Mohammed Morsi, the once democratically-elected ruler of Egypt, died on June 17, 2019 while in court. His death is a useful time to consider the difference between most Arab Muslim countries dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood and that of the Palestinians.
Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood
The Muslim Brotherhood was developed in Egypt in the early 20th century, not long after the British and French Mandates took control of most of the Middle East. It espoused the adopting of Islamic sharia law in all aspects of society and the unification of Muslim lands to thwart western “imperialism.”
The Brotherhood grew to a major force and was involved in a number of violent acts including assassinations before it was banned by Gamel Abdel Nasser. His successors Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak were similarly cautious about them, but it was the “Arab Spring” in 2011 that truly afforded the group to chance to come out from the shadows and run aggressively in the country’s election in 2012. It won 52% of the vote and was declared the winner on June 18, 2012, with the party’s leader Mohamed Morsi sworn in as president on June 30.
Morsi’s tenure would last just a year as concern about how his reforms would play out worried non-Muslims and liberals. The military took over and arrested Morsi and hundreds of other members of the Brotherhood. Many were sentenced to death, with several – like Morsi – spending the rest of their lives in courts pleading for their lives.
Palestinian Arabs and Hamas
The Muslim Brotherhood’s branch in Israel and Gaza was launched in 1987 together with the first Intifada, and called Hamas. Hamas published its charter in 1988, calling for the death of Jews around the world and the complete destruction of the Jewish State of Israel. It was the most antisemitic ruling document of any party ever written – including from Nazi Germany.
Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) viewed Hamas as a political rival to his own Fatah party. He did not ban it as much as tried to use and abuse it, much the way political enemies do.
When the Palestinians created the Palestinian Authority and held elections for president and parliament in 2005 and 2006, respectively, Hamas participated with the support of the U.S.’s Bush administration. Hamas won 58% of the parliamentary seats. In its rivalry with Fatah, it fought a mini-war in 2007 to seize control of the Gaza Strip, which it continues to hold to this day.
Saudi Arabia and other Muslim States
The Muslim Brotherhood denounced the Saudi monarchy for both allowing U.S. soldiers on “Muslim land” during Operation Desert Storm, and the ongoing close relationship that the monarchy maintains with the west. The government designated the group as a terrorist organization in 2014, as a long developing post-9/11 U.S. initiative on the “War on Terror.”
Syria banned the Brotherhood and considered membership in the group a capital offense as far back as 1980. The UAE labeled the group a terrorist organization in 2014, around the same time as Saudi Arabia.
The principal backers of the Muslim Brotherhood are Qatar and Turkey. Its messages can be found throughout the Qatar-owned media outlet, Al Jazeera. Turkey’s strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan moved his country much further towards sharia over his tenure. Both Turkey and Qatar are significant backers of Hamas.
The Muslim Brotherhood has some deep support in the Muslim Middle East, with calls for institutionalization of sharia law and a caliphate, quite similar to the goals of the Islamic State/ ISIS. The MB has been banned and prosecuted by the leaders of most of the Muslim countries as a threat to their ruling status, and the leaders use their military and court system to suppress the group.
The Palestinian Authority does not have a strong leader. Mahmoud Abbas has no military and barely a court system. Abbas cannot bring himself to strike a compromise joint government, and he risks losing foreign funding if the Palestinian government includes a terrorist organization. His attempts to woo the Palestinian Arabs to Fatah have been weak, as he has not brought the economy and self-determination which many had hoped for.
Morsi’s life and death is a window into the Muslim Middle East: people who desire a caliphate and to be ruled by sharia law, in competition with leaders who want to maintain their own power as well as access to money and respect from the western world. As long as that non-Muslim world continues to demand Middle East oil and shipping through the Suez Canal, the tension will continue. When it stops caring, the caliphate of the indigent will be here.
Related First.One.Through articles:
Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough