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Egypt's Islamists: The Big Bad Wolf

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Just as during the Cold War the communists were reviled by liberals (not to mention conservatives ), so the Islamists are popularly reviled in our post-Cold War world as some kind of dour, terroristic bogeyman. And, just as in the Cold War liberals and conservatives alike used the communists to pull their irons out of the fire (Who won WWII ?),[r1] so Western politicians left and right have manipulated Islamists to further their own ends (Who defeated the communists in Afghanistan ?). [r2]

Recently leaked British intelligence documents allege that even the Mubarak regime was doing this. Former interior minister Habib Al-Adly established "Al-Adly militias" in 2004 composed of drug dealers, Islamic militants and security personnel to carry out false flag acts of provocation and sabotage around the country aimed at diverting people's attention from the regime's corruption and unpopular policies. This would "wreak havoc in the country if the regime was threatened".

This comparison between the communists and the Islamists is perhaps startling, but these two forces furthermore must be recognised as the main protagonists against the imperialists during the past century. Islamists only peripherally refer to the Osama bin Ladens. The vast majority of politicised Muslims are represented by the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), who denounce violence but argue that it is impossible to divorce religion from the political and economic spheres. 

It was the MB that stared down the forces of evil during the dark days of Egypt's revolution, when snipers were murdering peaceful protesters, just as communists were the first to sacrifice themselves to defeat the fascists in WWII while liberals and conservatives in Britain and the US shrewdly waited out the real fighting.

And, when the revolution triumphed, did the MB try to perform a coup d'etat? No. It immediately assured the disorganised neophyte liberals that it would not attempt to take power, neither at the presidential level nor in parliament, limiting itself to contesting only a third of the seats. It would not demand an Islamic state, but rather supports a secular state . It did not insist that the constitution be changed to allow religious parties. Their current detractors should thank them for their forbearance at a time when they are the only credible voice of opposition, and instead emulate the MB by organising and creating disciplined parties with clear agendas.

The political Muslims are not without fault. Islamists, including the MB, were manipulated by the imperialists from the start, though for the most part unwittingly, to support British designs against the Ottoman Caliphate , and later US designs against the Soviet Union (indirectly supporting, in both cases their nemesis Israel ). But they were also the backbone of the 1936-48 war to prevent the Zionists from stealing the Palestinians' land, and they held firm to their principles in the face of brutal repression by Mubarak while other (liberal) voices "wisely" kept mum.

In the constitutional referendum 19 March, the MB sensibly supported the amendments proposed by a truly independent, broadly representative committee that had worked day and night for weeks hammering out an acceptable compromise to allow for elections to restore genuine civilian rule to Egypt after 60 years. They did this in the interests of moving the revolution forward, not for some nefarious ends. The referendum was a truly historic moment, laying the groundwork for genuine civilian rule for the first time in Egypt's history. This is no exaggeration, considering the British-manipulated civilian order 1919-1951 was a fraud which was directly responsible for creating the conditions for a military dictatorship in 1952.

But what has been the liberal reaction to the MB's principled actions since the revolution? A sample of headlines in Al-Akhbar:

*"The MB has highjacked the revolution!" write eminent liberal pundits Abd Al-Rakhman Al-Abnudi and Rabab Al-Hadi the day after the referendum;

*"The MB and Salafists exploited clause 2 of the constitution ["the principle source of legislation is Islamic jurisprudence (sharia law)"] to convince electors to unite in opposition";

*The promise of the MB's restraint in upcoming elections is dismissed as showing "disdain for the Egyptian people" says former minister of justice Mahmoud Abu Al-Leil.

Amira Nowaira, English prof at Alexandria University , writes in the Guardian about "the unleashing of Islamists of various affiliations on the Egyptian scene", referring to Aboud Al-Zomor's release from prison. Al-Zomor, implicated in the assassination of Sadat , spent 30 years in jail, having long ago served out his 22-year sentence, but was never released under Mubarak's notorious emergency laws. What kind of "human rights" does Ms Nowaira practise?

"There is evidence the Brotherhood struck some kind of a deal with the military early on," warns Elijah Zarwan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group . This "tacit agreement" (read: conspiracy) is supposedly to allow the MB and the military to rule Egypt together in some kind of post-Mubarak purgatory, where the MB can assure the military that its own wealth will not be touched by the revolution, and where the MB will have free rein as long as they use their clout with the masses to suppress the liberals and keep a lid on further protests.

Writes Doctor Max Singer, a founder of the Hudson Institute and senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center (BESA) for Strategic Studies, "If the Egyptians are wise enough to make the strategic decision of joining forces against the Brotherhood, they too may do much better than expected. In such a case, the West will also benefit." It should be noted that BESA is a neocon thinktank affiliated with the political science department at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend . US Zionists at the Hudson Institute and their Israeli friends at BESA urge Egyptians to turn against the MB, the very force that alone can help ensure the victory of the revolutionary ideals of social justice and an end to Israeli terrorism of the Arab world.

Thus it is disheartening to watch many of Egypt's liberals and leftists harking to the call "Wolf!" flocking like sheep to the call of their colonial shepherd whose Middle East sheepdog continues to nip at Palestinian heels.

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Eric writes for Al-Ahram Weekly and PressTV. He specializes in Russian and Eurasian affairs. His "Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games", "From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization" and "Canada (more...)

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