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Corporatism and the Muslim Brotherhood

Hamas (Pales­tin­ian Mus­lim Broth­er­hood) Sol­diers Salut­ing

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COMMENT: For many years, we have cov­ered the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, an Islam­ic fas­cist orga­ni­za­tion allied with the Axis in World War II and nur­tured by ele­ments of West­ern intel­li­gence dur­ing the Cold War as anti-com­mu­nist cadre.

They have functioned–and con­tin­ue to function–as foot sol­diers for the Under­ground Reich. The German/Islamist alliance is old and con­tin­ues to this day.

We have also cov­ered the pro­found rela­tion­ship between the GOP and the Broth­er­hood, man­i­fest­ed in the alliance between the Ikhwan and Grover Norquist and Karl Rove’s Islam­ic Free Mar­ket Insti­tute. (The lat­ter ele­ments were cen­tral­ly involved in the insti­tu­tions tar­get­ed in the inves­ti­ga­tion into ter­ror­ist fund­ing under Oper­a­tion Green Quest.)

As the main­stream press and the so-called pro­gres­sive sec­tor were falling all over them­selves hail­ing the “Arab Spring,” we not­ed that Wik­iLeaks-assist­ed covert oper­a­tion was designed to bring “cor­po­ratism” to the Mus­lim World. (Mus­soli­ni called his fas­cist sys­tem “cor­po­ratism.”)

In Jan­u­ary 2012, Salon.com pub­lished a very reveal­ing piece that pret­ty much lays it all out. The only flaw in the arti­cle is its down­play­ing of the endem­ic vio­lence which char­ac­ter­izes the Brotherhood–Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Pales­tin­ian Islam­ic Jihad are off­shoots of the Broth­er­hood.

While perus­ing this, do exam­ine a pre­vi­ous post on theo­crat­ic free-mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism (fea­tur­ing an impor­tant update since first pub­lished.)

As the fas­cist regime of Mohamed Mor­si sings its swan song, it is worth con­tem­plat­ing the nature of the forces embod­ied in it.

“The GOP Broth­er­hood of Egypt” by Avi Ash­er-Schapiro; Salon.com; 1/25/2012.

EXCERPT: While West­ern alarmists often depict Egypt’s Mus­lim Broth­er­hood as a shad­owy orga­ni­za­tion with ter­ror­ist ties, the Brotherhood’s ide­ol­o­gy actu­al­ly has more in com­mon with America’s Repub­li­can Par­ty than with al-Qai­da. Few Amer­i­cans know it but the Broth­er­hood is a free-mar­ket par­ty led by wealthy busi­ness­men whose eco­nom­ic agen­da embraces pri­va­ti­za­tion and for­eign invest­ment while spurn­ing labor unions and the redis­tri­b­u­tion of wealth. Like the Repub­li­cans in the U.S., the finan­cial inter­ests of the party’s lead­er­ship of busi­ness­men and pro­fes­sion­als diverge sharply from those of its poor, social­ly con­ser­v­a­tive fol­low­ers.

The Broth­er­hood, which did not ini­tial­ly sup­port the rev­o­lu­tion that began a year ago, reaped its ben­e­fits, cap­tur­ing near­ly half the seats in the new par­lia­ment, which was seat­ed this week, and vault­ing its top lead­ers into posi­tions of pow­er.

Arguably the most pow­er­ful man in the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood is Khairat Al-Shater, a mul­ti­mil­lion­aire tycoon whose finan­cial inter­ests extend into elec­tron­ics, man­u­fac­tur­ing and retail. A strong advo­cate of pri­va­ti­za­tion, Al-Shater is one of a cadre of Mus­lim Broth­er­hood busi­ness­men who helped finance the Brotherhood’s Free­dom and Jus­tice Party’s impres­sive elec­toral vic­to­ry this win­ter and is now craft­ing the FJP’s eco­nom­ic agen­da.

At Al-Shater’s lux­u­ry fur­ni­ture out­let Istak­bal, a new couch costs about 6,000 Egypt­ian pounds, about $1,000 in U.S. cur­ren­cy. In a coun­try where 40 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion lives on less than $2 a day, Istakbal’s clien­tele is large­ly lim­it­ed to Egypt’s upper class­es.

Although the Broth­ers do draw sig­nif­i­cant sup­port from Egypt’s poor and work­ing class, “the Broth­er­hood is a firm­ly upper-mid­dle-class orga­ni­za­tion in its lead­er­ship,” says Sha­di Hamid, a lead­ing Mus­lim Broth­er­hood expert at the Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion in Wash­ing­ton.

Not sur­pris­ing­ly, these well-to-do Egyp­tians are eager to safe­guard their eco­nom­ic posi­tion in the post-Mubarak Egypt. Despite ris­ing eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ty and pover­ty, the Broth­er­hood does not back rad­i­cal changes in Egypt’s econ­o­my.

