Archive for the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ Tag

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: But first here’s my take. Can Arab countries be real democracies? Well, one of them, Tunisia, just did well on a big test. More than 20 years ago the scholar Samuel Huntington established his famous two- turnover test for fledgling democracies. He argued that a country can only be said to be a consolidated democracy when there have been two peaceful transitions of power.

Tunisia passed Huntington’s test after last weekend’s election when for the second time a ruling establishment agreed to hand over power. Tunisia’s relative success is in marked contrast to the abysmal failure of Egypt. The Arab world’s largest and once most influential country.

As in Tunisia Egyptians also overthrew a dictator three years ago, but after Egypt’s brief experiment with democracy in which the Muslim Brotherhood was elected and then abused its authority, today the country is ruled by a repressive dictatorship. I recently asked a secular liberal Egyptian from Cairo who was involved in the uprising against Hosni Mubarak whether the current regime feels like a return of the old order. Oh, no, he said. This one is far more brutal, repressive, and cynical than Mubarak’s.

Why did Tunisia succeed where Egypt failed? Analysts of the two countries have offered lots of answers, but the most common one is that Tunisia’s Islamists were just better than Egypt’s. In both countries Islamist parties won the first election, but as many have pointed out, Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, which is a rough equivalent of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, sought to share power while their Egyptian brethren did not.

Now Tarek Masoud, the author of a fascinating new book on Islamists and elections entitled “Counting Islam,” suggests that Tunisia’s success and Egypt’s failure had less to do with the quality of its Islamists than with deep differences in those countries’ political environments. Tunisia is more developed, more urban, more literate, and more globalized than Egypt.

It has a more diverse civil society than Egypt, stronger labor unions, civic associations, professional groups, and so there was relative parity between Islamists and their opponents. Tunisia’s Islamic party shared power, in other words, not because it was nicer than the Muslim Brotherhood, but because it had to. Tunisia had more of the preconditions that have historically helped strengthen democracy than did Egypt.

Of course, Tunisia faces many economic challenges. Its youth unemployment rate is around 30 percent. The government is battling Islamist militants at home and recent reports have suggested that the Arab world’s only democracy is also its biggest exporter of fighters to join ISIS. Though this may be because Tunisia is relatively open and not a closed police state like Egypt.

But Tunisia’s relative success does suggest there is nothing inherent in Islam or Arab society that makes it impossible for democracy to take root there. You need favorable economic and political conditions for sure in the Arab world as elsewhere. You need good leadership, and you probably need some luck.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1411/02/fzgps.01.html

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FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: But first here’s my take. Watching the gruesome ISIS execution videos I felt some of the same emotions I did after 9/11. Barbarism after all is designed to provoke anger, and it’s succeeded. But in September 2001 it also made me ask a question, why do they hate us?

I tried to answer it in an almost 7,000-word essay for “Newsweek” that struck a chord with the readers. I reread the essay this week to see how it might need updating in the 13 years since I wrote it. I began the piece by noting that Islamic terror is not the isolated behavior of a handful of nihilists. There is a broader culture that has been complicit in it or at least unwilling to combat it.

Now things have changed on this front but not nearly enough. I also pointed out that we face not an Islam problem but an Arab problem. For example, in 2001 and 2002 Indonesia was on the top of people’s worries because of a series of terror attacks there soon after 9/11, but over the last decade jihad and even Islamic fundamentalism has not done well in Indonesia, which is the largest Muslim country in the world, larger than Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Libya and all the Gulf states put together.

Well, look at India which is right next door to Ayman Zawahiri’s headquarters and yet very few of India’s more than 150 million Muslims are known members of al Qaeda. Zawahiri has announced a bold effort to recruit Indian Muslims, but I suspect it will not do too well. The central point of the essay was that the reason the Arab world produces fanaticism and jihad is that it is a place of complete political stagnation. By 2001 when I was writing almost every part of the world had seen significant political progress. Eastern Europe was freed, Asia, Latin America and even Africa had held many free and fair elections but the Arab world remained a desert. In 2001 most Arabs had fewer freedoms, political, economic, social than they did in 1951.

