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Habib in Interview: Iran Has its Own Agenda…Where Is Arab Agenda?
Habib in Interview: Iran Has its Own Agenda…Where Is Arab Agenda?
This interview with Dr. Mohamed Habib the first deputy chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood sheds light on the group’s targets in Egypt in the current time and satge specially regarding domestic and foreign political affairs.
Monday, March 30,2009 00:26
by Mohamed Hussein, islamtoday

This interview with Dr. Mohamed Habib the first deputy chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood sheds light on the group"s targets in Egypt in the current time and satge specially regarding domestic and foreign political affairs.

Dr. Mohamed Habib held this interview with www.islamtoday.net in which he talked about the Muslim Brotherhood"s role and attitudes during the aggression on Gaza, the relation with Hamas, domestic issues and the problems that Egypt is facing.

Dr. Habib showed that the Muslim Brotherhood backs those whose legitimacy stems from people on the basis of a right democratic atmosphere which is free of restrictions and free of exceptional measures.

He pointed out in the interview that we should bet on people to help them attains their free will, and take part in attaining their self-determination, only then a real race on power can be held.

The Brotherhood deputy chairman denied in the interview that the Muslim Brotherhood adopts an Iranian agenda, confirming that Iran is a state that has its own agenda while there is no Arab agenda?. He called for attaining a minimum of understanding and dialogue between the Arabs and Iran.

The following transcript of the interview is a bit different from the transcript posted by islamtoday on March, 18th, 2009, as some of the issues that needed detail are detailed here and some revision has been carried out on this transcript provided that the general meaning is still the same. Also added are some key views and ideas, specially those related to Iranian affairs. The following is the transcript:

Islamtoday: First of all, do you approve the Muslim Brotherhood"s attitude towards the war on Gaza?

Dr. Habib: The Muslim Brotherhood"s attitude greatly varied across its offshoots in the Arab region. Its attitude lived up to expectations in some countries, was fairly good in others and was below the required level in others.

However, the evaluation of the attitude should be seen through several levels, including the media, political, relief, mobilizing, and public rallying plus the parliamentary level. If a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot excelled in one or two levels, it lagged in some others. We should also see the target and know who far these targets were addressed through all levels.

For example, we wanted to show our anger towards what our brothers in Gaza are facing, and we sought to practice pressure on regimes and governments so as to carry out their ethical, humanitarian and national roles to stop the massacres committed by the Zionist enemy, lift the blockade and opening crossings, especially Rafah Crossing. We also wanted to show our solidarity and support to Gaza residents to increase their morale and back their resistance to the aggression. I think we achieved some successes in these targets.

The evaluation includes also the problems, obstacles, and challenges that the group is facing, and the conditions in which things are done. Well, what was available in one place was lacked in another.

The overall scene in Egypt, for example, was good as it saw Muslim Brotherhood nationwide moves- in villages and governorates- although this was different in Cairo due to its special status where any event and activity is severely oppressed by the security services. This has had an effect on the public that suffer from a heavy legacy of tyranny and repression. If there had been a public social political mobility, this would have had an effect on the Egyptian attitude towards the aggression on Gaza. We can also say that the relief work was excellent.

islamtoday: Does this mean that you have been careless?

Habib: The Muslim Brotherhood and Arab people did, despite the obstacles, a generally distinguished work for Gaza, and observers and analysts confirm this. Some places were not up to the expectation in some way or another may be this was due to a confused administration.

We are currently spotting defects and the cause of such defects to for evaluation and lesson-taking purposes.

Islamtoday: You didn"t have any new mechanisms to live up to the level of the aggression? Was demonstrating sufficient?

Dr. Habib: There are many mechanisms but what concerned us most reaching as many people in Egypt as we can. We used home visits, SMSs and networking campaigns to sidestep security obstacles, and I think that the Muslim Brotherhood has achieved something good in this field.

islamtoday: Hamas has been reportedly upset by your attitude towards the war on Gaza, is this true?

Dr. Habib: Generally speaking, Hamas appreciates the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt but the problem was that Egypt with its weight, history and leadership should have done many things.

islamtoday: Do you mean here Egypt the state or Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood?

