Thursday,21 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1380, (8 - 14 February 2018)
Thursday,21 February, 2019
Issue 1380, (8 - 14 February 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Better late than never

The US State Department placed last week two Egyptian terrorist organisations affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood group, Hasm and Lewaa Al-Thawra, on its “Specially Designated Global Terrorist Groups” list. This is a long overdue step, but remains a positive development that should be welcomed by all parties involved in the global fight against terrorism. Better late than never.

Since 3 July 2013, when Egypt’s army intervened to remove former president and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi in response to widespread popular demonstrations demanding an end to the Muslim Brotherhood’s failed one-year rule, the nearly 100-year-old group decided to opt for terrorism.

Muslim Brotherhood leaders, inside and outside Egypt, simply decided to declare war against the Egyptian people. Mohamed Al-Beltagi, a prominent Brotherhood leader, stated in firm words that, “The moment Morsi returns to power, all violence that we see in Sinai will come to an end.” The groups that are active in Sinai are Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, and not any so-called moderate groups, raising even more serious questions on the connection between the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorism.

Over more than four years, the group — officially designated in Egypt as terrorist, since 2013 — has been playing the victim’s role in propaganda addressed to the outside world, and particularly towards the former Obama administration and key European nations.

However, on the ground in Egypt, leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood justified the use of violence and terror and launched armed and arson attacks against vital public utilities, such as electricity grids, in an attempt to turn the public against the new regime. Through armed wings such as Hasm and Lewaa Al-Thawra, the group also assassinated top officials, such former prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat, and other senior army and police officials.

The group failed to learn a crystal-clear lesson despite their long history: the Egyptian people reject any political organisation that uses violence and terror to achieve political goals, even if done, and falsely, in the name of religion.

During his election campaign, US President Donald Trump made firm statements that he would strongly support Egypt’s government in its fight against terrorism and agreed with the official point of view that the Muslim Brotherhood was the key organisation that supported terrorism all over the Middle East, though its leaders issue statements claiming commitment to peaceful means only.

However, after Trump became president, several key members in the Senate and House objected to efforts by the White House to list the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, and continued to allow some of its leaders to address various committees and perform the victim’s role.

In justifying its decision to list Hasm and Lewaa Al-Thawra as terrorist organisations, US State Department officials said they were aware that “some leaders of the two groups were previously associated with the Brotherhood”. If that was the case, what could be the possible justification by Congress members to refrain from taking a similar step towards the mother organisation, whose ideology and instructions clearly supported and justified the use of violence?

Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid welcomed the decision made by the US in relation to Hasm and Lewaa Al-Thawra. He regarded the decision as a positive development in the recognition of Egypt’s international partners, primarily the United States, of the danger the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots pose to the security and stability of Egypt and its people.

He also noted that the US decision was a practical display of solidarity with Egypt against terrorism and despicable attempts that aim to hinder its developmental trajectory and economic launch. He added that, “this stance was recently expressed by US officials at the highest levels, and represents an important step forward towards adopting an international comprehensive and effective strategy to eradicate and root out terrorism.”

The Egyptian government and the Egyptian people now expect a more decisive step by the United States to put in practice what’s being said in closed rooms, confirming the conviction that the Muslim Brotherhood group is not different from any other terrorist organisation that abuses religion to serve political purposes.

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