The one aspect of life that Arab dictators could not ban, however, was religion. So Islam had become the language of political opposition to these secular regimes. The Arab world was then left with secular dictatorships on the one hand and deeply illiberal religious groups on the other. Hosni Mubarak and al Qaeda. The more extreme the regime the more violent was the opposition.

This cancer was deeper and more destructive than I realized. Despite the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and despite the Arab spring, the dynamic between dictators and jihadists has not broken. Look at Syria where until recently Bashar al-Assad was actually helping ISIS. How? By buying oil and gas from it and by shelling its opponents, the Free Syrian Army, when the two were in battle against each other.

You see, Assad was playing the old Arab dictator’s game, giving his people a stark choice. It’s either me or ISIS, he was saying, and many Syrians, the Christian minority, for example, have chosen him.

The greatest setback has been in Egypt where a nonviolent Islamist movement took power and then squandered its chance by overreaching. But not content to let the Muslim Brotherhood fare the polls, the military then displaced it by force, has moved back into power and Egypt is now a more brutal police state than it was under Hosni Mubarak. The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned, its members killed and jailed, the rest driven underground.

Let’s just hope that 10 years from now we do not find ourselves discussing the causes of the rise of an ISIS in Egypt.

 

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1409/07/fzgps.01.html

 

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST:

But, first, here’s my take. Let me tell you what worries me most about the events in Egypt. The greatest blow to Islamic terrorism in recent years came not from the killing of Osama bin Laden in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, but rather from the Arab Spring.

When millions of Arabs went out into the streets in protest against their dictators, the world saw that they were asking for freedom and justice, not an Islamic state.

Indeed, perhaps the sharpest blow to the jihadi world view was to see Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Islamist organization in the Arab world, join the 2011 mass demonstrations in Tahrir Square to ask for elections, not Sharia law.

The leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman Zawahiri, an Egyptian, certainly saw the danger and he denounced the Brotherhood for participating in the democratic process.

Now, Morsy’s government, a disaster in many dimensions, was almost certain to be roundly defeated in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Had it failed politically, electorally and democratically, that would have been a huge boost for the forces of liberalism and reform in the Arab world. It would have sent the signal that political Islam may be a heartwarming, romantic idea, but it is utterly unsuited to governing; that mullahs can preach, but they cannot manage an economy.

Instead, the great danger of what has happened in Egypt is that followers of the Muslim Brotherhood will once again become victims, gaining in stature as they are jailed, persecuted and excluded. And some of them will decide that democracy is a dead end.

The most important debate in Egypt since the July 3 ouster of the democratic government is taking place behind closed doors and on websites and chat rooms, and it revolves around this question: How will followers of political Islam respond to the Brotherhood’s ouster?

For decades there has been a dispute among these groups on whether to embrace democracy or work through underground means and methods. The Brotherhood has renounced violence for some 40 years ago and chose to work though social and political organization since then, pressing for democratic change.

This stance was actively criticized and opposed by the many of the more extreme Islamist groups in Egypt and beyond, like al-Qaeda which advocated violent struggle as the only way forward. These groups now feel vindicated.

Somalia’s al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab movement weighed in with a series of tweets. Yes, it has a Twitter account. They went like this, “When will the Muslim Brotherhood wake up from their deep slumber and realize the futility of their efforts at instituting change?”

And, “It’s time for the Brotherhood to revise its policies, adjust its priorities and turn to the one and the only solution for change, “Jihad.”

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood ruled terribly, even unconstitutionally. Were I an Egyptian, I would never vote for the party, but it did win at the polls three times.

It won in the parliamentary elections, in the presidential election and then in its referendum for the new constitution, which passed with 64 percent of the vote.

And what came of all that? Well, last year a judge dissolved the lower house of parliament, and now the constitution has been suspended and the former president is in jail.

Egypt does have a second chance. The military has done some things right since the coup, quickly scheduling elections and the drafting of a new constitution.