The FJP’s eco­nom­ic plat­form is a tame doc­u­ment, rife with promis­es to root out cor­rup­tion and tweak Egypt’s tax and sub­si­dies sys­tems, with occa­sion­al allu­sions to an unspe­cif­ic com­mit­ment to “social jus­tice.” The plat­form prais­es the mech­a­nisms of the free mar­ket and promis­es that the par­ty will work for “bal­anced, sus­tain­able and com­pre­hen­sive eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment.” It is a pro­gram that any Euro­pean con­ser­v­a­tive par­ty could get behind. . . .

Discussion

5 comments for “Corporatism and the Muslim Brotherhood”

  1. David Atkins has a great piece explor­ing the con­flict­ing prin­ci­ples at work when a mil­i­tary over­throws an elect­ed gov­ern­ment that appears intent on impos­ing a theoc­ra­cy (or some oth­er form of total­i­tar­i­an­ism). There’s also a clip of Chris Hayes’s All In from last night’s episode that starts off with an inter­view of one of the Egypt­ian pro­test­ers explain­ing what prompt­ed protests on this scale. It’s worth watch­ing for some of the con­text around what the pro­test­ers are look­ing for in future gov­ern­ments.

    And here’s a reminder from back in March of the kind of per­ma­nent direc­tion insti­tu­tion­al for­mal Islamist rule that Mor­si and his allies were try­ing to take the coun­try dur­ing the bat­tle over Egyp­t’s new con­sti­tu­tion last year. The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood made it clear over the last year that is was­n’t inter­est­ed in build­ing a real demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety. It want­ed a future that would look a lot like this on a bad day for the MB:

    Egyp­t’s Islam­ic author­i­ty asserts role, clash­es with Broth­er­hood

    By Tom Per­ry

    CAIRO | Thu Mar 28, 2013 6:31pm GMT

    (Reuters) — Egyp­t’s lead­ing Islam­ic author­i­ty Al-Azhar said on Thurs­day its cler­ics must be con­sult­ed on a law allow­ing the state to issue Islam­ic bonds, set­ting it at odds with the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood which drove the leg­is­la­tion through par­lia­ment last week.

    It marks the first time Al-Azhar, a thou­sand-year-old seat of Islam­ic learn­ing, has said its Senior Schol­ars Author­i­ty should be con­sult­ed on issues per­tain­ing to Islam­ic law as set out in Egyp­t’s new, Islamist-tinged con­sti­tu­tion.

    Al-Azhar’s inter­ven­tion could set a prece­dent for cler­i­cal over­sight of oth­er affairs of state. The Salafi Nour Par­ty has said Al-Azhar must also approve an agree­ment Egypt is seek­ing with the Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund because it includes a loan upon which Egypt will pay inter­est.

    The Islam­ic bond, or sukuk law, will allow Egypt to issue debt com­pli­ant with Islam­ic prin­ci­ples, allow­ing the state to tap a new area of finance as Pres­i­dent Mohamed Mur­si’s admin­is­tra­tion grap­ples with an unaf­ford­able bud­get deficit.

    The sukuk law has been a source of fric­tion between the Broth­er­hood, whose Free­dom and Jus­tice Par­ty leads the upper house of par­lia­ment, and more hard­line Islamists who say it should first have been approved by Al-Azhar.

    At a meet­ing on Thurs­day, Al-Azhar’s Islam­ic Research Insti­tute chaired by Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb said it shared the view that the law should have been referred to the Senior Schol­ars Author­i­ty, in line with the new con­sti­tu­tion.

    “The Insti­tute is of the opin­ion that the draft should have been referred to the Senior Schol­ars Author­i­ty for dis­cus­sion and so it could give its legal opin­ion, in line with its duty,” it said in a state­ment.

    It crit­i­cised the law approved by par­lia­ment last week, say­ing it empow­ered the prime min­is­ter to form the body entrust­ed with issu­ing the Islam­ic bonds. It said this “dis­re­gard­ed the Senior Schol­ars Author­i­ty of the noble Azhar”.

    ...

    Al-Azhar’s role in affairs of state is embed­ded in arti­cle four of the new con­sti­tu­tion. It says the Senior Schol­ars Author­i­ty must be con­sult­ed on all mat­ters per­tain­ing to sharia.

    It does not, how­ev­er, say whether Al-Azhar’s view is bind­ing on the gov­ern­ment, nor does it make clear the scope of Al-Azhar’s role — ambi­gu­i­ty which crit­ics say will cause future polit­i­cal and legal con­flict.