Dr. Habib: Both. However, we should never be confused by parties of this equation. There is the Egyptian regime and its services, the Egyptian people and the Muslim Brotherhood, elites and parties and other political powers. The Muslim Brotherhood has done its best and mobilized its capabilities which it used well while the Egyptian regime with its huge media machine and administrating bodies institutions was against this interaction and mobility. Add to this the suffocating emergency law and the tough treatment against Muslim Brotherhood in demonstrations to the extent that a thousand demonstrators were detained. There are still more than 700 detainees in Egyptian prisons.

islamtoday: During the aggression, did you receive any warning or messages from the Egyptian regime against supporting Hamas or demonstrating in solidarity with Gaza?

Dr. Habib: The Egyptian regime wanted to curb the street-level events specially in Cairo. There were some messages calling for stopping demonstrations or at least lowering the numbers of demonstrations. The heavy security measures including manhunts and detentions prove this.

Many relief and aid convoys heading for Gaza were denied access to Rafah Crossing. At a certain time, up to 55 thousand tons in aid were denied access to Rafah Crossing.

islamtoday: Some newspapers report that you gave a cash support to Gaza, is this true?

Dr. Habib: The Muslim Brotherhood is a part of the Egyptian people. We as individuals donated and the Egyptian people contributed, but the Muslim Brotherhood"s most important role was encouraging citizens to donate. The scenes of the aggression including bombardment, demolishing and shelling on Gaza residents had a profound effect on the Arab and Muslim peoples and freemen all over the world which offered support. The Egyptian people were enraged to the most and wanted to sacrifice even their souls for their brothers, as a moral, religious and humanitarian duty.

As for the donations, they were taking the legal outlets, like the relief committee in the Arab Doctors Union, the relief committee in the Doctors" Syndicate and through popular committees and Al-Jam"iya Al-Shar"iya. Huge sums of money were sent in donations through these outlets

islamtoday: Has the group played a role to practicing pressure on Hamas to reach a reconciliation with Fatah?

Dr. Habib: We always back reconciliation and we always back unity of the Palestinian people. Reconciliation is a mechanism that solve many problems and no liberation of the whole Palestinian territories can be attained without unity. Generally speaking, Hamas is always seeking reconciliation with Fatah along with all Palestinian factions for the good of the Palestinian people. So, Hamas needs no pressure to do so. It knows and understands its role very well.***This makes us speak about the Hamas-Muslim Brotherhood relationship. Is there any mandatory views imposed on HamasDr. Habib: Hamas is- like any other entity in any country, giving a priority to its pure ideology, safe means and noble targets. Due to the fact that every entity works according to its own conditions and the context, challenges and problems it is facing and all the facts on the ground. Therefore, every entity decides for itself because it is the one that assess the situation. However, there is a regional and international sensitivity towards our intervention. It is true that the Palestinian cause isn"t exclusively Hamas cause, and isn"t restricted to the Palestinian people or the Muslim Brotherhood. The Palestinian cause concerns all Arabs and Muslims of this generation and the coming generations. I think that Hamas and other Palestinian factions know and realize this very well. So, it always seeks advice and views of all parties concerned in the Palestinian affair, including the Muslim Brotherhood and others.

islamtoday: Let"s move to the domestic file, as talk is piling up on the future of Egypt. Being Egypt"s biggest opposition group, does the Muslim Brotherhood have a view towards this future?

Dr. Habib: We are currently facing a political deadlock. The Egyptian regime does not have any real or serious intention to end the current deadlock. On the contrary, it is actually snowballing, and remember for example the 2007 constitutional amendments in 34 articles of the constitution, all of them to the interest of the security services, to have a full power, to tighten the grip on people, to violate the principle of citizenship through laying down illegal and tough conditions to run for president, restricting it to a specific person.

Add to this violating public and private freedoms rigging elections, excluding judges from completely supervising the legislative elections, suspecting all people through considering every citizen a terrorist until his innocence is proved. There is also the complete loss of the middle class in Egypt and changing legislations and measures to serve regime-leaning businessmen who have an influential presence in parliament. This actually led to broadening the gap between the upper class and the lower class that accounts for most people.

