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Why the US 'allowed' the Muslim Brotherhood to rule Egypt

Abd-Al-Azim Hammad, former Chief Editor of Al-Ahram, tackles the question of why the Brotherhood changed their policies regarding Washington

Mahmoud Al-Wardani, Wednesday 11 Sep 2013

Al-Wahi Al-Ameriki: Qasat Al-Irtabat Al-Banna'a Bein Amerika Wa Al-Ikhwan ('The American Divine Revelation: The Story of the Structural Connection between America and the Muslim Brotherhood') by Abd-Al-Azim Hammad, Dar Al-Mahroussa Publishing, Cairo, 2013. pp.266

In October 2007, the author of this book, Abd-Al-Azim Hammad, received a phone call from then Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, to discuss his article titled 'Al-Ikhwan, Islam & the Peace.' In the article, Hammad comments on an unexpected statement by Dr. Essam El-Erian, a well-known leader in the Brotherhood, suggesting that the movement should not treat the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty according to halal & haram (i.e. 'the allowable' & 'the forbidden' within Islamic jurisprudence), but rather through the lens of political interest.

Five years later, in December 2012, El-Erian, much to the surprise of the Egyptian public, called on Egyptian Jews in Israel to return to their original homeland – i.e. Egypt– in order to "leave space for Palestinian refugees."

In the five years between 2007 and 2012 many changes took place within the Brotherhood. However, 2007 marked the beginning of several developments in the outlook of the movement towards the US, and subsequently towards Israel. In order to prove this, Hammad had to re-read events, political analyses and statements from various parties in Egypt, the US, Israel, Qatar and several European countries.

Hammad was the Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ahram newspaper from September 2011 until February 2012, and also the author of a prominent book, reviewed here previously, titled: "The Lost Revolution: The Helmet, the Beard & the Square," which engages several tense weeks during the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

While in his book, The Lost Revolution, Hammad deals with how a member of the Guidance Bureau, Mohammed Morsi, came to power, his latest book is devoted to expounding the ways in which "narratives of Zionist America converged with those of the Muslim Brotherhood."

The author found himself facing a number of questions, which he attempted to obtain answers to from leaders of the Brotherhood, such as: Who made the decision to alter the policy of the group towards Israel? - Did Washington ask for this decision? - What were the Brotherhood's demands in return? - Did they receive written guarantees from Washington? - At what level was the decision taken? - Did anyone inside the group oppose it? - What were the arguments of the opponents of this decision? - Did the rest of the Brotherhood members know about the decision?

Early on, Hammad requested answers from Brotherhood leaders, including Essam El-Erian, Essam Al-Haddad – Morsi's assistant for Foreign Affairs, Amr Darag - Head of Foreign Affairs in the Freedom & Justice Party and others, but many of them evaded him or refused to reply. Consequently, Hammad resorted to other sources, such as immigrant Muslim Brotherhood members in the USA, who he says played a pivotal role in directing the Brotherhood in Egypt to join the American Strategy for Connecting and Construction.

Since 9/11, Hammad recounts how the American Islamist lobby encouraged the Egyptian Brotherhood to become more pliant towards an American bargain. This bargain he says was contingent on America helping the Brotherhood to gain power in Egypt and other Arab countries, in exchange for altering the policies of these countries to be more accommodating of the American commitment to Israel.

As it depicts details of the connection between the US and the Brotherhood, the book moves in two parallel lines. The first deals with the American commitment towards Israel & Zionism. The author considers the American political elite, including the clergy & intellectuals, within the context of the political project of Zionism - a movement calling for the return of Jews to Palestine and the establishing of a Jewish state.

Hammad then moves on to the relationship between America & political Islam. He describes how, as American international influence increased following the end of WWI, young American diplomat Hermann Eilts met with Sheikh Hassan Al-Banna, the first Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, in the house of the Under-Secretary of the Saudi Finance minister in Jeddah, 1948. Later, US President Eisenhower met Sa'eed Ramadan, member of the Brotherhood's Guidance Bureau & son-in-law of Al-Banna, in the Oval Office in 1953. Additionally, he recalls how the CIA collaborated with the Brotherhood after president Nasser's decision to nationalise the Suez Canal Company in 1956.

Hammad asserts communications and co-operation between the US and Islamist groups, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, didn't stop after the US inherited the role played by the French & British Empires. When President Sadat came into power in the early seventies, Kamal Adham, head of Saudi Intelligence, played a pivotal role in the bargain between Sadat, Washington & the Brotherhood, through which he allowed both Washington & the Brotherhood to exist on Egyptian soil and be influential in domestic politics.

In 2007, Condoleeza Rice, US Foreign Secretary, adopted a new policy permitting her diplomats to officially contact the Muslim Brotherhood. Simultaneously, the Brotherhood Alliance in America, an umbrella group combining all of the branches of the Brotherhood in the US, whether focusing on research, charity, religion or politics, to be established under the name "Muslim Americans for Constructive Connection."

In the same year, Newsweek magazine & the Washington Times organised a week-long gathering for 'moderate Muslims,' the majority of whom are Brotherhood members. The most significant result from this gathering, Hammad suggests, was that attendees agreed Jihad in Islam isn't permissible except for defense purposes, such as resisting a foreign invasion or internal tyranny.

These beginnings were followed by a flood of symposia, gatherings & meetings, during which immigrant Brotherhood members and participating US Foreign Secretary officials and Congressmen agreed that using violence towards American & Western interests was out of the question, and re-asserted their commitment to upholding the security of Israel in the region.

Hammad maintains the Americans didn't permit the Muslim Brotherhood to rule Egypt until they had finalised their relationship, information he asserts was verified by a trustworthy source.

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