    It’s pret­ty obvi­ous that the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood was plan­ning are far greater changes and more per­ma­nent changes to Egyp­t’s soci­ety. So while the mil­i­tary coup puts cre­ates a num­ber of very real dilem­mas, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind the last year of extreme Mus­lim Broth­er­hood antics that cre­at­ed this awful sit­u­a­tion where a coup is even con­sid­ered. And maybe that will be their biggest weapon against the future: being so bad at democ­ra­cy that they made a coup seem like a good idea. “Coups for free­dom!” isn’t a healthy meme but it’s the per­fect farewell for the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s first awful year of rule.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 3, 2013, 7:59 pm
  2. http://m.gulfnews.com/news/uae/connecting-the-dots‑1.1204733

    Tri­al revealed com­pli­cat­ed net­work of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood finances
    Gulf News Report
    July 2, 2013

    Dubai: Lit­tle was known in this coun­try about what has tran­spired as an amaz­ing web of links and col­lab­o­ra­tion between the inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tion of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and affil­i­at­ed groups in the UAE and oth­er Arab states.

    But the tri­al of 94 Emi­ratis, which con­clud­ed yes­ter­day with con­vic­tion of 69 defen­dants of being mem­bers of a clan­des­tine group that plot­ted to under­mine secu­ri­ty and seize pow­er, revealed a vast polit­i­cal, ide­o­log­i­cal and finan­cial net­work led by the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood main front, the Europe Trust, led by senior Mus­lim Broth­er­hood leader Ahmed Al Rawi.

    Accord­ing to doc­u­ments obtained by Gulf News yes­ter­day, inves­ti­ga­tors have con­clud­ed that “ the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood has a glob­al foot­print, with the UK and Ire­land serv­ing as impor­tant hubs for inter­na­tion­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood lead­er­ship activ­i­ty.”

    They also said that “mem­bers of the UAE branch of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, Al Islah [whose mem­bers have been among those con­vict­ed in Abu Dhabi yes­ter­day] are active in Mus­lim Broth­er­hood net­works in the UK and Ire­land.”

    “Enti­ties affil­i­at­ed with Al Eslah in the UAE and the UK have been tied to glob­al ter­ror­ist sup­port activ­i­ty, as iden­ti­fied pub­licly by U.S and oth­er coun­tert­er­ror­ism author­i­ties,” one doc­u­ment said.

    The doc­u­ments also explain a long his­to­ry of shad­owy activ­i­ties and links led by exiled Mus­lim Broth­er­hood lead­ers who had escaped their home­lands and found safe havens in the UK and Europe to lead and prop­a­gate the Brotherhood’s cross-bor­der activ­i­ties.

    In the Gulf, offi­cials have always warned of the Broth­er­hood threat as the group doesn’t rec­og­nize mod­ern state sov­er­eign­ty and pre­vail­ing laws.

    At a press con­fer­ence with his Ukrain­ian coun­ter­part, Kostyan­tyn Gryshchenko, in Abu Dhabi on Octo­ber 12, 2012, UAE For­eign Min­is­ter Shaikh Abdul­lah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan denounced the Broth­er­hood as “an organ­i­sa­tion which encroach­es upon sov­er­eign­ty and integri­ty of nations”.

    “The Mus­lim Brotherhood’s think­ing does not recog­nise bor­ders or sov­er­eign­ty of nations. So, it is not unusu­al that the inter­na­tion­al Broth­er­hood organ­i­sa­tion works to make inroads upon sov­er­eign­ty and laws of coun­tries,” he added.

    The court doc­u­ments show how mon­ey was chan­neled from dif­fer­ent char­i­ties in the UAE, run by some of the Islah mem­bers, to the Europe Trust though a com­pli­cat­ed web of inter­me­di­ate com­pa­nies and insti­tu­tions.

    Posted by Vanfield | July 15, 2013, 3:07 pm
  3. The Googliza­tion of the Far Right: Why is Google Fund­ing Grover Norquist, Her­itage Action and ALEC?

    http://www.prwatch.org/news/2013/11/12319/google-funding-grover-norquist-heritage-action-alec-and-more

    I’m not sure where to put this. I real­ly just want­ed you to see the arti­cle. Feel free to delete.

    Posted by Jim | December 4, 2013, 10:43 am
  4. @Jim: Maybe if Google cud­dles up to enough cor­po­ratists they’ll final­ly get that Island Lar­ry Page has been pin­ing for recent­ly where laws that get in the way of inno­va­tion won’t have to be obeyed. Some­day Lar­ry...some­day...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 5, 2013, 2:54 pm
  5. The US elec­torate got a dis­turb­ing pre­view of the Trump 2020 cam­paign this week. Dis­turb­ing, but not unex­pect­ed. The cam­paign theme appears to be a racial­ly-tar­get­ed ver­sion of “Amer­i­ca, Love it or leave it!”, but clos­er to “Trump, Love him or leave!” It start­ed on Mon­day when Pres­i­dent Trump start­ed rage-tweet­ing about his four favorite Demo­c­ra­t­ic tar­gets: Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez (AOC), Rashi­da Tlaib, Ayan­na Press­ley, and Ilhan Omar. The Repub­li­can par­ty and right-wing media are invest­ing heav­i­ly into mak­ing these four mem­bers of con­gress the ‘face’ of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty so they can basi­cal­ly turn every con­gres­sion­al race into a sym­bol­ic proxy-vote on whether or not vot­ers sup­port those four mem­bers of con­gress. Trump tweet­ed that the four should ‘go back to where they came from’ for the audac­i­ty of ‘telling Amer­i­cans how to run their gov­ern­ment’:

