Friday, January 28, 2011

Egypt's El Baradie Not An Option

With Egypt in flames and the rioters calling for the head of their dictator, Hosni Mubarak, the question becomes who will replace him should he fall. We all know that the Muslim Brotherhood would be a disaster for both Egypt, Israel and the West. But what about Mohammed El-Baradei, the former head of the IAEA who has entered Egyptian politics as an opponent of Mubarak. While El-Baradei seems to be on friendly terms with Obama, the truth is that he is an Islamist tied directly to the Brotherhood and Iran and, further, that he possesses a distinct animus towards Israel.

To understand El-Baradie's danger to a secular, democratic Egypt, a little background on Egyptian politics and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is necessary for context.

Egyptian Politics:

Egypt has been ruled by a series of dictators since gaining independence from Britain in 1956. The current dictator, Hosni Mubarak, took over following the assassination of Anwar Sadat by militant Islamists in 1981.

Egypt is ruled by a Constitution that technically allows opposition political parties. There are today, at least 18 political parties in Egypt. Most are of recent origin and with little popular following as opposition has been little tolerated during the decades of Mubarak's rule. The Constitution, as amended in 2007, strictly prohibits religiously based political parties - thus nominally putting a wall between mosque and state. That amendment was aimed directly at the ever more influential Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt has been ruled under a decree of martial law since 1967 that suspends portions of the Constitution. Martial law gives military courts the power to try civilians and allows the government to detain for renewable 45-day periods and without court orders anyone deemed to be threatening state security. Public demonstrations are banned under the decree.

The Muslim Brotherhood

The largest opposition group in Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood. Founded by Hassan al-Banna in Egypt in 1928, its motto is:

Allah is our objective.
The Prophet is our leader.
The Qur'an is our law.
Jihad is our way.
Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.

For a detailed discussion of the Muslim Brotherhood, see here. The Muslim Brotherhood is a radical organization that differs from al Qaeda - one of its offshoots - only in tactics. Its ideology is and has always been virulently anti-Western and, more particularly, anti-American. Virtually all Islamic terrorist organizations can trace their origins directly to - or within one or two degrees of separation to - the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood was itself a terrorist organization for much of its existence, but then opted to forgo violence as a tactic. Its goals, to achieve political dominance and create Islamic states ruled by Sharia law, have never changed.

To gain traction amongst the populace of Egypt, the Brotherhood has followed the tactics of Hamas, developing an extensive social services network at the local level. It has made the Brotherhood extremely popular.

This from Wiki showing the reach of the Egyptian Branch of the Muslim Brotherhood:

. . . The Brotherhood now dominates the professional and student associations of Egypt and is famous for its network of social services in neighborhoods and villages. In order to quell the Brotherhood's renewed influence, the government again resorted to repressive measures starting in 1992. . . .

In the 2005 parliamentary elections, the Brotherhood's candidates, who can only stand as independents, won 88 seats (20% of the total) to form the largest opposition bloc, despite many violations of the electoral process, including the arrest of hundreds of Brotherhood members. Meanwhile, the legally approved opposition parties won only 14 seats. . . .

A 2009 WSJ article here throws further light on what Egypt could expect were the Brotherhood to take control:

The Brotherhood has long insisted it holds no prejudice against Christians. Yet an Islamic state -- based on faith, not citizenship rights -- remains the group's core belief. . . .

Later in 2007, the Brotherhood attempted to clarify its vision by distributing a draft program for a political party it aims to establish. The document stated that a woman or a Christian cannot become Egypt's president, and called for the creation of a special council of Islamic clerics to vet legislation. . . .

The latest controversy surrounding the Brotherhood stemmed from its behavior during Israel's Gaza war, a campaign initially seen as a boon to the Islamist movement. Harnessing widespread popular feelings of sympathy with the Palestinian cause, the Brotherhood organized two massive street demonstrations in Alexandria and Cairo during the war, attacking President Mubarak's regime for failing to help Gaza's Hamas rulers.

But these protests soon fizzled. Calls by some Brotherhood leaders to send fighters to Gaza alienated many Egyptians who have no desire to see their own country, at peace with Israel since 1979, embroiled in war once again. . . .

So in short, should the Muslim Brotherhood attain power in Egypt, one could reasonably expect that they would try to create something akin to Iran's theocracy and that they would take an aggressive, military posture against Israel. It would be a disaster.

Mohammed El-Baradei

El-Baradei came to international prominence when he was elected head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1997. The mission of the IAEA is, in part, to "verify that safeguarded nuclear material and activities are not used for military purposes." Laughably, El-Baradei won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his efforts. But the reality of his tenure was insidious. He abused his position to provide cover for Iran while denouncing the logic of non-proliferation. This Feb. 2008 article in the WSJ provides a good summary:

On Friday, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei submitted a report on Iran's nuclear program to the IAEA's Board of Governors. It concluded that, barring "one major remaining issue relevant to the nature of Iran's nuclear programme," . . . Iran's explanations of its suspicious nuclear activities "are consistent with [the IAEA's] findings [or at least] not inconsistent."