But the central challenge it faces is to bring the forces of political Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood, back into the political process. Remember that they still represent millions and millions of Egyptians. The Muslim Brotherhood has to be allowed to compete in elections at every level otherwise Egypt will be neither democratic nor even stable in the foreseeable future.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1307/14/fzgps.01.html

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Fareed Zakaria “But first, here’s my take.

The events in Egypt over the last week have been fascinating, but, also, a bit bewildering. Most of us don’t quite know what to make of them. Is what happened there a good thing or a bad thing?

So, let’s start with some basic facts. The government that was deposed in Egypt was an elected government. Mohamed Morsy’s Freedom and Justice Party won the presidential elections, the parliamentary elections and a referendum to approve a new Egyptian Constitution.

So, there’s no getting around it, this was the party that represented the wishes of the Egyptian people as expressed through the ballot box three times.

On the other hand, the government ruled in an arbitrary and high- handed manner and, in many, many cases, violated human rights and outlawed its political opponents.

President Morsy announced that his decrees were above judicial scrutiny. He banned members of the previous ruling party from participating in politics for 10 years. He did little about the attacks on Egypt’s Christian minority. The Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsy had been a lifelong member, had promised not even to seek the presidency or even a parliamentary majority and it reneged on both pledges creating this new Freedom and Justice Party as a facade.

In 1997, I wrote an essay describing the rise of what I called. “illiberal democracies,” elected governments that were abusing individual rights and freedoms. The Morsy government is a textbook example of such a regime.

But it is important to note that the post-Morsy in Egypt, the current government, does not look like one that is upholding liberty in any sense either.

Indeed, the more the arrests and the crackdowns continue, it looks like the old Mubarak military complex crowned once more over the ashes of democracy.

This has been Egypt’s and the Arab world’s tragedy. These lands are caught between repressive dictatorships on the one hand and illiberal democracies on the other. And from this vicious cycle, there does not seem much space for genuine liberty to break out.

So what should the United States do to help the cause of freedom and stability in Egypt? Well, a suspension of U.S. aid right now would plunge an already bankrupt country into deeper chaos.

But Washington should announce that it will continue its aid for a limited period, say two months, while it determines whether the new government is, in fact, moving to restore genuine democracy in Egypt.

Specifically, it should ask for three things. The end to arbitrary arrests of the Muslim Brotherhood or any groups or people for political opposition. Also, the end of the crackdown on the media in all forms.

The writing of a new constitution through a process that includes all major voices in Egyptian life, the scheduling of parliamentary and presidential elections in which everyone can participate, including and most especially the Muslim Brotherhood.

If these conditions are not met, than Washington will have no alternative than to recognize the reality that this is not the restoration of democracy nor a path to moderation and inclusion, this is a pretty old-fashioned military coup and it should be treated as such.

If you’d like to take a look at that 1997 essay, “The Rise of Illiberal Democracy,” it’s up on our website, cnn.com/fareed. It still holds up pretty well.”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1307/07/fzgps.01.html

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Fareed Zakaria on the Bill Maher show  speaking of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi ” Look, I think this guy is a pretty hard line Muslim Brotherhood guy.  The only correction to your statement I would make is, it’s not Muslim leaders.  This guy is a political Islamist leader.  There are lots of Muslim leaders, the leader of Indonesia, the leader of, you know, Turkey, these guys are secular democratic, right?  But these people who come from parties like the brotherhood, this guy is, from what we can tell, a nasty piece of work.  But, remember though, he has never got more than 25% of the vote.  In the first round he got 25% of the vote.  The secular candidates in Egypt, which were two main ones, got 39% collectively.  In the second round the guy gets 50%, but there was 50% turnout, so still only 25% of the Egyptian electorate has ever voted for this guy.  The army is still there, and I never thought I’d be saying it, but you know, they will be a check on some of his ambitions.  There will be a certain amount of struggle.  If this guy had absolute power in Egypt, I think it would be very bad news.”

Zakaria later in the show “One Muslim country where, ironically, the population is very pro American, you know, you go to Egypt and they don’t like us, you go to Pakistan and they don’t like us.  We’re pouring money into them.  You go to Iran, I was Iran about six months ago, they love Americans.  It’s a great tragedy that’s the one country we want to bomb.”