"Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." That's the motto of the Muslim Brotherhood. It, or they, insist that Islam is the only source of legislation and that non-Muslims and women cannot become heads of state.
To believe a democratic outcome is a fait accompli in North Africa is failing to understand the Muslim Brotherhood's purpose. They may not have the influence they wish right now, but they are there, and patient.
A recent poll by the Washington Institute for Near East policy found that Muslim Brotherhood leaders received barely 1% of Egyptians support for the Presidency. Only 7% of those that responded believed that "the Mubarak regime is not Islamic enough."
This, says an article in the Wall Street Journal last Friday, February 16 by Maajid Nawaz (executor director of Quilliam, a counterextremism think tank in England) suggests the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to win seats in the Egyptian Parliament if an election were to be held, but unlikely to gain control.
But in the same edition of the Journal, Ms. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former member of the Dutch Parliament, warned that it should be remembered that al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas (and others) are offshoots of the Brotherhood.
She feels the Brotherhood has a hidden agenda and that the West should push for more time in drafting a new Egyptian constitution. Such a constitution, she says, "should introduce checks and balances, eliminate the one-party system and guarantee the protection of human rights." It should also safeguard against the imposition of Shariah law.
The above mentioned Mr. Nawaz, who was once held as a prisoner of conscience in Egypt, takes heart in the bold secular youth movements that had so much to do with Mubarak's downfall. The Egyptian Movement for Change, and the April 6th Youth were more influential that the allegedly most organized movement in Egypt, the Brotherhood. The Economist Magazine editorialized in a recent issue that '"fear of the Muslim Brotherhood is...overdone."
If a new government included the Brotherhood it would be harder on Israel and easier on Hamas, but the Brothers are a varied bunch and "wouldn't risk another war" with Israel. Some would argue for rescinding the peace treaty with Israel. But estimates of their popularity peak at about 20% depending on who is counting and they would probably bide their time. But remember their motto and what that implies.
The U.S. would be wise to remember the bitter truth written by playwright Bertolt Brecht, 1898-1956, an avowed Marxist, who said "First grub, then ethics." He was right. Food comes first and for the half of Egypt's population that lives on less than $2 a day, the next meal is more important than the next election. This represents an opportunity for the US that would be nice to take advantage off if we weren't broke as a nation.
And aid/assistance can't be distributed from the state down. Free enterprise and job creation has to come from the bottom up. Dan Henninger had a fascinating op-ed piece in the Journal recently.