    So inter­est­ing to see “Pro­gres­sive” Demo­c­rat Con­gress­women, who orig­i­nal­ly came from coun­tries whose gov­ern­ments are a com­plete and total cat­a­stro­phe, the worst, most cor­rupt and inept any­where in the world (if they even have a func­tion­ing gov­ern­ment at all), now loudly......&mdash, Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019

    ....and vicious­ly telling the peo­ple of the Unit­ed States, the great­est and most pow­er­ful Nation on earth, how our gov­ern­ment is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the total­ly bro­ken and crime infest­ed places from which they came. Then come back and show us how....&mdash, Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019

    ....it is done. These places need your help bad­ly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nan­cy Pelosi would be very hap­py to quick­ly work out free trav­el arrangements!&mdash, Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019

    Note that Ilhan Omar is the only one of the four who was­n’t born in the US, but all four are non-white, mak­ing this series of tweets an unam­bigu­ous white nation­al­ist dog-whis­tle.

    Two days lat­er, dog-whistling explod­ed into crowd chants when, dur­ing a Trump cam­paign ral­ly in North Car­oli­na on Wednes­day, Trump went off on a rant against Omar and the crowd start­ed chant­i­ng “send her back!” while Trump stood there and let the chant play out. Then, the next day, Trump trolled to coun­try by insist­ing that he did­n’t approve of the “send her back!” chant­i­ng and had actu­al­ly inter­rupt­ed the crowd to stop it (despite the fact that it was tele­vised). And, of course, he has flipped again and is now large­ly sup­port­ive of the “send her back!” sen­ti­ments by insist­ing that he will win Omar’s home state of Min­neso­ta in 2020 because Omar is so hat­ed because of her hatred of Amer­i­ca.

    So it appears that Ilhan Omar might end up eclips­ing AOC as the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s polit­i­cal straw­man-of-choice for 2020. Giv­en that dis­turb­ing polit­i­cal dynam­ic, here’s an arti­cle from back in Decem­ber that high­lights one of the oth­er Trump-aligned polit­i­cal fac­tions that has already been wag­ing a pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign against Ilhan Omar and, to a less­er extent, Rashi­da Tlaib: The gov­ern­ments of Sau­di Ara­bia and the UAE.

    Yes, it turns out that the Sau­di and UAE gov­ern­ments have an extreme hatred of Omar and gov­ern­ment-run media in those coun­tries has been focus­ing so much on her that it has sparked debates online and on tele­vi­sion over the extent of the cov­er­age. It’s impor­tant to note that much of the anti-Omar cov­er­age appears to be mixed with pro-Trump mes­sag­ing too.

    The nature of the attacks tend to be accu­sa­tions that Omar is a secret mem­ber of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and part of a larg­er alliance between the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, which is a par­tic­u­lar­ly iron­ic charge giv­en both the exten­sive ide­o­log­i­cal over­lap between the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s cor­po­ratist and theo­crat­ic ide­ol­o­gy and the Repub­li­can Par­ty, in addi­tion the very real his­to­ry Repub­li­can oper­a­tives like Grover Norquist played in obscur­ing both Sau­di and Mus­lim Broth­er­hood links to the 9/11 attacks. Omar is also being attacked by the Sau­di and UAE media for her ties to the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR) and CAIR’s ties to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, which, again, is high­ly iron­ic giv­en the exten­sive Sau­di finan­cial sup­port and ide­o­log­i­cal influ­ence over CAIR along with the exten­sive and long-stand­ing close ties between the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and the Sau­di gov­ern­ment in gen­er­al. Ties that only seem to have frayed in recent years fol­low­ing the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s suc­cess in com­ing to pow­er across the region via the ‘Arab Spring’ protests. But some of the attacks on Omar are also sim­ply racist in nature since Omar comes from Soma­lia and racism against blacks is appar­ent­ly quite preva­lent in Sau­di and UAE media.

    That’s all part of the grand irony of the Trump/GOP focus on Ilhan Omar as a polit­i­cal straw­man who hates Amer­i­ca and democ­ra­cy: they’re fol­low­ing the lead of Sau­di Ara­bia and UAE:

    For­eign Pol­i­cy

    Sau­di Ara­bia Declares War on America’s Mus­lim Con­gress­women
    Gulf Arab monar­chies are using racism, big­otry, and fake news to denounce Wash­ing­ton’s newest his­to­ry-mak­ing politi­cians.

