A compelling article by Carrie Rosefsky Wickham in Foreign Affairs, “The Muslim Brotherhood After Mubarak”
With the end of the Mubarak era looming on the horizon, speculation has turned to whether the Muslim Brotherhood will dominate the new Egyptian political landscape. As the largest, most popular, and most effective opposition group in Egypt, it will undoubtedly seek a role in creating a new government, but the consequences of this are uncertain. Those who emphasize the risk of “Islamic tyranny” aptly note that the Muslim Brotherhood originated as an anti-system group dedicated to the establishment of sharia rule; committed acts of violence against its opponents in the pre-1952 era; and continues to use anti-Western, anti-Zionist, and anti-Semitic rhetoric. But portraying the Brotherhood as eager and able to seize power and impose its version of sharia on an unwilling citizenry is a caricature that exaggerates certain features of the Brotherhood while ignoring others, and underestimates the extent to which the group has changed over time.
Read the rest here. Or, here’s Wickham’s last paragraph:
The Brotherhood has demonstrated that it is capable of evolving over time, and the best way to strengthen its democratic commitments is to include it in the political process, making sure there are checks and balances in place to ensure that no group can monopolize state power and that all citizens are guaranteed certain freedoms under the law. In the foreign policy domain, the Brotherhood rails against “U.S. and Zionist domination,” demands the recognition of Palestinian rights, and may one day seek to revise the terms of Egypt’s relationship with Israel through constitutional channels. The Brotherhood will likely never be as supportive of U.S. and Israeli interests in the region as Mubarak was. Yet here too, the best way for the United States to minimize the risk associated with the likely increase in its power is to encourage and reward judiciousness and pragmatism. With a track record of nearly 30 years of responsible behavior (if not rhetoric) and a strong base of support, the Muslim Brotherhood has earned a place at the table in the post-Mubarak era. No democratic transition can succeed without it.
Wickham’s article charts a more nuanced path between two other articles I just dug up. In the National Review, Andrew C McCarthy suggests we should “fear the Muslim Brotherhood,” while Bruce Riedel insists there’s no reason to fear Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. And here’s another article from yesterday’s New York Times, by Scott Shane, “As Islamist Group Rises, Its Intentions Are Unclear.”
Decide for yourself, but what’s clear is that what happens in Egypt is anyone’s guess…