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USA, MB and List of Terrorist Organizations

Sunday 18-06-2017 - 11:00 PM
Khalid Fahmy
Photo credit: Google
Photo credit: Google
Cairo - Egyptian government has been expecting a long-awaited decision from the new administration of US President Donald Trump to designate the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) group as a foreign terrorist organization. This issue has provoked considerable controversy whether in local or international political arenas. Although Egyptian diplomats have attempted to give a push to this designation, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently warned against the ramifications and complications arisen for the United States and its international policies in case such a decision is taken.
Tillerson explained that MB elements have now become parts of governments in some countries, referring to MB members who hold positions of power in Turkey and Kuwait.

Tillerson warns against ramifications, complications of designation for US

Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson
“Those elements have become so by renouncing violence and terrorism,” Tillerson said, warning of deterioration of relations with these countries if the USA designated MB group as a terrorist organization. He added that the USA has already designated violence and terrorism-linked organizations as terrorist ones.
Tillerson’s statements are the last word in this issue pertaining to relations between the USA and MB group. This issue was already discussed before the inauguration of Trump, when Republican Senator Ted Cruz, along with representatives Michael McCaul and Mario Diaz-Balart,  reintroduced a bill to the Senate to protect Americans from the threat of radical Islamic terror with the aim of holding MB group accountable for instigating and spreading “violent Islamic ideology” to destroy the Western countries.

Supporters of designation: MB has not abandoned hatred speeches against USA

Supporters of the bill argued that MB group has not abandoned speeches of hatred and fomentation against the United States, in particular, and Western countries, in general. They also added that jihadist groups disbanded MB group, citing the group’s involvement in terrorist acts in some countries, including Egypt.

Opponents of designation: MB aims only to rise to power

Photo credit: Google
Photo credit: Google
Opponents of the bill thought that MB group has not historically resorted to violence and terrorism permanently, but it is mainly a political, social and peaceful group, whose aim is to take part in the political life and come to power. They warned that if MB group is blacklisted by the United States, this decision can affect Washington’s relations with the countries of the Arab and Islamic world.

CIA memo: designation MB group to offend many Muslims

Republican Senator
Republican Senator Ted Cruz
In January, Last month, an internal CIA memo argued that designating MB group would offend many Muslims who are members of the organization, receive social services from its affiliates or respect the group as a part of their community. “Moreover, a US designation would probably weaken MB leaders’ arguments against violence and provide ISIS and al-Qa’ida additional grist for propaganda to win followers and support, particularly for attacks against US interests,” the memo, which leaked to press, stated.  
That argument was echoed by Jillian Schwedler, a professor at Hunter College, who wrote that, “Designating the Brotherhood could hinder crucial U.S. partnerships as the designation would likely interfere with the ability of the U.S. government to work effectively with governments in which the Brotherhood plays a role. This could include Turkey's President Receb T. Erdogan’s government in Turkey and parliaments in Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, and Yemen, where the Brotherhood-affiliated party is backing the internationally-recognized government alongside the United States and Saudi Arabia against the Houthi rebels.”

Designation to create tense situations in the region

Photo credit: Google
Photo credit: Google
Some international human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, warned Trump’s administration of taking this step to designate MB group as a terrorist organization. They argued that the designation will firstly create tense situations between MB supporters in the region, who are allies of Washington, such as Jordan, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, Qatar and some gulf countries, where MB members have legitimate political presence. 
Secondly, the designation will also encourage anti-MB countries to tighten oppression and crackdown on MB members and their sympathizers (in Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, among others). Moreover, sympathizers and supporters of MB group will find difficulty to practice their civil and political rights in the United States and Western countries, which may adopt the same procedures against the group. Therefore, this designation will breach human rights and constitute religious discrimination.

Experts: Trump’s failed designating could backfire

Expert Eric Trager
Expert Eric Trager
However, in his book, “Arab Fall”, Eric Trager, an expert at Washington Institute, argues that the case for giving MB group the terrorist designation is not clear-cut. He drew the following conclusion that might serve as a warning for the Trump administration’s intended measures against the group.
“If the Trump administration tries and fails to designate the Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization, it could backfire: Brotherhood organizations would likely hail this as a victory and use a failed designation as evidence to claim—falsely—that they are nonviolent. And given the polarized political climate in Washington, a failed Brotherhood designation might ultimately afford the Brotherhood a more generous hearing in certain political and policy circles.”
Accordingly, Washington thoroughly considers this decision in terms of pros and cons. It is likely that the United States will act slowly and will not blacklist all MB affiliates and wings. Thus, the United States may respond to the requests of Arab countries to designate MB group as a terrorist organization in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and even Libya, but Washington may not designate the remaining MB affiliates and wings in other countries.

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