The report represents Mr. ElBaradei's best effort to whitewash Tehran's record. Earlier this month, on Iranian television, he made clear his purpose, announcing that he expected "the issue would be solved this year." And if doing so required that he do battle against the IAEA's technical experts, reverse previous conclusions about suspect programs, and allow designees of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an unprecedented role in crafting a "work plan" that would allow the regime to receive a cleaner bill of health from the IAEA — so be it.

. . . [El Baradei] has used his Nobel Prize to cultivate an image of a technocratic lawyer interested in peace and justice and above politics. In reality, he is a deeply political figure, animated by antipathy for the West and for Israel on what has increasingly become a single-minded crusade to rescue favored regimes from charges of proliferation. . . .

The IAEA's mission is to verify that "States comply with their commitments, under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and other non-proliferation agreements, to use nuclear material and facilities only for peaceful purposes." Yet in 2004 Mr. ElBaradei wrote in the New York Times that, "We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction, yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security."

IAEA technical experts have complained anonymously to the press that the latest report on Iran was revamped to suit the director's political goals. In 2004, Mr. ElBaradei sought to purge mention of Iranian attempts to purchase beryllium metal, an important component in a nuclear charge, from IAEA documents. He also left unmentioned Tehran's refusal to grant IAEA inspectors access to the Parchin military complex, where satellite imagery showed a facility seemingly designed to test and produce nuclear weapons.

The IAEA's latest report leaves unmentioned allegations by an Iranian opposition group of North Korean work on nuclear warheads at Khojir, a military research site near Tehran. It also amends previous conclusions and closes the book on questions about Iran's work on polonium 210 — which nuclear experts suspect Iran experimented with for use as an initiator for nuclear weapons, but which the regime claims was research on radioisotope batteries. In 2004, the IAEA declared itself "somewhat uncertain regarding the plausibility of the stated purpose of the [polonium] experiments." Today it finds these explanations "consistent with the Agency's findings and with other information available."

The IAEA director seems intent on undercutting Security Council diplomacy. Just weeks after President George Bush toured the Middle East to build Arab support for pressure on Tehran, Mr. ElBaradei appeared on Egyptian television on Feb. 5 to urge Arabs in the opposite direction, insisting Iran was cooperating and should not be pressured. And as he grows more and more isolated from Western powers intent on disarming Iran, Mr. ElBaradei has found champions in the developing and Arab world. They cheer his self-imposed mission — to hamstring U.S. efforts to constrain Iran's program, whether or not the regime is violating its non-proliferation obligations or pursuing nuclear weapons. . . .

El-Baradei's deep favoritism shown to Iran has paid off for him - literally. After he left the IAEA to enter politics, MEMRI reports that Iran funnelled $7 million to him in order to bankroll his political opposition to Mubarak. Evidently the ties between El-Baradei and Iran run deep.

But it is not just Iran with whom El-Baradei has very troubling ties. He is also in partnership with the Muslim Brotherhood. On Feb. 26, 2010, after a meeting with the Muslim Brotherhood among others, El-Baradei announced the formation of a new political movement, the National Association for Change. Chief among its stated concerns was repeal of the law preventing the Muslim Brotherhood from nominating religiously based candidates for office. El-Baradei repeated that call in a Der Spiegel interview days ago, while wholly sidestepping the question of what a Muslim Brotherhood rise to power in Egypt would mean for Israel:

SPIEGEL: Israel fears a revolution in Egypt. Many people in Jerusalem believe that the Muslim Brotherhood would then come to power and declare war on the Jewish state.

ElBaradei: We should stop demonizing the Muslim Brotherhood. It is incorrect that our only choice is between oppression under Mubarak and the chaos of religious extremists. I have many differences with the Muslim Brotherhood. But they have not committed any acts of violence in five decades. They too want change. If we want democracy and freedom, we have to include them instead of marginalizing them.

El-Baradei, in 2009, stated that he viewed "Israel as the greatest threat to the Middle East." Caroline Glick, for her part, views the above and sees in El-Baradei an Islamist in sheep's clothing and a clear threat to Israel. That too is my conclusion. If as seems possible, Obama should soon have a decision to make regarding whether to support El-Baradei for a position in a post-Mubarak government, he should know that doing so would run completely counter to our nation's interests.


Ex-Dissident said...

John Bolton's view on these demonstrations are informative.

OBloodyHell said...

Thanks for this, GW. I'm going to post some links to your blog in a couple other appropriate blog entries' comments elsewhere.

GW said...

Thx all