CIA Gets Political With Muslim Brotherhood

The Trump administration is considering officially designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.  CIA analysts are warning, however, that doing so may drive some supporters into more violent terrorist organizations (such as al-Qaeda) and hurt relationships with certain U.S. allies, such as Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait, and Turkey.

However, looked at within the larger context of events since Trump’s inauguration, this is part of a wider re-alignment of U.S. interests in the Middle East and a divergence from Obama-era policies.

During the Obama administration, the U.S. supported and helped the overthrow of the governments of Libya, Egypt, and Syria (still on-going).  Into the vacuum created by the collapse of the governments of these countries, various various militant Islamic groups moved in, including ISIS, al-Qaeda, and their affiliated groups (Hamas is now partnering with ISIS and training with them in Egypt).

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood briefly gained power in 2012 after democratic parliamentary elections were held.  However, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president (Mohamed Morsi) soon began to implement Islamic practices through fiat.  This led to mass protests and the removal of Morsi and his government by the Egyptian military in 2013.  The military then sought to suppress the Muslim Brotherhood, arresting many within the organization and outlawing it.

So, just what and who is the “Muslim Brotherhood?”

It was founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, but greatly influenced by Egyptian author and writer Sayyid Qutd.  It is transnational, with members throughout the Middle East.  It’s stated ultimate goal is to establish a theocratic government which rules according to Sharia law.  Keep this in mind when people try to characterize the organization as “moderate.”  It is moderate in relation to groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda (al-Qaeda, by the way, is moderate in relation to ISIS), but it still seeks a similar end goal as do the other radical Islamic groups.  The motto of the Muslim Brotherhood is “Allah is our objective; the Qur’an is the Constitution; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; death for the sake of Allah is our wish.”  The current leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, has also called for the destruction of Israel and for the death of Jews.

Due to its destabilizing influence, radical rhetoric, and violent actions, the Muslim Brotherhood has already been labeled a terrorist organization by Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates.  The United States, under Trump’s leadership, is now considering doing the same.  This is where the wider context and re-alignment of U.S. interests comes into play.

The first two countries in that list, Russia and Saudi Arabia, are most interesting.  The U.S. and Russia, as has been widely reported and debated, are in the midst of a delicate dance of detente, seeking to work together on matters of mutual concern.  Saudi Arabia has been fighting radical Islamic rebels in Yemen, trying to keep the turmoil there from spreading into its own country.  The U.S. has launched many missile strikes against terrorists in Yemen, in support of Saudi Arabia.  After the recent U.S. special forces raid in Yemen, however, Yemen has said that they will no longer grant permission for U.S. ground raids (allowing, though, unmanned strikes to continue).  In response, the U.S. has indicated that it will proceed with weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain which were blocked by the Obama administration.  These weapons will allow both countries to continue the fight in Yemen as U.S. proxies.

Thus, as I mentioned above, the Trump administration’s willingness to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization is part of a larger picture.  The Obama administration’s actions (including overthrowing governments and pulling most U.S. forces out of Iraq), whether intended or not, had the effect of strengthening radical Islamic groups who poured in to fill the void (granted that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 eventually helped lead to this as well).  The U.S. then tangled with Russia in Syria, stopped weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, and signed a nuclear deal with Iran.  This left the majority of the Arab states fearful for their own security, with terrorists and rebels on their doorsteps, and Iran rising in power and threatening the Gulf states.

Trump seems to want to reverse this trend by aligning the U.S. with Russia, Saudi Arabia, and others with similar interests in order to counter radical Islam in the Middle East and check Iran’s influence.  The issue with the Muslim Brotherhood is therefore just a piece in the larger puzzle of what to do in the Middle East.

Another Reason Twitter Is Dead

Twitter is not doing well. In the past 17 months, it has lost 50 percent of its market value. As a company, it doesn’t make money, having lost $380 million on $2.5 billion in revenue. It botched a terrible deal to broadcast Thursday Night Football for the flagging NFL–to which the league may now unceremoniously apply the ax.

But the biggest reason Twitter is losing relevance is that they’ve become the ultimate “safe space” on the Internet for evil, while minimizing voices for good. I used to think Twitter was good because it allowed people in freedom-deprived countries to communicate through anonymous channels. But no longer.

Twitter just bestowed its “verified” blue checkmark to @Ikhwanweb, which is the official handle of the Muslim Brotherhood. So they can tweet stuff like this:

with the same online gravitas of the New York Times or the Washington Post.

Critics have rightly pointed out that @Ikhwanweb has been used by the Muslim Brotherhood to promote violence, including publishing a 2015 call for violent jihad and “martyrdom,” and spreads anti-Israel, anti-Jewish, and anti-Western hatred online.

The Muslim Brotherhood is a global Islamic revivalist organization that seeks to take political power in order to promote its ideology, which calls for the establishment of Islamic law and ultimately promotes violent jihad against all those who oppose it, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

The Brotherhood has historically helped to spawn numerous terrorist organizations including HamasPalestinian Islamic Jihad, and even Al Qaeda, and Brotherhood members in the United States have been convicted of providing material support for terrorism.

Twitter has no problem with millions of Russian tweet-bot accounts, fake news generators, and the fact that over 2 million of President-elect Donald Trump’s followers are fake accounts. Yet they purge conservatives along with “alt-right” voices.

Conservative actor James Woods, who had 480,000 followers, quit the site on November 18 over what he called “censorship.” And it is censorship. Either Twitter is serious about having real people on its service, or it’s not. But it seems the company has lost its way–preferring to cherry-pick some accounts to purge because of the content of their tweets rather than tracking down the remaining 90,000 accounts controlled by ISIS. (To their credit, they did delete 125,000 ISIS-connected accounts in February.)

As useful as Twitter is to make a short point, a cutting remark, or share online content to a large audience, if the company can’t get its censorship, uneven application of the “trust” rules, and epidemic of fake accounts under control, it is almost certainly headed for the grave.

Mitt Romney Should Raise These Questions

Mitt Romney is in a difficult position. On September 11, 2012, radical Islamists stormed the American Embassy in Cairo, tore down and burned the American flag, and hoisted a black flag associated with Al Qaeda. In Libya, radical Islamists did the same, but also set the embassy on fire, fired rockets, and killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and at least three other State Department employees. The | Read More »