement of Osama bin Laden as al-Qaeda’s amir by Egyptian national Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri. Within Egypt, this rapprochement has come at a time of significant upheaval within the MB, as the organization struggles to maintain unity and hegemony within Egyptian Islamism and simultaneously compete for political influence in the rapidly democratizing post-Mubarak era. Complicating matters is the significant change in the rivalry between al-Qaeda and the MB, as defined by the emergence of al-Zawahiri and the apparent success of non-violent protests in Egypt and Tunisia.
2. An excellent exposition of the Ikhwan versus al-Qaeda can be found in Marc Lynch, “Islam Divided between Salafi-Jihad and the Ikhwan,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 33(6), May 3, 2010, pp. 467-487.
3. Wiktorowicz provides a useful typology of Salafism which elucidates the historical development of several key differences between “politicos” like the Muslim Brotherhood and jihadis like al-Qaeda. See Quintan Wiktorowicz, “Anatomy of the Salafi Movement,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 29(3), 2006, p207-239.
4. The Muslim Brotherhood does support popular resistance and violent opposition to Israel and the U.S. occupation of Muslim countries. Ikhwanweb.com features a biography of the late Shaykh Ahmad Yassin, former head of HAMAS, as an icon of the Palestinian resistance to Israel. See www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php. For Abdullah Azzam’s ideology, see: Andrew McGregor, “’Jihad and the Rifle Alone’: ‘Abdullah ‘Azzam and the Islamist Revolution,” Journal of Conflict Studies 33(2), Fall 2003, pp.92-113.
5. Lynch, op cit, 2010. See also Terrorism Monitor, March 23, 2006