    BY OLA SALEM | DECEMBER 11, 2018, 5:13 PM

    Ever since the midterm elec­tion, con­ser­v­a­tive media in the Unit­ed States have tar­get­ed with spe­cial zeal Ilhan Omar, an incom­ing Soma­li-Amer­i­can Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­gress­woman and a devout Mus­lim who wears hijab. In response to Democ­rats’ push to remove a head­wear ban on the House floor to accom­mo­date Omar, con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tor and pas­tor E.W. Jack­son com­plained on a radio show that Mus­lims were trans­form­ing Con­gress into an “Islam­ic repub­lic.”

    The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty has sev­er­al ris­ing polit­i­cal stars with Arab or Mus­lim back­grounds, all of whom have become objects of such con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. But it’s not only Amer­i­can con­ser­v­a­tives who have been indulging in this cul­ture war. The orga­nized attacks have also been com­ing from abroad—specifically, from Sau­di Ara­bia and the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates.

    The midterm elec­tions have ampli­fied an exist­ing sus­pi­cion in Mid­dle East­ern media of Mus­lim polit­i­cal activism in the Unit­ed States. Aca­d­e­mics, media out­lets, and com­men­ta­tors close to Per­sian Gulf gov­ern­ments have repeat­ed­ly accused Omar, Rashi­da Tlaib (anoth­er new­ly elect­ed Mus­lim con­gress­woman), and Abdul El-Sayed (who made a failed bid to become gov­er­nor of Michi­gan) of being secret mem­bers of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood who are hos­tile to the gov­ern­ments of Sau­di Ara­bia and the UAE. On Sun­day, Sau­di-owned Al Ara­biya pub­lished a fea­ture insin­u­at­ing that Omar and Tlaib were part of an alliance between the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty and Islamist groups to con­trol Con­gress. The arti­cle accused the two of being “anti-Trump and his polit­i­cal team and options, espe­cial­ly his for­eign pol­i­cy start­ing from the sanc­tions on Iran to the iso­la­tion of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and all move­ments of polit­i­cal Islam.”

    In anoth­er exam­ple, a talk show on Sau­di-owned sta­tion MBC dis­cussed the Mus­lim con­gress­women and more broad­ly the impli­ca­tions of Democ­rats tak­ing the House. Promi­nent Arab anchor Amr Adib debat­ed the mat­ter with Egypt­ian polit­i­cal sci­en­tist Moataz Fat­tah, who sug­gest­ed that Trump’s suc­cess­ful com­bat­ing of Islamists would be under­mined by the Democ­rats’ vic­to­ry. The attacks have become so ubiq­ui­tous in the Per­sian Gulf that the trend itself is the sub­ject of debate, both online and on tele­vi­sion.

    Occa­sion­al­ly these attacks have been made by offi­cials of those gov­ern­ments, in appar­ent anx­i­ety that their coun­tries’ expen­sive pub­lic rela­tions and lob­by­ing efforts might be under­mined. Just hours after Omar won her elec­tion, for exam­ple, a staffer at the Sau­di Embassy in the Unit­ed States accused her of fol­low­ing the ide­ol­o­gy of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, which he said has per­me­at­ed the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. “She will be hos­tile to the Gulf and a sup­port­er of the polit­i­cal Islam rep­re­sent­ed in the Broth­er­hood in the Mid­dle East,” tweet­ed Faisal al-Sham­meri, a cul­tur­al advi­sor at the Sau­di Ara­bi­an Cul­tur­al Mis­sion to the Unit­ed States, which is part of the embassy, and a writer for Al Ara­biya.

    El-Sayed, an Amer­i­can born to Egypt­ian immi­grants, noticed the attacks from the region dur­ing his cam­paign. Media in the Mid­dle East ampli­fied accu­sa­tions by a Repub­li­can can­di­date for gov­er­nor, Patrick Col­beck, that El-Sayed had links to the Broth­er­hood. Egypt­ian news­pa­per Youm7, for instance, report­ed that El-Sayed like­ly lost the elec­tion to his link to the “rad­i­cal” Nation of Islam, and his rela­tion­ship with Mus­lim-Amer­i­can activist Lin­da Sar­sour, “known for her rad­i­cal views.”

    El-Sayed told me that polit­i­cal elites in places like Egypt, Sau­di Ara­bia, and the UAE felt threat­ened by Amer­i­can politi­cians who are also Mus­lim. For aver­age Mid­dle East­ern­ers, his sto­ry is inspir­ing. (The clear­est instance of Mid­dle East­ern­ers draw­ing such inspi­ra­tion, iron­i­cal­ly, was the first pres­i­den­tial elec­tion vic­to­ry of Barack Oba­ma, who faced false accu­sa­tions of being a Mus­lim.)