In Egypt, government and people are miles apart. Look at towers, palaces and fascinating houses in new cities, and compare them with shantytowns and cemeteries that shelter the poor. This spawns a state of tension reflected in the many sit-ins and protests, more than 1000 in less than two years, due to the aggravating crises like the crisis of bread, unemployment and price hikes, low wages. Add to this the problems of health, education, housing and transportations, not to mention the recent global financial crisis, its fallout that started to grip Egypt, including the drop- in next period- in revenues of tourism, oil, Suez Canal, foreign investments and remittance of foreign workers. All this will yield a recession whose bad repercussions will affect the country in all levels.

Instead of adopting a strategy that backs public freedoms, leads to a real constitutional and a political reform, through digging for talents and energies among people, and reinforces patriotism and loyalty, the Egyptian regime continues in the opposite direction, giving a blind eye to the social conditions which made the Egyptians lead a painful present, and expect a bleak future.

islamtoday: Some see that you lack the ability or concept of dealing with the future to have an effect on the political life, and it is as if you are waiting for a divine power to do this role. How far is this true?

Habib: This is not true. We have a clear methodology which is based on:

First: Necessarily reaching out to all political, national and influential powers because we see that reform and change can"t be achieved by a group on its own. So, we need concerted efforts from all powers on the basis of a clear agenda that aims to establishing a democratic regime that reflects our Islamic identity and values, and which is based on a real political multiplicity, a peaceful transfer of power, and considering the nation as the source of all authorities.

Second: Mobility all over the society, and working for increasing public awareness so that positive values override over negative values, and public interest override private interest so that people get used to sacrifice and self-denial, so that the society possesses the strong public opinion that moves peacefully and culturally to practice pressure on the executive authority to address reform commitments. We do not want to jump in the air or replace a tyranny with another tyranny. We want to move in the right path, even if this requires trouble, effort and sacrifice. Every regime- even in the most democratic countries- is controlled by the power of public opinion. If those democratic countries felt that the public opinion is weak, they woul turn into tyrannical governments. Thus, we bet on the best methods to secure a noble and free life.

islamtoday: What do you think of the view that the accord and solidarity of political powers with the Muslim Brotherhood- on the basis of a clear agenda and according to a specific mechanism- will reinforce public trust in the political work and the general social political movement, eventually spawning change?

Dr. Habib: This is true. reform is based on mobility of these people who possess huge energies and capabilities, with its strong will and ability to act and to impose the reform agenda. A price has to be paid. These people only need a leadership that they trust and move behind. The first steps towards building up this trust is unity of political powers and against tyranny and corruption because the state of division of national and political powers is the top factor behind passivity, frustration and recklessness of the Egyptian people.

islamtoday: In the midst of the reports about a possible successor for president Mubarak and whether he will be succeeded by his son Gama or spy chief Omar, whom do you support? Is there any other candidate inside or outside the group?

Dr. Habib: We support the one whose legitimacy really stems from people, in a real democratic atmosphere without any exceptional legislative or administrative or security measures. Any legitimacy should be founded on a real choice from people and on the basis of a free will, but what is currently happening- steps announced or prepared under the rug, is against this legitimacy. We reiterate that should never surrender to the fait accompli. We should do our duty as much as our conscience, capabilities and energies can accept. We should also take into consideration that any reform or change depends on a public political and social mobility that practices pressures on the regime through peaceful methods till they address reform commitments.

islamtoday: As we talk about succession, we would like to ask: What is the expected scenario of succeeding the Muslim Brotherhood chairman, specially as this term is to expire in 2010 and that he announced that he doesn"t plan to run again?

Dr. Habib: First of all, no one in all ranks of th Muslim Brotherhood nominates himself. The Muslim Brotherhood picks, across its hierarchical level, the leaders who it sees are the best to do one job or another. If any person- the Muslim Brotherhood chairman or any member of the group"s Executive Office- demands to be relieved from his post or calls it quits, it is his right but this definitely means he is doing so against the wish of his brothers. If the Muslim Brotherhood chairman said that he will not run again while the Muslim Brotherhood saw that he should run, then he will give in to the demands of his brothers.

islamtoday: What is the group"s view towards Al Bashir"s arrest warrant?, Do you have a certain agenda to deal with this file?

