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For three years, Barack Obama’s engagement policy with Islamists, most notably in Iran, has proven dangerous. The Iranian regime exploited Obama’s show of weakness by moving ahead aggressively with its nuclear weapon program. Now the Obama administration is doubling down on its disastrous engagement policy. It is serving as the midwife to the takeover of Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood and of Afghanistan by the Taliban. And there is a distressing link between the two.
A front page article in the New York Times on January 5th reported what has been obvious since Obama took office. The administration has sought to “forge close ties” with the Muslim Brotherhood – “an organization once viewed as irreconcilably opposed to United States interests.”
Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and recently joined with the ambassador to Egypt, Anne W. Patterson, for a meeting with top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, compared the Obama administration’s outreach to President Ronald Reagan’s arms negotiations with the Soviet Union. “The United States needs to deal with the new reality,” Senator Kerry said. “And it needs to step up its game.”
That is a ridiculous analogy. Reagan negotiated with the Soviet Union, but never waivered from his belief that the Soviet Union was an evil empire whose ideology must be defeated. The Obama administration’s outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood is based on its mistaken belief that it has reformed in a way that brings it much closer to the Western model of a pluralistic party committed to individual freedoms.
To the contrary, when push comes to shove, the Muslim Brotherhood’s dominance of the civil government in Egypt, by virtue of its parliamentary election victories, will mean the imposition of sharia law and jihad against infidels. Nothing the Obama administration is trying to do through its aggressive overtures, including recent high-level meetings with Muslim Brotherhood officials, will change that fact. Jihad is embedded in its history, as evidenced by the violent Islamic jihadist organizations such as Hamas that it spawned. And let’s not forget that it was the Muslim Brotherhood that gave Osama bin Laden’s former deputy and current leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, his start.
Jihad remains in the Muslim Brotherhood’s DNA. Its motto includes the words: “Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” The Brotherhood’s new offices are emblazoned with its emblem of crossed swords.
The Obama administration’s ostensible rationale for engaging with the Muslim Brotherhood is that it is simply bowing to political reality. Based on the results of Egyptian parliamentary elections so far, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party looks set to play a dominant role in Egypt’s new parliament and in the civil government to which Obama administration officials are pressing Egypt’s military to hand over the reins of power. But, in fact, the Obama administration is not simply being reactive. It helped bring about what is now unfolding in Egypt by throwing Egyptian president Mubarak under the bus and lending its hand to legitimize the false image of the Muslim Brotherhood as some sort of alternative moderate advocate of peace, pluralistic democracy and freedom for all Egyptians.
At the same time, in order to find a face-saving way out of the quagmire in Afghanistan in which the Obama administration finds itself after escalating the war there while simultaneously announcing a timetable for withdrawal, the administration is pursuing talks with the Taliban. It is using an untrustworthy Muslim Brotherhood connection to do so.
According to a report appearing in the Indian newspaper Hindu, diplomatic sources have said that Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is regarded as the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, has emerged as a key mediator in secret talks between the U.S. and the Taliban:
Mr. al-Qaradawi helped draw a road map for a deal between the Taliban and the United States, aimed at giving the superpower a face-saving political settlement ahead of its planned withdrawal from Afghanistan which is due to begin in 2014.
In return for the release of prisoners still held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, the lifting of United Nations sanctions on its leadership and its recognition as a legitimate political group, the Taliban was expected to agree to sever its links to transnational organisations like al-Qaeda, end violence and eventually share power with the Afghan government.
But what can the Taliban negotiators really deliver, even if it were serious in wanting to reach a peaceful settlement? There is no indication that these negotiators are in a position to turn over the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and his inner circle, who harbored al Qaeda when the Taliban was in control of Afghanistan. Nor will they be able to diffuse the growing power of the new generation of Taliban commanders ideologically committed to al-Qaeda’s vision.
The Obama administration’s idea of negotiations is to consider releasing Taliban detainees who are likely to return to jihad against U.S. forces without even any commitment reported to date that the Taliban would return the U.S. soldier it kidnapped. The only concrete step the Taliban negotiators have reportedly agreed to undertake in the short term is to set up an office in Qatar for talks.
It’s bad enough that the Obama administration is even considering talks on such terms – a prescription for appeasement. The fact that the Obama administration is foolish enough to trust al-Qaradawi as an intermediary with the Taliban is mind-boggling. Have they not read what this jihadist has been preaching?
The Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader’s call for jihad extends not only to the conquest of Israel and the killing of Jews. It includes the conquest of Europe and beyond.
In 2003 al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa declaring that
Islam will return to Europe as a victorious conqueror after having been expelled twice. This time it will not be conquest by the sword, but by preaching and spreading [Islamic] ideology […] The future belongs to Islam […] The spread of Islam until it conquers the entire world and includes both East and West marks the beginning of the return of the Islamic Caliphate [.]
A 2009 State Department cable, published by WikiLeaks, quoted a sermon by al-Qaradawi in which he condemned Jews for spreading “corruption in the land” and called for “the revenge of Allah” upon them. And he didn’t spare the United States. He condemned the United States for acting “like a god in this world” and cautioned the U.S. and the West that “according to the law of Allah, they should collapse.”
Yet this is the man in whom the Obama administration places its trust to help mediate a peace with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Just as the Obama administration trusts al-Qaradawi, the spiritual guide for the Muslim Brotherhood, to help it escape the mess in Afghanistan, the Obama administration has come to believe in the good intentions of the Muslim Brotherhood itself in how it plans to govern in Egypt.
Interestingly, President Obama himself, during his 2011 Super Bowl Day interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, wanted viewers to know he was concerned “there are strains of their [Muslim Brotherhood] ideology that are anti-U.S.” But he dodged the question whether the Muslim Brotherhood represented a threat to the U.S., saying that they were only “one faction in Egypt” that lacked majority support.
Despite that brief glimmer of Super Bowl Day reality about the Muslim Brotherhood coming from Obama himself, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said just a few days before Obama’s interview that any new Egyptian government “has to include a whole host of important non-secular actors that give Egypt a strong chance to continue to be [a] stable and reliable partner,” a remark most likely directed at U.S. support for the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood in any future government.
In February 2011, U.S. director of National Intelligence James Clapper said during a House Intelligence Committee hearing that the Muslim Brotherhood “pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera….. There is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally.” However, his characterization of the Brotherhood as “largely secular” went a bit too far, even for the Obama administration.
In June 2011, well before the recent parliamentary elections, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained the Obama administration’s decision to ignore the “anti-U.S.” strains in the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology and engage them in concert with its policy to deal with “peaceful” organizations. She said that “We welcome, therefore, dialogue with those Muslim Brotherhood members who wish to talk with us.”
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