Outside View: The war in Egypt is on

By JEFF M. MOORE, UPI Outside View Commentator

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 6 (UPI) -- War, maybe in the form of a low-intensity conflict, has descended upon Egypt.

This is no surprise, however. One could see it coming from miles away. This is so for two basic reasons: One is the Muslim Brotherhood's ultimate goals -- it is tightly bolted to them and to the extreme methods it uses to achieve them. Second, it has all happened several times before, a pattern since 1928.


Regarding reason one, the Muslim Brotherhood's goals are to:

1) establish an Islamist Republic in Egypt, and

2) spread Islamism all over the globe.

Islamism -- with an "ism" or an "ist" on the end -- is what we in the West would generally call extremist, Taliban-like beliefs. It isn't moderate, tolerant Islam. Islamism calls for an ultraconservative form of Islam to rule all aspects of life through authoritarian Shariah law: relationships between men and women, politics, banking, economics, warfare, sex -- everything.


It is a system of laws for government and society, not simply a religious moral compass. As Seyyid Qutb wrote in his Muslim Brotherhood manual, "Milestones," this system cannot live side by side with pluralism and democracy and the poisoned societies they produce. These are plainly stated policies by the Muslim Brotherhood's literature, open for anyone to read, much of it on the Internet.

The Muslim Brotherhood believes in spreading Islamism through preaching, politics, and violence, in that order. If people do not willingly submit, then violence is called for.

For the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaida, and like Islamist groups, applying violence in the spread of Islamism is jihad. For moderate Muslims, jihad simply means "utmost effort," not violence. The Muslim Brotherhood states dying for this cause -- martyrdom -- is one of its loftiest ambitions.

The Muslim Brotherhood and other jihadists, such as al-Qaida, also believe in using a tool called taqiya, or the duty to lie in spreading Islamism. Loosely, non-Islamists see taqiya as concealing one's religious beliefs in the most extreme circumstances such as self-defense.

The Muslim Brotherhood has applied these tools in Egypt in the past year, and especially as of late. Mohamed Morsi telling U.S. President Barack Obama the Muslim Brotherhood would not run a presidential candidate and then running for president was taqiya. Morsi telling the Egyptian people the Muslim Brotherhood wouldn't institute Islamist reforms and maintain a pluralistic society and then passing Islamist reforms was taqiya.


More, when the Egyptian military confronted Morsi over using democracy to take over Egypt and insert an Islamist dictatorship, the Muslim Brotherhood's violence and martyrdom aspect took over, and there was a "massacre," as the Brotherhood heralded it.

This was July 28 when the military and Muslim Brotherhood clashed over Morsi's arrest and government overthrow. More fighting and "massacres" happened on around August 14 with about 500 killed.

These weren't only standard operating procedure for the Muslim Brotherhood, they were necessary for it to rally its membership around a bonding event to begin their war.

And with the ambush and killing of 25 police in the Sinai on Aug. 19, their war is on.

And this points to reason two regarding why all the chaos in Egypt is no surprise. It is a repeat of history.

After founding the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, Hassan al-Banna organized some 500,000 followers and rioted and assassinated in attempts to take over Egypt, including killing Prime Minister Nukrashi Pasha on Dec., 28, 1948. Banna instituted taqiya and condemned the hit but pro-Pasha forces saw through it and subsequently killed him. The government banned the Muslim Brotherhood.

In 1952, the Muslim Brotherhood, still strong despite the ban, orchestrated the Cairo Fire that razed nearly 800 buildings, mostly cosmopolitan establishments that catered to foreigners and Egypt's multicultural society. Targets included hotels, movie theaters, eateries, and nightclubs.


In 1954, angry over President Abdel Nasser not turning Egypt into an Islamist state, Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood tried to assassinate Nasser. Government forces foiled the plot, put its key members on trial, executed Qutb, and again banned the Brotherhood.

Afterward, the Muslim Brotherhood asserted taqiya, and, instead of it using violence directly against its political enemies, it used cutout organizations, terror groups with like goals.

The most famous example of the Muslim Brotherhood's new strategy was the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat for making peace with Israel. Carried out by the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the hit was supported by the Muslim Brotherhood. Key assassin Khalid Islambouli was a full-bore member. The government again punished the ringleaders and again banned the Brotherhood.

In the 1990s, the Muslim Brotherhood receded in the face of a brutal secret war against Islamists and like radicals still seeking to overthrow the government. One of these was Ayman al-Zawahiri, former EIJ leader, Muslim Brotherhood member, and ultimately the No. 2 man of al-Qaida, who remains at large.

In the 2000s, the Muslim Brotherhood, emboldened by the rise of al-Qaida and like Islamist jihadist movements, came out of its shell. It began to preach more loudly, it started to harness the Internet and it staged martial arts demonstrations by uniformed members to spread the word of God.


The very patient Muslim Brotherhood was staging a comeback.

Then, revolutions throughout the Middle East, referred to by some as the Arab Spring and to others as the Arab Winter, provided the Muslim Brotherhood with its long-awaited opportunity. It surged into, and took over, the political vacuum left by the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. Non-Islamists begged to differ, however, and the two sides clashed, which led to the current turmoil.

Now, the military-run Egyptian government will reportedly try Morsi and 14 of his cohorts for "committing acts of violence and inciting the killing and thuggery." On Sept. 3, the government announced 49 Muslim Brotherhood members were sentenced for attacking the military. Punishment ranged from five years to life in prison. Arson has occurred against about 44 Christian churches and other places. Counter terror strikes in the Sinai against Islamists are under way. For certain, Egyptian domestic intelligence units are active identifying Muslim Brotherhood cells and leadership. All of this is a repeat of history.

This time, however, the Muslim Brotherhood was elected, taqiya or not. It has waited 70 years for this moment and it will not go quietly. Barring a military-Muslim Brotherhood governing agreement that halts the fighting, then, the Brotherhood will adhere to its philosophy and its members and cutout allies will assert taqiya and kill and die.


The only question is, how intense and widespread will the fighting and dying be? Might it be spread out and "occasional" with the Muslim Brotherhood taking its time, or more intense and full on?

Only time will tell, but for certain, Egypt's domestic war is on, yet again.


(Jeff Moore, Ph.D., is the chief executive officer of Muir Analytics, which assesses threats from insurgent and terror groups against corporations.)


(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

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