Dr. Habib: This warrant does not target Al Bashir alone. It targets Sudan as a whole. The West"s strategy is based on instigating parties east, north, west and south of the country to attack the heart so that Sudan is divided into smaller countries. Sudan is the gate of Africa. We actually call for defending the stability and unity of Sudan, not particularly defending this man. We actually defend our national security. Sudan has recently carried out some development operations and political reconciliations but the West wants to maintain its schemes and conspiracies. The arrest warrant is at the same time an indirect message to presidents and kings of the region: That any one can face this fate. It is a method of blackmailing to offer more concessions to major powers, topped by the United States.

As for our view concerning the solution:

First: Efforts should be exerted for a reconciliation to close ranks and reinforce the domestic front.

Second: Send to a fair open court any one who committed any mistake or violation. No one whatever his position should appear before this open trial.

Third: The Sudanese people should support their leaders because it is people who are target, not Al Bashir.

Unfortunately, the reaction all over the Arab world is weak. An Arab summit should be held to tell the West, the Security Council and the International Criminal Court that this issue is rejected, to show that this warrant is politically motivated, with distinction, that this ICC and those behind it- adopt double standards in dealing with all issues: Why hasn"t Bush been sent to justice because of the war crimes he committed against one million Iraqis?! There is no trial for Cheney and Rumsfeld for the shameful crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan?!. There is no trial or arrest warrant for Zionist gang leaders topped by Olmert and Barak and Livny for the aggression and massacres and genocide committed in Gaza.

The international organizations, including the Security Council, won"t move unless they feel that there is a serious stance from the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Delegations heading for Sudan, holding conferences are also important to show solidarity with Sudan.

islamtoday: There is an increasing talk about the relation between the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, and some even said that the Muslim Brotherhood is implementing an Iranian agenda, what do you think of this.

Dr. Habib: This isn"t true. Iran has its own agenda, calculations and plans, we have our own agenda, calculations and plans which are different terms of ideology, methodology and goals. We also have our own view towards domestic and regional and international issues. Well, if Iran is a country that has an agenda, where is the Arab agenda?. They say: Iran uses its political agenda to spread the Shiite doctrine. Then where is your Sunni agenda?. There should be some kind of understanding and dialogue between Arabs and Iran. If you see the Iranian agenda as troublesome and disturbing, what do you think of the frightening Zionist US agenda that targets Islam, the identity of the nation and its cultural privacy, an agenda that aims to fragment the region according to its schemes.

Let"s sit on the table- Arab countries and Iran- to hold a serious dialogue around the Iranian agenda, to see what it wants and what Arabs want and what are view for the solution. We should never leave it to snowball.

There are two triangles that can move in this regard: The first triangle includes Egypt, Iran and Turkey, and the second triangle includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

At the same time, we should ask what is our view towards confronting the Zionist US agenda in both the short and long run?. Will Iran and Turkey play a role in this?. How far can both triangles handle the various thorny files in the region?

islamtoday: What are the points of agreement between you and Iran?

Dr. Habib: If Iran confronts the United States and "Israel", and supports resistance movements, we appreciate this. However, we disapprove its role in Iraq and other places, something we can"t further elaborate here.

islamtoday: In October 2010, the People"s Assembly elections will be held. You still have no stance. Do you expect that the regime will exclude you through an electoral system that keeps you away from taking part in the elections?

Dr. Habib: No election law has been issued so far. The Egyptian regime seeks to surprise everyone, and it shrouds all this issue in mystery to announce it at the last moments so that no group or party manages to take arrangements. There are reports about a possible adopting of the proportional slate with a very limited number for independents, and there are plans for tailoring specific constituencies so that certain persons can succeed and others are blocked. We are observing that following up all this and will declare our attitude at the right time, and will declare how we will take part in the elections if we decided to do so.


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