    The rise of politi­cians like El-Sayed, Omar, and Tlaib also under­mines a core argu­ment advanced by dic­ta­tors in the Mid­dle East: that their peo­ple are not ready for democ­ra­cy. “Peo­ple would not have access to pow­er in their coun­tries but they would if they leave, this destroys the argu­ment by Sisi or bin Salman,” El-Sayed said, refer­ring to Egypt­ian Pres­i­dent Abdel Fat­tah al-Sisi and Sau­di Ara­bi­an Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “What’s iron­ic is there is no way I would aspire to be in lead­er­ship in Egypt, the place of my fathers.”

    Amer­i­can allies in the region also fear that the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party’s new Arab lead­ers will advo­cate for polit­i­cal change in their coun­tries. Hav­ing spent mil­lions of dol­lars for pub­lic rela­tions cam­paigns in West­ern cap­i­tals, the Per­sian Gulf coun­tries feel threat­ened by any pol­i­cy­mak­ers with an inde­pen­dent inter­est in and knowl­edge of the region. They have thus framed these offi­cials’ prin­ci­pled objec­tions to region­al vio­la­tions of human rights and demo­c­ra­t­ic norms as mat­ters of per­son­al bias. One com­men­ta­tor, who is known to echo gov­ern­ment talk­ing points and is fre­quent­ly retweet­ed by gov­ern­ment offi­cials, recent­ly spread the rumor that Omar is a descen­dent of a “Houthi Yemeni” to under­mine her attacks on the Sau­di-led war on Yemen.

    The most com­mon attack online by the Sau­di-led bloc on the Mus­lim-Amer­i­can Democ­rats has been to label them as mem­bers of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, or more gen­er­al­ly as ikhwan­ji, an extrem­ist catch-all term. These attacks start­ed long before this year’s elec­tions. In 2014, the UAE even announced a ter­ror list that includ­ed the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR) for its alleged links to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood.

    The attacks attempt­ing to tie Omar and Tlaib to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood start­ed in earnest after CAIR pub­licly wel­comed their elec­tion to Con­gress. One UAE-based aca­d­e­m­ic, Najat al-Saeed, crit­i­cized Ara­bic media for cel­e­brat­ing the two Mus­lim women’s vic­to­ries at the midterms, and point­ed to CAIR’s sup­port for them as evi­dence of their ties to the Broth­er­hood.

    The attacks on Omar have also indulged in racism. While Tlaib and Omar have both been the tar­gets of smears, it’s been eas­i­er for Gulf Arabs to sin­gle out Omar for insults because of her African her­itage. Neg­a­tive stereo­types about Africans— who serve as poor­ly treat­ed migrant work­ers in the Gulf’s oil econ­o­my— are wide­spread through­out the region.

    This was evi­dent in the social media cam­paign launched last month against Omar by Ahmad al-Far­raj, a Sau­di writer and researcher with UAE-based Trends Research and Advisory—a firm found­ed by a for­mer Dubai police offi­cial and con­sul­tant. He attacked Omar for crit­i­ciz­ing Trump’s mut­ed response to the CIA assess­ment that Sau­di Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman like­ly direct­ed the mur­der of for­mer U.S.-based Sau­di jour­nal­ist Jamal Khashog­gi at the Sau­di Ara­bi­an con­sulate in Istan­bul. “These mis­er­able beings com­ing from the under­de­vel­oped worlds are more hate­ful to their race and to you than any ene­my,” Al Far­raj tweet­ed to his more than 60,000 fol­low­ers. A steady stream of racist attacks fol­lowed in response. One per­son tweet­ed a pic­ture of Omar accom­pa­nied by the cap­tion “when­ev­er you buy a slave, buy a stick along with the slave. The slave is mis­er­able filth.”

    Oth­er than the flur­ry of racist com­ments, Omar was trolled based on two false accu­sa­tions: that she was a mem­ber of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and that she had mar­ried her broth­er. Hash­tags also began trend­ing with dozens of anony­mous accounts tweet­ing slight­ly dif­fer­ent vari­a­tions of the same lan­guage, and echo­ing known gov­ern­ment-affil­i­at­ed accounts. The pat­tern is typ­i­cal of Twit­ter troll armies that seem to be used reg­u­lar­ly by Mohammed bin Salman to silence the kingdom’s crit­ics.

    ...

    ———-

    “Sau­di Ara­bia Declares War on America’s Mus­lim Con­gress­women” by OLA SALEM, For­eign Pol­i­cy, 12/11/2018

    “The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty has sev­er­al ris­ing polit­i­cal stars with Arab or Mus­lim back­grounds, all of whom have become objects of such con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. But it’s not only Amer­i­can con­ser­v­a­tives who have been indulging in this cul­ture war. The orga­nized attacks have also been com­ing from abroad—specifically, from Sau­di Ara­bia and the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates.

