Thursday, June 30, 2011

My head is spinning

Even for someone like me with little faith in the Obama administration's foreign policy, today is exceptional:

-- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announces the resumption of "limited contacts" with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to "emphasize the importance of non-violence, democratic freedoms, and the rights of women and minorities in such contacts." Whaddya think, will this be as successful as our outreach to Iran?

Somehow I doubt we can influence the thinking of the man rumored to be the Brotherhood's secret candidate for president, Mohamed Selim al-Awa. He's reportedly close to Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the famous 'spiritual' leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who prayed in Tahrir Square for Muslims to reconquer Jerusalem. But, hey, maybe we can persuade him to break off ties with Hamas. Al-Awa has also claimed that the Egyptian Copts are storing weapons in their monasteries to use against the Muslims, so he'd be equally good at restoring inter-religious amity within Egypt. How open do you think he'd be to guaranteeing the rights of minorities?

-- Israel has been added to our list of 36 specially designated countries believed to "have shown a tendency to promote, produce, or protect terrorist organizations or their members." What does this mean? Israelis will now be subjected to a special security screening if they are detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the division of the Department of Homeland Security responsible for enforcing the immigration laws. I don't know how many Israelis are usually detained by ICE, but I'm glad to know we're safe now. And I wonder if CAIR, ISNA, or other U.S. groups linked to the Muslim Brotherhood had any influence on this decision.

Seriously, I can understand the need to have contact with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, especially if they are among the winners in the September elections. But I'm willing to bet that our "limited contacts" will only serve to enhance their credibility, while bringing us nothing.

Indeed, we'll be boosting the group seen by the 'good guys' - secularists, democrats, all those young people you saw demonstrating - as the biggest threat. According to one of the Youth Coalition's leaders: "The Brotherhood is tyrannical in its opinions and views, and I think they will take the side of the Islamist businessmen who fund it and have strict Islamic ideologies ... Whatever constitution they might form would not fulfill the demands of Egyptians for civil rights and democracy."

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