Hamzawi: Muslim Brotherhood Denounces Violence, Seeks Political Participation
|Tuesday, January 29,2008 16:13|
|By Duaa Abdul Raouf|
Amr Hamzawy, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that there are several reasons for the current standoff between Egyptian government and Washington. He saw in an interview with Egyptian daily Al Masry Al Yom, that the political situation in Egypt has been getting more confusing since 2005 when freedoms were expanding but they have been plunging during the last two years .
Hamzawi said the US-Egyptian relations are witnessing a tug of war, ups and downs specially as the US administration is increasing and then decreasing pressures on Egypt in the fields of human rights, democracy and reform.He said also that some observers attribute this diplomatic tug of war to the fact that the United States needs Egypt in some files like Iraq.
Regarding the cause of the current standoff between Egypt and America, Hamzawi said that the Egyptian regime appears as if it deceives the US administration in human rights and domestic reform issues. This was clear in the case of Ayman Nour. The US administration exercised pressure on the Egyptian regime to release Nour who was released temporarily to run for the presidential elections and was thrown in prison again after what the US administration calls "a cooked case.
Hamzawi added that the crisis took even another plunge when the US Congress decided to bar a part of the US aid and linking it with achieving democratic reforms, human rights and solving the problem of tunnels in Gaza borders, issues which Egypt saw as an intervention in its domestic affair and a violation to its national sovereignty.He also confirmed in his interview that all the Arab region knows well that Bush"s administration has repeatedly spoken about democratization and that such talk is only for local consumption. America doesn"t any thing for free. Its interests aren"t only in the democratization but it has many other interests like the security of Israel, Iran problem, securing oil, plus trade and economy.
Hamzawi sees that there is a misconception in national newspapers that the United States will stop its criticism for the human rights situation when Bush leaves office, forgetting that America has specialized institutions. There is an office which is responsible for running the human rights file in the region, and any coming US president would ask himself what he will do in this file.
Egypt"s Ambiguous Political Future
Regarding the Egyptian political future, Hamzawi sees that it has been shrouded in mystery since 2005 People"s Assembly elections. America saw that Egyptian civil society institutions and press managed in 2004 and 2005 to gain many freedoms that allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to garner a big number of seats despite oppressions.Although the US administration expected that freedoms will continue to spiral, but they deteriorated in 2006 and 2007 through the notorious constitutional amendments that dealt a deathblow to the gains in the filed of freedoms, adding even more pressures on civil society institutions and opposition.Asked how far the US administration is getting closer to Islamic movements in Egypt, Hamzawi said that Washington sees the Muslim Brotherhood group as a possible source of danger, especially as the group is gaining more ground and influence in Egypt. However, he sees that the US administration doesn"t see the group as a source of danger in the very near future.
Hamzawi hinted that the United States does not object to sending MB leaders to military courts or repressing its affiliates. Washington would have denounced these measures in case they are targeting other groups. The problem, according to him, lies in the fact that the US administration sees the Egyptian group as a possible danger.He added that the Muslim Brotherhood is the only one qualified for changing the autocratic rule in Egypt through popular pressures. This is because democratization takes place through calling for democracy, and the United States sees that the Muslim Brotherhood is the one most capable to do this role through its grassroots and its strong presence in the street.
This view was towards the Muslim Brotherhood was evident 2005. There emerged talks about a possible dialogue between America and the Muslim Brotherhood, when America wanted to knows directly what"s the Egyptian group"s view concerning in Camp David treaty, relations with Israel and Iraq. There was a main paradox between the view that sees the Muslim Brotherhood as a danger and the one that sees it as a pragmatic and eventually ideological group, the latter view raise US worries. This is because America doesn"t like ideological allies.He also said that the US administration stops short of speaking directly about the Muslim Brotherhood and it even doesn"t oppose directing heavy security blows to it including referring them to the military trials. However, it seeks to know also MB stances and what takes place inside the group.
Hamzawi sees that America has never and will never endorse a democracy that brings the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt, because Egypt is very close to the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Despite MB attempts to ease statements against Israel, the Americans always ask MB leaders whenever they meet them about their stance regarding this.As long as thegroup"s attitude remained against Israel, Washington will not allow that the group carries out a role more than the one it is currently playing in the political scene.The Muslim Brotherhood has never exercised or been accused of violence since 1954. This is because the group found out before any other power that violence is meaningless. This made it abandon this method several decades before for example the jihad organization and theIslamic group.
The Muslim Brotherhood, said Hamzawi, doesn’t adopt violence. It actually wants to participate in the political process. However, it is still face confusion over the source of authority and whether it is the sharia or the constitution. However, the Muslim Brotherhood settled this issue by seeing that its participation in the political process will be within the margin allowed by authorities or determined by the balances of powers in the Egyptian society.
The MB Party Program
Hamzawi saw that the Muslim Brotherhood"s political party program underlined an internal conflict between two trends: The first focuses on the general policies and shows more pragmatism, while the other fears this because it may be at the expense of the group"s organizational grassroots. Here emerges the problem, more pragmatism secures a bigger space of participation with the regime but it will make the group lose a part of its popularity and grassroots, and vice versa.The group failed in easing domestic and foreign fears and the size of criticisms against the group increased. A member of the Executive Bureau, the MB"s highest body, spoke to the press before discussing his statements with the MB body.
Despite these disadvantages over the party program, it has proves that the group is still "alive", not like other token opposition parties. Even if this is considered a disadvantage in Egypt, it is not in other normal political regimes.