    Trump and the GOP are late the Ilhan Omar hate par­ty. But it’s not just a hate fest. It’s also a love fest for Trump:

    ...
    The midterm elec­tions have ampli­fied an exist­ing sus­pi­cion in Mid­dle East­ern media of Mus­lim polit­i­cal activism in the Unit­ed States. Aca­d­e­mics, media out­lets, and com­men­ta­tors close to Per­sian Gulf gov­ern­ments have repeat­ed­ly accused Omar, Rashi­da Tlaib (anoth­er new­ly elect­ed Mus­lim con­gress­woman), and Abdul El-Sayed (who made a failed bid to become gov­er­nor of Michi­gan) of being secret mem­bers of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood who are hos­tile to the gov­ern­ments of Sau­di Ara­bia and the UAE. On Sun­day, Sau­di-owned Al Ara­biya pub­lished a fea­ture insin­u­at­ing that Omar and Tlaib were part of an alliance between the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty and Islamist groups to con­trol Con­gress. The arti­cle accused the two of being “anti-Trump and his polit­i­cal team and options, espe­cial­ly his for­eign pol­i­cy start­ing from the sanc­tions on Iran to the iso­la­tion of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and all move­ments of polit­i­cal Islam.”

    In anoth­er exam­ple, a talk show on Sau­di-owned sta­tion MBC dis­cussed the Mus­lim con­gress­women and more broad­ly the impli­ca­tions of Democ­rats tak­ing the House. Promi­nent Arab anchor Amr Adib debat­ed the mat­ter with Egypt­ian polit­i­cal sci­en­tist Moataz Fat­tah, who sug­gest­ed that Trump’s suc­cess­ful com­bat­ing of Islamists would be under­mined by the Democ­rats’ vic­to­ry. The attacks have become so ubiq­ui­tous in the Per­sian Gulf that the trend itself is the sub­ject of debate, both online and on tele­vi­sion.
    ...

    Attacks that focus on the charge the Omar is secret­ly a mem­ber of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and that the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood is in an alliance with the Democ­rats. Attacks that appear to be dri­ven, in part, by a fear that elect­ed Mus­lims in the West might encour­age their own pop­u­la­tions to push for democ­ra­cy.:

    ...
    Occa­sion­al­ly these attacks have been made by offi­cials of those gov­ern­ments, in appar­ent anx­i­ety that their coun­tries’ expen­sive pub­lic rela­tions and lob­by­ing efforts might be under­mined. Just hours after Omar won her elec­tion, for exam­ple, a staffer at the Sau­di Embassy in the Unit­ed States accused her of fol­low­ing the ide­ol­o­gy of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, which he said has per­me­at­ed the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. “She will be hos­tile to the Gulf and a sup­port­er of the polit­i­cal Islam rep­re­sent­ed in the Broth­er­hood in the Mid­dle East,” tweet­ed Faisal al-Sham­meri, a cul­tur­al advi­sor at the Sau­di Ara­bi­an Cul­tur­al Mis­sion to the Unit­ed States, which is part of the embassy, and a writer for Al Ara­biya.

    El-Sayed, an Amer­i­can born to Egypt­ian immi­grants, noticed the attacks from the region dur­ing his cam­paign. Media in the Mid­dle East ampli­fied accu­sa­tions by a Repub­li­can can­di­date for gov­er­nor, Patrick Col­beck, that El-Sayed had links to the Broth­er­hood. Egypt­ian news­pa­per Youm7, for instance, report­ed that El-Sayed like­ly lost the elec­tion to his link to the “rad­i­cal” Nation of Islam, and his rela­tion­ship with Mus­lim-Amer­i­can activist Lin­da Sar­sour, “known for her rad­i­cal views.”

    ...

    The rise of politi­cians like El-Sayed, Omar, and Tlaib also under­mines a core argu­ment advanced by dic­ta­tors in the Mid­dle East: that their peo­ple are not ready for democ­ra­cy. “Peo­ple would not have access to pow­er in their coun­tries but they would if they leave, this destroys the argu­ment by Sisi or bin Salman,” El-Sayed said, refer­ring to Egypt­ian Pres­i­dent Abdel Fat­tah al-Sisi and Sau­di Ara­bi­an Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “What’s iron­ic is there is no way I would aspire to be in lead­er­ship in Egypt, the place of my fathers.”

    Amer­i­can allies in the region also fear that the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party’s new Arab lead­ers will advo­cate for polit­i­cal change in their coun­tries. Hav­ing spent mil­lions of dol­lars for pub­lic rela­tions cam­paigns in West­ern cap­i­tals, the Per­sian Gulf coun­tries feel threat­ened by any pol­i­cy­mak­ers with an inde­pen­dent inter­est in and knowl­edge of the region. They have thus framed these offi­cials’ prin­ci­pled objec­tions to region­al vio­la­tions of human rights and demo­c­ra­t­ic norms as mat­ters of per­son­al bias. One com­men­ta­tor, who is known to echo gov­ern­ment talk­ing points and is fre­quent­ly retweet­ed by gov­ern­ment offi­cials, recent­ly spread the rumor that Omar is a descen­dent of a “Houthi Yemeni” to under­mine her attacks on the Sau­di-led war on Yemen.

    The most com­mon attack online by the Sau­di-led bloc on the Mus­lim-Amer­i­can Democ­rats has been to label them as mem­bers of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, or more gen­er­al­ly as ikhwan­ji, an extrem­ist catch-all term. These attacks start­ed long before this year’s elec­tions. In 2014, the UAE even announced a ter­ror list that includ­ed the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR) for its alleged links to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood.

    The attacks attempt­ing to tie Omar and Tlaib to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood start­ed in earnest after CAIR pub­licly wel­comed their elec­tion to Con­gress. One UAE-based aca­d­e­m­ic, Najat al-Saeed, crit­i­cized Ara­bic media for cel­e­brat­ing the two Mus­lim women’s vic­to­ries at the midterms, and point­ed to CAIR’s sup­port for them as evi­dence of their ties to the Broth­er­hood.
    ...

    Now, it’s impor­tant to rec­og­nize that we should­n’t be sur­prised if Mus­lim politi­cians are asso­ci­at­ed with CAIR and get endorsed by CAIR since it’s the best financed and most promi­nent Amer­i­can Mus­lim advo­ca­cy group. But it’s also impor­tant to rec­og­nize that many of the crit­i­cisms of CAIR, like charges from sec­u­lar Mus­lims that CAIR is influ­enced by strict Sau­di-based reli­gious inter­pre­ta­tions and Mus­lim Broth­er­hood orga­ni­za­tions, are indeed valid but that con­ser­v­a­tive Islam­ic influ­ence is invari­ably tied to the fact that CAIR has received much of its fund­ing from large Sau­di dona­tions, like $500,000 from Sau­di Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and the exten­sive his­tor­i­cal ties between the Sau­di gov­ern­ment and the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. In oth­er words, when the Sau­di gov­ern­ment attacks CAIR for being influ­enced by the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, they’re essen­tial­ly attack­ing their own hand­i­work. It’s a com­pli­cat­ed his­to­ry.

    And then there’s the attacks on Omar’s race:

    ...

    The attacks on Omar have also indulged in racism. While Tlaib and Omar have both been the tar­gets of smears, it’s been eas­i­er for Gulf Arabs to sin­gle out Omar for insults because of her African her­itage. Neg­a­tive stereo­types about Africans— who serve as poor­ly treat­ed migrant work­ers in the Gulf’s oil econ­o­my— are wide­spread through­out the region.

    This was evi­dent in the social media cam­paign launched last month against Omar by Ahmad al-Far­raj, a Sau­di writer and researcher with UAE-based Trends Research and Advisory—a firm found­ed by a for­mer Dubai police offi­cial and con­sul­tant. He attacked Omar for crit­i­ciz­ing Trump’s mut­ed response to the CIA assess­ment that Sau­di Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman like­ly direct­ed the mur­der of for­mer U.S.-based Sau­di jour­nal­ist Jamal Khashog­gi at the Sau­di Ara­bi­an con­sulate in Istan­bul. “These mis­er­able beings com­ing from the under­de­vel­oped worlds are more hate­ful to their race and to you than any ene­my,” Al Far­raj tweet­ed to his more than 60,000 fol­low­ers. A steady stream of racist attacks fol­lowed in response. One per­son tweet­ed a pic­ture of Omar accom­pa­nied by the cap­tion “when­ev­er you buy a slave, buy a stick along with the slave. The slave is mis­er­able filth.”

    Oth­er than the flur­ry of racist com­ments, Omar was trolled based on two false accu­sa­tions: that she was a mem­ber of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and that she had mar­ried her broth­er. Hash­tags also began trend­ing with dozens of anony­mous accounts tweet­ing slight­ly dif­fer­ent vari­a­tions of the same lan­guage, and echo­ing known gov­ern­ment-affil­i­at­ed accounts. The pat­tern is typ­i­cal of Twit­ter troll armies that seem to be used reg­u­lar­ly by Mohammed bin Salman to silence the kingdom’s crit­ics.
    ...

    So giv­en that Trump and the GOP and plan­ning on mak­ing the Saudi/UAE attacks link­ing Ilhan Omar and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood a cen­ter­piece of their 2020 cam­paign strat­e­gy, and giv­en the very his­tor­i­cal and ide­o­log­i­cal ties between the Repub­li­can Par­ty to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, it’s worth keep­ing in mind that this rep­re­sents a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for Amer­i­cans to actu­al­ly explore this com­pli­cat­ed his­to­ry. There’s a lot of valu­able lessons under that rock.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 19, 2019, 2:25 pm

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